Written by Sara Keller
From the moment you step into the soaring atrium, there’s something special and awe-inspiring about the Indianapolis Central Library. The giant windows throughout the building capture gorgeous views of downtown Indy and the rows upon rows of bookshelves seem to go on forever. Even if you have a beloved local branch you visit often with your family, a trip to Central Library might be in order. It’s simply mind-boggling to see the collective vastness of the human mind and imagination represented in book form.
The Learning Curve at the Indianapolis Central Library
For families with children, a favorite feature of the Central Library is The Learning Curve. Nearly an entire floor is dedicated to children’s literature. This special space is really a win-win for everyone at the library. Parents can remind their children to use indoor voices, but since the Learning Curve is removed from adult study and reading areas, you won’t have to worry if your little library patrons get a bit noisy!
The Learning Curve has inviting reading spaces and engaging activities scattered throughout. There are cozy reading pods that allow children to watch a story being read aloud. Lounge chairs beckon families to sit down for a story. Kids can get creative in the Media Workshop with a green screen and stage for acting out scenes.
Visiting with a baby? There’s a special area just for the tiniest bibliophiles. The baby area has toys, an activity wall, a soundboard, and a thorough collection of board books. Nearby are some pretend play stations and a number of computers with age-appropriate games for the preschool crowd.
We’ve barely even mentioned the books thus far! Explore an extensive collection — the largest you’ll find at any of the Indianapolis Public Library branches — of storybooks, easy readers, graphic novels, chapter books, and more. Flip through beloved titles and exciting new favorites on the shelves to find the perfect stories to take home. In a rush with your little ones? You can always grab a Bunny Bag full of age-appropriate picture books for your preschoolers and toddlers.
Homeschooling is on the rise since the pandemic and the Indianapolis Central Library has stepped up to provide curriculum and other resources to patrons who are taking on the challenge of providing personalized education for their children. Browse curriculum and textbooks covering a wide variety of subjects only in the Learning Curve. You can also place holds on items online or from your home branch and pick them up later from a branch near you.
As a part of youth and children’s resources, the teen area is also considered a part of the Learning Curve. Your teens may appreciate the location, which is slightly removed from the children’s storybooks and play areas. Send your middle and high school kids upstairs to level 3. They’ll find books and other collections just for them, along with cool study areas and computers available for use.
Children’s and Family Programming
The Indianapolis Central Library hosts a variety of family-friendly programs. Some are based on books and literacy, others explore arts, culture, or STEAM subjects. Check the library website for a complete calendar of upcoming events and activities.
Family Concerts at Indianapolis Central Library
The library provides plenty of books and resources for developing kids’ passion for reading. But the Indianapolis Public Library doesn’t let the learning stop there! Families looking to add some free, high-quality cultural enrichment to their weekends should check out the monthly Family Concerts hosted at the Indianapolis Central Library. These performances are typically held on a Sunday afternoon at 3 pm. Artists and genres vary throughout the year — you’ll want to catch them all!
The Hot Jazz for Cool Kids series features a variety of local jazz performers and bands ready to introduce children to what may be a new-to-them musical style in a kid-friendly format. You’ll also want to keep an eye out for the Teddy Bear Concert series from the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. Children are invited to explore a wide variety of instruments, learn their roles in an orchestra, and listen to a story told through music.
Summer Reading Program
Make the Indianapolis Public Library Summer Reading Program a family tradition! Whether your child devours books without prompting or needs a little external motivation, the prizes and programs that accompany this opportunity make summertime reading more fun.
Central Library is a great place to cash in your reading hours for prizes. Plan your trip around a special event like a Silly Safaris performance or a themed craft time, choose your rewards, and stick around for playtime in the Learning Curve.
Storytimes in the Learning Curve
Friday mornings are for Tales ‘n’ Play Storytime at the Indianapolis Central Library. Babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and their grown-ups are invited to join library staff members or volunteers for read-aloud stories and music. Following the program, kids can stay for open playtime with peers. At the time of publishing, these programs are held each week from 11 am-to 12 pm, but we always recommend verifying current schedules before you go.
Parking at the Indianapolis Central Library
Street parking is available around the Indianapolis Central Library, but the easiest parking option is in the garage. Access the parking garage from Pennsylvania Street. If you’re staying 30 minutes or less, parking is free. Up to an hour is $1, 1-2 hours is $2, and 2-4 hours is $3. Once you’ve parked, an elevator delivers you directly to the library atrium.
Libraries are such valuable resources in our communities, making educational opportunities accessible to all and giving kids the chance to exercise their imaginations as they explore new places, both real and imaginary, through stories. As a parent with a budget, there’s something freeing and joyful about taking my child someplace where I can respond to every request with “YES! Put it in the bag. Let’s take that one home today.” The free indoor play is the icing on the cake. If you haven’t visited the Indianapolis Central Library’s Learning Curve, don’t miss out on this fabulous Indianapolis landmark.
Here are more indoor play places in Indianapolis.
Looking for places for kids to play while parents work?
40 E. St. Clair Street