Best Libraries in Richmond for Families

When I was a kid, libraries were one of my favorite place to go. Other kids might have preferred the playground, but I loved nothing more than getting lost amongst the stacks that were filled with creativity, imagination and stories that could transport you to other worlds. Admittedly, I was a bit of a book nerd, but I loved every moment spent there.

However, libraries have come a long way since the days when I would sit in a corner reading Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective. Libraries these days offer a valuable public service that goes beyond just books. Ask any parent who has been cooped up with kids all day and they will tell you that the library can be a lifesaver. With free programs, movies, play areas and, of course, books, libraries provide a place to gather with friends, learn, and explore – for adults and children alike.

The Richmond area is fortunate to be home to some of the best libraries in the state. With public libraries throughout the city, as well as the surrounding counties, we have access to award-winning library systems that offer programs, education and entertainment for the whole family.

The Richmond area still offers many libraries that are small, quiet neighborhood retreats. However, many of today’s libraries are a combination of technology, public education and books that are geared towards meeting the needs of our ever advancing educational needs. The libraries on our list were chosen because of the extensive offerings they provide to every member of the family, in every walk of life. So, if you’re looking for ways to enrich your family’s education, exposure and interests, then we’ve got five libraries that you won’t want to miss.

Our “best of Richmond area libraries” were chosen based on:

  • Variety of programs offered
  • Children’s space
  • Amenities like technology, meetings rooms, etc.
  • Unique offerings (from architecture to interactive exhibits)

Libraries are a wealth of information, education and imagination – and best of all, they are completely free and open to the public. Take a look at these outstanding Richmond are libraries and be sure to take advantage of all that they offer.

North Courthouse Road Library

North-Courthouse-Road-Library
North Courthouse Road Library

Located in Chesterfield County and serving as part of the Chesterfield County Public Library system, the North Courthouse Road Library is another new library that was designed to provide exceptional resources to the surrounding community. Like all libraries, by definition, the North Courthouse Road branch offers books in abundance. However, they also provide resources to serve every age and interest. With special attention paid to the needs and interests of families, this innovative space offers beautiful reading rooms and play areas for kids that host story times, science and nature workshops, and many other programs devoted to arts, literature and music. For other age groups, the North Courthouse Road Library provides computers, free wifi, acoustic music series, teen programs, resources for small businesses and dedicated meeting spaces.

See a complete list of upcoming events here.

Why we love it: The North Chesterfield Library represents the latest and greatest in community resources, creatively combining a traditional library with smart technology. However, what sets this library apart for us is its attention to design as it combines the outdoor environment with the indoor environment. The site and building provide recycled rainwater systems, features that protect nearby wetlands and renewable-resource building materials. But the selling point? An outdoor reading veranda that allows for learning and exploring in the natural world and the literary world simultaneously.

Location and Hours:
325 Courthouse Road
Richmond, VA 23236
(804) 318-8499

Monday – Thursday, 10am – 9pm
Friday and Saturday, 10am – 5pm

 

Tuckahoe Library

Tuckahoe Library
Tuckahoe Library

Like all of the libraries on our list, the Tuckahoe Library offers amazing public services and access to technology, programs and educational resources. Plus, it’s simply huge. Featuring 53,000 square feet of books, computers, meeting rooms and more, Tuckahoe offers a drive-thru book return and pick-up window, a puzzle-themed children’s area, “Planet Teen,” quiet reading rooms, more than 100 public computers, and free wireless internet. Programs include arts and crafts, computer training, author readings and workshops, homework help and tutoring, drama workshops and many more opportunities for preschoolers, elementary age kids, tweens, teens, adults and seniors. And because it is part of the Henrico County Public Library system, it is backed by an incredible website devoted to kids’ resources, including games, homework help and book catalogs; as well as the HPCL Teen Scene website which provides resources, events and volunteer opportunities just for teens.

See a complete list of upcoming events here.

Why we love it: Because this library offers so many options for every age group, it can get a little crowded – and maybe even a little noisy. While that may be a detractor for some, we love the fact that it provides a community resource on such a broad level. Whether you’re looking to study, use computers and printing resources, attend a workshop or just get the kids out of the house, you’ll find a niche that has been designed exactly for your needs. And with large windows overlooking a fountain and garden, this library provides a beautiful, light-filled place to come with the whole family.

Location and Hours:
1901 Starling Drive
Henrico, VA 23229
(804) 501-1910

Monday – Thursday, 9am – 9pm
Friday and Saturday, 9am – 6pm

 

Main Branch – Richmond Public Library

Main Branch - Richmond Public Library
Main Branch – Richmond Public Library

This public library is located in the heart of downtown Richmond, providing access to educational resources, technology and interactive programs for all ages. As part of the cultural center of the city, this library is packed with programs and opportunities that are as diverse as the city they serve. Their current programs include preschool story times, STEM workshops, gardening education for kids, free concerts, ongoing art exhibits, writing workshops, computer classes and much, much more.

The building itself provides a stimulating environment for learning and discovering with stately architecture and large meeting and resource rooms. As for kids’ resources, the library offers devoted spaces just for kids, filled with bright colors, hands-on educational materials and plenty of books! Use one of the library’s 80 computers, rent movies, use meeting spaces, attend job seekers’ classes, find specific programs for families or teens, or just go and lose yourself in a good book. This library has it all.

See a complete list of upcoming events here.

Why we love it: One of our favorite things about the Main Branch of the Richmond Public Library is the outreach and services it provides to local communities that might not otherwise have access to the same resources. And because it’s right downtown, you can stop in for books while you’re exploring the city, make it a weekly go-to for programs and story times, or take advantage of unique offerings like “Nature at RPL,” a program that lets kids check-out backpacks filled with free parking/entrance pass to Virginia State Parks, a Pocket Naturalist guides, a magnifying lens, discovery activities and more. Whatever your needs or interests, the Main Branch is there to serve you.

Location and Hours:
101 East Franklin Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219
(804) 646-7223

Monday – Wednesday, 10am – 7pm
Thursday and Friday, 10am – 6pm
Saturday, 10am – 5pm

Varina Area Library

Varina Library
Facebook / T. Brackett

Another jewel in the Henrico County Public Library crown, the all-new Varina Library is a next-level resource for the entire Greater Richmond area. Although the library has been open for less than a year, it has already become a favorite for area residents. With more than 40,000 square feet of space over two stories, the library provides a wealth of resources – from reading, to viewing, to interactive learning. The facility offers a digital media lab, dozens of computers and other devices, a demonstration kitchen, group collaboration areas, quiet reading and study spaces, meeting rooms with projectors and other advanced presentation resources, automated services and much more. And that’s just the inside. Head outside, or take a peek out of the large sunlit windows, to see views of the nearby wetlands and woods or take a walk along the outdoor trail that connects to the Virginia Capital Trail. Inside and out, this beautiful community gathering place is ideal for families of every age, interest and need. Like all of our Henrico County Public Library favorites, you’ll love the online resources available, including the Kids’ Page and HPCL Teen Scene.

See a complete list of upcoming events here.

Why we love it: Aside from the obvious, which includes all of the many resources and programs offered, we love the idea behind this library. Like all libraries, Varina is intended to nurture the love of reading and learning. However, extra care was put into the award-winning design of this library, both inside and out, so that it could serve as a community resource even for those who don’t live near the city of Richmond itself. With extended hours and expanded services, this library brings the latest and greatest in technology, as well as good old fashioned books, to the Greater Richmond area.

Location and Hours:
1875 New Market Road
Henrico, VA 23231
(804) 501-1980

Monday – Thursday, 9am – 9pm
Friday and Saturday, 9am – 6pm

 

Libbie Mill Library

Libbie Mill Library
Libbie Mill Library

It’s easy to see why the Libbie Mill Library tops our list. With nearly 40,000 square feet of space, this brand-new library is more than just a place to check out books – it’s a place to learn, play and engage with the entire family. As part of the award-winning Henrico County Public Library system, Libbie Mill Library is easily accessible from both the county and the city, which means that wherever you live, you can take advantage of incredible opportunities like story times, open labs for kids, tween and teen reading and educational programs, gardening workshops, “Small Concerts for Small Friends” series, writing workshops, Minecraft and LEGO tournaments, programs for adults and seniors, and so, so much more.

With everything automated and the latest and greatest in computer technology, it may feel like this library is too much of a departure from old-fashioned libraries where you could go for quiet reading and studying. And yes, while there is a lot more activity and “noise” than in the libraries of your childhood, Libbie Mill preserves the peaceful nature of a library with an upstairs “sanctuary” room that is reserved especially for reading actual books – no e-books, phones or laptops allowed. Likewise, the space includes six study rooms, dedicated conference meeting rooms and several “collaboration spaces” that allow those looking for a little isolation to find it.

See a complete list of upcoming events here.

Why we love it: What really sets this library apart for us is not just the state-of-the-art, award-winning architecture and design, but the incredible opportunities for kids. In addition to their online resources for kids (as part of the Henrico Public Library system), Libbie Mill Library offers a Children’s Reading Garden, huge children’s reading and resource areas, a two-acre lake on the grounds, a digital media lab (complete with 3-D printing, video and audio recording and more) and countless programs, workshops and kid-centric exhibits and displays. Combining art, science, technology and literature, the Libbie Mill Library is a treasure for the entire Richmond area.

Location and Hours:
2100 Libbie Lake East Street
Richmond, VA 23230
(804) 501-1940

Monday – Thursday, 9am – 9pm
Friday and Saturday, 9am – 6pm

 

As you may have noticed, these libraries include state-of-the-art advancements in design and technology, as well as large spaces for friends, families and community groups to gather. These features are what make our “best of” libraries the perfect place for Richmond families to learn and interact with one another, as well as the community at large. But, we know that there’s not much that can beat a traditional library setting where the air smells like books and everyone still speaks in a whisper. If you have a favorite neighborhood or community library, we would love to hear about. Be sure to let us know in the comments below!