Montgomery County Public Libraries can boast a library dedicated just to children, three secondhand bookstores, and a number of programs and facilities that boost early literacy.
The Noyes Children’s Library (affectionately known as the No Yes Library) is the jewel in the crown of the Montgomery County Library System at least for parents of young children. It is the only library in Montgomery County that solely serves children and one of the very few children’s libraries in the entire country to do so. Established in 1893, it is also the oldest public library in the Washington area. The cottage-style building in the midst of Kensington’s Victorian historic district has an owl in the middle of its roof. The one-room building is unintimidating and welcoming to children. The library serves children up to age eight with books, compact discs and DVDs. There is a large selection of stuffed animals, a train table, a barn, and a coloring table. Nursing mothers will appreciate the rocking chair. A display case exhibits patron collections such as lunch boxes, dinosaurs, or antique toys.
Backpacks chock full of books, music, and toys (called grandparents kits) can be borrowed for a three week period by grandparents and then renewed. Themes include cars and trucks, dinosaurs, Madeline, and early literacy. Story times are held the third Wednesday of every month at 9:30 and 10:15 a.m. Reservations are required; call 240.773.9570. There’s a changing table in the restroom but diapers need to be taken outside. No strollers are allowed in the building; they can be parked outside. This library is being made handicapped accessible. The library is open three days a week Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
The Noyes Library Foundation is raising funds to keep the library open in 2011. Future events include a “Make Some Noyes” Family Dance Party on January 22, 2011. Storybook characters will mingle with guests, a DJ will play music, and there will be games, balloons and prizes. The dance will take place from 3 to 5 p.m. at Kensington Town Hall, 3710 Mitchell Street. For more information, about how you can support this wonderful resource go online.
Damascus, Long Branch, Germantown, Quince Orchard, Aspen Hill, and Wheaton libraries have early literacy stations (computers installed with over twenty suitable software programs for young children). Gaithersburg and Olney will have the stations again when they reopen after their renovations. Olney will close by the end of this year for a projected 18 months.
Germantown and Quince Orchard have Discovery Rooms, equipped with toys and materials to foster learning through play. We visited the one at Quince Orchard, interrupting a dad playing with his toddler. The rooms are recommended for newborns to age 8 but we thought the rooms were only appropriate for up to age five. Quince Orchard had an alphabet carpet, a number of tables, books, cds, puzzles, musical instruments, stuffed animals, a market stand, and a dollhouse. Germantown has two Discovery Centers. The procedures at both libraries are the same. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Only water and baby bottles are allowed. The room can be reserved once a week for an hour per group or family by calling 240.777.0200 (Quince Orchard)/240.777.0110 (Germantown) or inquiring in person at the Information Desk. Reservations can be made up to a month in advance. To check-in, you have to leave your library card at the Information Desk. Germantown also has a room for children with group study projects. The room can be reserved on a first come first served basis for up to two hours for two to twelve kids.
Quince Orchard is the only library in the system that keeps up the tradition of the penny theatre, a mini stage with cardboard sets and figures. These shows are held the third Thursday of every month at 10:15, 11:15, and 1:15. Call 240.777.0200 for reservations. Quince Orchard also caters to older children with a book club for kids in grades 4 to 6 the first Wednesday of each month.
Not only do Montgomery County Public Libraries have every kind of early literacy program imaginable – baby, twos, toddler, Saturday family, but Little Falls has Spanish/English story times every Monday at 10:30 a.m. as well.
Wheaton is the only library with a separate secondhand bookstore. Shop there for great deals on gently used children’s books. It is located at 11701 Georgia Avenue, 240.777.0688. The other two Friends of Montgomery County Library Bookstores are located in malls – Quince Orchard Plaza (301.355.7211) and Randolph Hills Shopping Center (301.984.3300). The one at Quince Orchard Plaza is tricky to find. It is behind the Chevy’s Restaurant.