When I first entered the Fort Worth Library Central branch with my weeks-old daughter, I reacted similarly to Belle when shown the Beast’s expansive library, or Maria in the Swiss Alps. (Those spins are hard to do with a jogging stroller!)
I wasted years of living in Fort Worth before visiting any of the library’s 16 branches (view locations and hours) or six partner libraries nearby. Now, a visit to the Southwest Regional branch occurs weekly — if not more frequently — for our household.
If you’re new to the Fort Worth Library, like I was, below are five general categories of offerings that await you. Go ahead and explore; you might just fall in love!
Rent to your heart’s content. The Fort Worth Library is foremost a lending resource. Walk into any branch (or peruse the online catalog) and find a wealth of printed books, audiobooks, periodicals, graphic novels, movies, documentaries, TV shows, and music CDs. Place a hold online for any item you want to check out, or request an available copy be transferred to your local branch. Or, view the many titles offered electronically via the digital library, including eBooks, digital audiobooks, videos, and music.
In addition to books and other media, special “traveling” stuffed animals — branded with the library’s logo — are available for checkout. Snap pictures of your kiddos with one of the plushy pals on your next outing around town or family vacation abroad, and post to social media to promote the Fort Worth Library.
Tech access. The library puts a range of technology at your fingertips. All branches offer desktop computers for work or play. Look for special literacy terminals in the children’s section, or take the web with you as you stroll the aisles, with complimentary on-location Wi-Fi.
Specialized equipment comprises the Panther Lab makerspace at the Northwest branch. Here, adults and tech-savvy youth alike get creative with 3D scanning and printing, vinyl cutting, and electronics kits. Also find 27″ iMacs loaded with Adobe CC Suite, a Sony camera and green screen, and a virtual reality simulation headset. Related classes range from java programming to building burglar alarms.
Stay connected even when you’re not at the library with the FWL Mobile app. Search the catalog, reserve items, download eBooks and audiobooks, and more from your mobile device. Why buy that book off the shelf at a pricey retailer? Just scan the bar code with your phone, and the app tells you if the Fort Worth Library carries it.
Programs and classes. Beyond checking out or plugging in, the library offers a variety of enriching experiences for you and your kids. Daily story times occur at certain branches — some in Spanish — and accompany a themed craft, music, or other activity. The quarterly Worth Reading (#wr365) program awards incentives like free museum admission vouchers and monthly prize drawings for completed activity cards.
Various camps, classes, workshops, and interactive programs target kids of all ages, from Baby Sign and Speak to Creative Writing for Teens. Some are free while others cost; some are first-come-first-served while others require advance registration; some are offered solely in Spanish while others are bilingual. Stop into any branch for the most recent issue of Worth Reading, the Fort Worth Library’s quarterly publication, for detailed program listing.
Fun for the family.
Education Entertainment doesn’t stop after the working parent’s 9-to-5 job. Include your spouse in the fun during the 3rd Thursday Jazz Series. The free monthly concert starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Central (downtown) location during summer. Or bring the crew to Family Movie Fun, a free monthly movie showing Saturday afternoons at the Central branch.
There’s also Library Feud, a game show-style trivia challenge with prizes. (Registration is required, so visit the website for details.) And any time is art appreciation time for your family at the Fort Worth Library. Many branches feature rotating selections of local art, including paintings, photos, sculptures, and other historical and topical collections.
Don’t forget the grownups! If you can sneak out of the house in the evening or leave the kids with their grandparents for a few hours, you might be surprised how much personal enrichment can be found at the library, free of charge. Kid-free AND cost-free? Count me in!
Try one of the monthly adult book discussion groups. Or treat yourself to Movies that Matter, a monthly screening of human/civil rights focused films, followed by discussion. And for history hobbyists, the library also offers genealogy resources, digital archives, and a massive collection of local history documents (including this link to an online database of fascinating historic photographs).
Many classes and programs are open to or exclusively geared toward adults. One such program, Early Childhood Matters, provides a free parent/caregiver resource for early childhood development of social, emotional, and pre-literacy skills. There are also free computer literacy classes for adults and senior citizens, as well as GED preparation and citizenship courses. Other help, available at various times and locations, is listed below (verify before you visit).
- Assistance from Tarrant Area Food Bank staff with registration for Children’s medicaid, CHIP and SNAP, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.
- Seasonal assistance from AARP volunteers with income tax return preparation.
- Passport (form and fee) acceptance.
- New TollTag user account creation.
What do you love about the Fort Worth Library? Tell us in the comments below!