A terrific new addition to the list of Little Rock attractions geared toward children is the Central Arkansas Library System’s Children’s Library and Learning Center. Library patrons as young as 11 years old contributed input to the final concept for the institution. The 30,000-square-foot building, located at 4800 West 10th Street, includes a computer lab, a teaching kitchen, a large activity area, and individual and group study rooms. A theatre, a community room and a collection of more than 21,000 books, DVDs and CDs are also on site.
CALS’ goal was to have a “vibrant, happy place for families with children to come for hands-on learning and enrichment. Activities and programs are geared toward preschool, elementary, and middle school students and key subject areas focus on the amenities of the site.” The teaching kitchen can accommodate an entire class where they can learn about all facets of culinary arts, including nutrition, growing, cooking, and eating food.
A 165-seat theatre is where kids can take part in all aspects of the performing arts: designing and building sets, writing plays, acting and costume design. The building will also be used for movies, concerts and lectures.
Located on the grounds are a greenhouse and teaching garden where children will learn about growing healthy foods. Produce from both will be used in the teaching kitchen programs. Arkansas’s topography is reproduced on the grounds with native hardwoods from the highlands to vegetation of the wetlands. Signage along walking paths allow visitors to near the names of the trees and plants. An amphitheater will be the site of outdoor program or nature watching.
Fourteen computers in the technology lab are available for homework assignments and special projects. Laptops are available for checkout using free WiFi. Small children will be able to practice reading and computer skills on early childhood computers and iPads with literacy apps.
Hours are 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday and Saturday.