On Monday I completed one of my resolutions for 2015. On May 31st of this year, I hatched a brilliant plan to visit all of the “SAPL” libraries here in San Antonio, TX. Yep. All 27 of them. I finally finished my quest. So I am here to report. I’m not going to get into the nitty gritty of each library or we will be here all day. I do want to give a brief overview with a few lists that I think may be helpful.
I’ll start off with a general list of all the libraries (so far) in alphabetical order. I know there are at least 2 new libraries in the process of being built.
2. Brook Hollow
6. Collins Garden
9. Forest Hills
15. Las Palmas
20. Pan American
22. Molly Pruitt
23. San Pedro
25. Thousand Oaks
26. Tobin at Oakwell
Why do this? Well, the obvious answers are that I love to read and I love libraries. I also recently became a SAHM and want to expose my 4 year old son to being around books and the library in general. Hello, Mr. Dewey 😉 I have taken my son to 19 of the 27 SAPL libraries which brings me to my next list:
Libraries with or near Playgrounds
8. San Pedro
As much as I love a good library run, the idea of going with my son can cause a reasonable amount of anxiety because libraries are quiet and children are not! Therefore, unless I am going in and out for a quick holds pick up at my home library (Westfall) I usually need a plan.
I don’t know if it is intentional or not but I love how most of the playgrounds at these libraries are neatly tucked behind the library, almost hidden. Why? At first sight of said playground my kid bolts full speed ahead oblivious to any obstacle to get him there. Having them out of sight at least gives me some time to take him with me to browse before heading out to where he can play and I can read.
Carver was the only location with a playground that was smack in the front of the entrance so it was quite a fight to get inside since my (autistic) son has difficulty with transitioning.
It’s hard to say which playground is the best. I really like that Maverick is across from the Nani Falcone park which has a playground, a skate park, baseball field and a walking trail all together.
The playground near Semmes is across from the parking lot making transitions quite easy.
I loved the playground at the Mission library. It is so well hidden that the playground is almost as quiet at the library itself. It was almost like an island apart from the library. The only sound I heard was the occasional ring of a nearby church bell.
I should note that San Pedro used to be near a playground. The only thing left of it when we visited was the swing set. The entire park is under construction at the moment.
My Top 5
These were really super duper hard to choose. There are so many libraries that I like for different reasons. This list is not by rank but just my top 5 overall.
Landa gives you that feeling of going to your grandmothers house but wait… there are books everywhere! The playground and outdoor areas are beautiful for photography as well. I kind of felt like Lucy running up the stairs to find the wardrobe when exploring here for the first time. I actually considered eloping here in 2013.
Mission was also wonderful. The landscaping outside makes it seem like you are in a wide open plain. This was one of the more peaceful locations I went to complete with additional exhibits inside.
Encino has a great layout and the space outside the library would be perfect for outdoor studying. There is a gorgeous partition with book quotes (pictured above) and they have an area set up outside for projector movies and other outdoor events. Customer service here was warm and cheery.
Central… oh Central. They don’t call it the “Enchilada” library for nothing. Walking into the Central Branch is like being swallowed by a library. Although it can be quite overwhelming the first time, it’s a good kind of overwhelming. Like when Belle visits the library in the castle for the first time. Magical. It’s nice and quiet for studying or even just for aesthetic purposes. Visiting at night does have a creepy “Night at the Museum” feel to it though.
Parman… that fishbowl though! There is a giant fishbowl at check out that is amazing. I regret not asking for the fish’s name. This is also a very peaceful library and surprisingly the only one I saw that was selling it’s own branch’s T-shirts. Come on SAPL make shirts for the people! The outside landscape has breathtaking amphitheater seating.
Other libraries that I also love but didn’t put on the list would be Great Northwest for nostalgia as this was the library I visited most of my childhood. The renovation has done the Children’s section well and I love the creative play area.
I love that Maverick participated in “Blind Date with a Book”. It’s like Christmas at the library, complete with butterflies and sweaty palms. When I was working, Las Palmas was my go to location for after work reads. And while modest, my home library, Westfall is convenient for picking up library holds and is right in the middle of most places of business that I frequent.
Something that I was surprised by was the fact that there was not one single library that has individual study rooms. When I lived in the DFW area, most of the libraries had the individual rooms. Granted there are “Quiet Rooms” in most of the branches I visited, but sometimes one needs total and complete solitude.
This is kind of minor but I noticed that at a few branches if it was your first time visiting, the metal detector beeps loudly when you first walk in. Scared the bejesus out of me and I didn’t even get a prize.
I was kind of confused about the Molly Pruitt library. It’s in a high school, so I get why they need to check ID. What I don’t get is that if it is an SAPL library then why can’t I return their books to any SAPL branch? The location was nice, especially the children’s area, but I found it annoying to have to come back to the same branch every time I checked something out.
This little project of mine was a lot of fun. Not only was I able to get a little taste of all the libraries in town, I was also able to see different parts of San Antonio that I might never travel to. For my little one, this also added a sense of adventure to our routine and gave us something to look forward to. The longest it took for me to drive to any one location was no longer than 25-30 minutes.
I definitely recommend taking the time to visit all your SAPL locations and to get involved in the services that your branch offers. The “Little Read Wagon” program came to my son’s school and did activities with the kids, shared with parents some keys to instilling a love for reading, and we even walked away with 2 free books! Literacy is one of the greatest gifts that we can receive, so nurture it, and pass it on to someone else!