Discover Bethesda, Maryland...365 Days a Year!

Day 55: Bookworms in Bethesda

When my daughters were little, one of our favorite things to do was to go to the library!  Yes, I’m serious.  When you’re a young parent and broke, one must get creative about where you can take two kids for fun.  The library felt like shopping for free!  We would head straight to the kid’s section and they would enthusiastically rifle through the books on the short shelves like they were on an Easter egg hunt.  Often we would curl up on big bean bag chairs in the reading room and dive into some stories right then and there.  But the best part of the trip was when they would run over with their arms full of books and big smiles on their faces, ready to “check out!”  I think the maximum was 12 books and they would always max out!  With their books piled high, we would load into the car and enjoy a week’s worth of bedtime stories that we all anticipated each night.  To this day, I would say that both of my girls are bookworms – and I am very proud! 

Bethesda Library - 7400 Arlington Rd

Today, books are available on-line, on the iPad, your Kindle and all over the place.  I don’t know a soul who talks about going to the library every week anymore.  But boy was I surprised when I recently checked out the Bethesda library’s website – not to mention the library itself!  I imagined the library’s website to be cumbersome and somewhat limited to say the least.  I was wrong!  And little did I know about all the cool events and art displays at the Bethesda Library that are listed there.

If you are in a bookclub or want to be (I am a proud member of the Literary Winers of Bethesda), the Bethesda library has some amazing resources for you.  First of all, they have books for free!  Who knew?!  I seem to buy each and every book we read.  It never occurred to me to check one out!  Ha!  Plus, they offer a nice meeting room, although there is a small fee for use and process to go through to reseve it.  In the Reader’s Cafe on their website there is a plethora of cool stuff such as Reading Group Guides (very helpful) and interesting booklists with categories like Macho Men, Cozy Mysteries and Chic Lit.  They also have book newsletters, book recommendations and a section called “You Recommend.”  I found a great list of options there this evening labeled “Lost on the Stacks” that had some truly fascinating subjects.  If you’re looking to join a bookclub, they have them!  The selected book is posted on the site along with the dates for the book discussion.

Libraries have a special place in our society with rich and even controversial histories sometimes.  We are lucky to live in a country where its citizens can walk into a place and check out anything we are interested in reading for free just because we live here – and whether the subject matter is politically correct or not. 

Our Bethesda Library has a rich history I am sure – stories we will perhaps never know.  But their website described how it began and how it evolved to its location today.  Supported by bake sales, benefits and raffles, the first Bethesda Library was originally opened in 1931 located in the old Bethesda Bank Building on Wisconsin Ave.  After only 5 years, it was hit hard financially during the Great Depression and was closed.  It re-opened in 1940 in the basement of Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School and then later relocated to its current facility at 7400 Arlington Rd in 1976 – the 200 year anniversary of our country.  Renovated in 2001, the building is modernized and a great place for a visit.  Outfitted with WiFi, 22 computer workstations and even art exhibits to peak your interest, not to mention its amazing selection of books for free, the Bethesda Library is a wonderful place to visit alone or share with your kiddos.  Maybe they will develop a true love of books as a result – or you may reconnect with your own.  One little side note though, it’s not exactly completely free anymore (unless you walk).  During the weekdays, the parking is metered and you must have coins as they do not yet have Pay-by-Cell parking there.  So come on out to the library with your quarters and immerse yourself in literature!   See you there fellow Bethesda Bookworms.     ~Amy

  1. Janelle

    I loved your opening paragraph about your trips to the library with your girls. It brings back memories of the Greenbelt Library – another small town icon and the many trips we made there. As the times are changing so quickly with technology, I hope the library survives and continues to provide this kind of pleasure for future generations!

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