More and more, libraries are branching out to bring you more than just literature. The art gallery at the Sewell Mill Library and Cultural Center is modern and fresh. PHOTO CREDIT: Fleming Smith
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Local libraries offer hidden gems in your neighborhood

Nowadays, there are few places you can enjoy for free, especially if you’re taking something home with you. Your local library is one of those rare places, where any community member can go pick out a new book, access the internet and attend interesting events, all for free.

Many of us have fond memories of going to the library as a child and finding new adventures, and the library’s a great place for kids to learn curiosity and boost their vocabulary. However, there’s plenty going on at the library for readers or non-readers of all ages. Here are some Atlanta-area libraries with events coming up to check out.

The organized, modern feel of the Sewell Mill Library and Cultural Center means everything is easy to find and accessible. CONTRIBUTED BY: Sewell Mill Library and Cultural Center
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Sewell Mill Library and Cultural Center

Opened earlier this year to replace the East Marietta Library, this Cobb County facility has been billed as a “21st century library” by the system. Beyond housing a library, the center includes an art gallery, a park, a café, an auditorium and rooms for teenagers and children.

Library members can take art classes and use its Creative Studio, which offers professional instruments and software to edit and produce music. Anyone can visit the library for free events like their Classic Movie Thursdays and other movie nights.

For those who want to get their kids to love reading from an early age, the library also offers free events for children, such as Pop-in Preschool Storytime, Bookworm Baby Storytime and Toddler Time. There’s a wonderful children’s section, including a few computers geared for young children, as well as a section devoted to teen visitors.

For readers of all ages, recommended books at the beginning of each new row are a nice touch, in case you’re not sure what you’re looking for.

2051 Lower Roswell Road, Marietta. 770-509-2711,

At the Sewell Mill Library and Cultural Center, which opened in January, patrons are already showing lots of love for the new facility. PHOTO CREDIT: Fleming Smith
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Metropolitan Library

When you walk up to this library, the first thing you may notice is its unusual but beautiful design. This branch of the Atlanta-Fulton system houses its books in a modern building with plenty of windows to let in natural light, but the building stands behind a row of marble columns reminiscent of Ancient Greece.

This mix of modern and classical gives the library a unique atmosphere. The library has a large children’s section with the option of Launchpad tablets that can be checked out. For those wanting easy computer access, the library has plenty available.

Like many libraries, the Metropolitan Library offers free workshops for those classes you never had a chance to take. A coding workshop for adults is planned on Dec. 7 and a financial wellness workshop on Dec. 5. If you need something for the kids, the library will be hosting Jingle Jam Holiday Stories on Wednesdays in December.

1332 Metropolitan Parkway, Atlanta. 404-613-5722,

At the Metropolitan Library, you can find great resources for children, including places for them to have fun while boosting their reading abilities. PHOTO CREDIT: Fleming Smith
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Buckhead Branch

Nestled in the heart of the busy The Shops Buckhead area, the Buckhead Branch of the Atlanta-Fulton system, also known as the Ida Williams branch, has won awards for its architectural design. The library plans to undergo extensive renovations in 2019.

While the library may look out of place next to its neighbor shops Jimmy Choo and Dior, it’s a great place to escape from the hustle and bustle of the area. At the back of the library, you’ll find a window with a great view of the Atlanta Fish Market.

For the kids, the library offers a Preschool Storytime on Tuesdays and Thursdays, along with Lego Play Wednesdays. You can also join them for their “Buckhead at the Movies” series every other Friday, with “Deck the Halls” coming up on Dec. 6.

269 Buckhead Ave. NE, Atlanta. 404-814-3500,

While many libraries are shooting for a “modern” feel, the Decatur Library’s stately building gives you that traditional library experience. CONTRIBUTED BY: The Decatur Library
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Decatur Library

Located in downtown Decatur, this DeKalb County library has a stately aura. It feels distinctly rooted in the community, particularly with an art gallery sometimes showing work by local artists and a local history collection including DeKalb County genealogy records.

The library offers a large selection, and it’s easy to wander around and feel like you’re in someone’s personal literary collection. There are plenty of places to sink into a couch with a book, get comfortable and look up to find hours have passed.

Visitors can also attend a wide variety of events. Like other libraries, the Decatur branch provides sessions like “Books and Babies” and a Preschool Storytime. If you’re starting to get worried about upcoming holiday gifts, the library will be hosting a handmade gift workshop on Dec. 8 for kids and teenagers and a jewelry making class with a local artist on Dec. 13.

Libraries can be crucial in offering resources for free that could be costly elsewhere. Check the website for information on their clinics on debt and tenants’ rights with local attorneys.

215 Sycamore St., Decatur. 404-370-3070,

Little Free Libraries

Atlanta has too many great libraries to cover every one, but there’s also a new kind of library. Little Free Libraries started in Wisconsin in 2009 and has now spread across the world; they’re small, house-shaped free book exchanges in neighborhoods or public areas where anyone is encouraged to take a book and leave a book.

Atlanta is home to more than 100 Little Free Libraries, which can be built and registered by anyone interested. Their locations, along with information on each, can be found on the non-profit’s website. No matter what kind of library you visit, remember it’s not just about the books — it’s about the community behind them.

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