Urbana Free Library: Where Champaign-Urbana history meets the needs of today’s families
Experience a great selection of books and a remarkable selection of diverse programming nestled away in a 100-year-old building, full of historical reference for Champaign-Urbana.
Traditional story time for children of all ages, culturally diverse programming, flourishing creative arts and more await at the Urbana Free Library, all while tucked away in a historical Champaign-Urbana building. We have put together a list of the top 10 reasons families will want to visit the Urbana Public Library, an absolute community gem.
Before or after a visit to Market at the Square, cooling off in connection with a visit to Carle Park or after you sip a milkshake at the Courier Cafe, you’ll want to head over to the Urbana Free Library. This historic, 100-year old building doesn’t just look the part — it’s also home to local history and genealogy, too. But since your kids probably won’t want to visit that part of the library unless they’re working on a history research project, let’s get to our list of the top 10 reasons to visit the library.
1. The creative arts are flourishing here. One of the things we love about the programming at Urbana Free Library is that kids are given regular opportunities to exercise their creative muscles. Look for story writing clubs and young artist’s studio events to gather the creative minds you may have together.
2. Programming also reflects the richly diverse make-up of Urbana. One of our favorite events that happens throughout the year is the Lunar New Year celebration, and all year long you can find culturally diverse events to attend with your children.
3. There are so many great places to gather here to meet with a friend and kids. Grab a nook near the train table, pick up some puzzles and take them into the auditorium space (when events aren’t taking place) or grab a chair somewhere else in the children’s area to supervise your littles before or after story time. You’ll be able to make a whole morning out of your library visit.
4. You can check out books, even if you’re not an Urbana resident. We are grateful that the Champaign Public Library and the Urbana Free Library have such a great relationship that cardholders to either library can check books out from the other. Curious about your options if you live outside Champaign or Urbana? Your best bet is to call or visit the library to get the exact options available for your particular situation.
5. There’s coffee. Yep. It’s a quaint little cafe nestled upstairs among the books and magazines that you may find yourself escaping to on a library visit alone.
6. You can print in 3D! What!? The instructions are simple and you’ll be charged a flat-job fee along with a per-gram rate for your project. How cool is that?
6. There’s free access to computers all over the library. You can work quietly in the Flex-n-Gate lab or you can utilize one of the computer workstations in the children’s area to simultaneously supervise your children or help them with their own work. Seriously, you’ll find computers everywhere here! And yes, there’s free wi-fi if you bring your own device.
7. Don’t have your own device? You can borrow one from the library. Things like Chromebooks and tablets can be checked out, along with more specialized equipment such as cameras. To find out exactly what you can check out, you should visit the library or call ahead.
8. Yes, the library plans things in this garden area right outside the library but you can also plan to visit the shaded benches with your kids at your leisure. It’s a special little nook tucked into Downtown Urbana that we know you’ll enjoy.
9. The library has an extensive collection of music. Items like guitars or percussion instruments can be checked out for up to two weeks and renewed up to five times if there are no other patron requests for that item.
10. The Urbana Free Library is home to a breadth of historical information for Champaign County. Books, journals, yearbooks and newspaper dating as early as 1852 can all be found here. Whether you’re a historian or your child is working on a genealogy project, we think that you should know exactly where to find these resources for the community on the second floor of the Urbana Free Library.
So check their online calendar to see what is coming up at the library and make a visit to the Urbana Free Library. Don’t forget that you may need to pay a meter to park depending on when you visit. And if you plan to get a library card while you’re in, you’ll want a picture ID and verification of your current Urbana residence.
To learn more about other services the Urbana Free Library offers, go to urbanafreelibrary.org.
Urbana Free Library hours
Monday-Thursday 9 a.m.-9 p.m.
Friday-Saturday 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
Sunday 1-5 p.m.