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Feeding Creativity: Play Library

Getting to know Cincinnati's Creative Community

The Cincinnati PLAY LIBRARY embodies wonderment and imagination. Just a 15-minute stroll from 21c and located at 1306 Main St in Over The Rhine, it could possibly be the best library you ever step foot in. Instead of book-lined walls, the PLAY LIBRARY is filled with toys, games, puzzles, dress-up clothes, dolls, swings, a small puppet theater, and more.

One of the main core values of the PLAY LIBRARY is promoting the importance of play. The space is a community gathering spot for kids and parents not dissimilar to a coffee shop, but instead of lattes and Americanos, it serves Legos and train tracks. Having access to safe, quality toys and games is something that most city-dwelling parents have come to appreciate. And without the worry of germs (every toy that gets checked out is completely sanitized before being re-shelved), the library is an amazing place to visit, for locals and visitors alike.

Parents who bring their children are encouraged to spend time playing, too. The intimate size of the library encourages positive family interactions, discussions, and participation. Although having enthusiasm is not required, it may be hard to hide when you find toys from your childhood on the shelves. Another thing not required is membership. The PLAY LIBRARY is set up in a way that can benefit anyone and everyone. If you do sign up for a membership, you can check toys out and bring them back as often as you’d like. If you don’t have a membership, you can still come to the PLAY LIBRARY and use the toys and games and everything else in the space during open hours. Both are great options. A third option is renting the space for family-friendly game nights, events, and birthday parties.

Founder Julia Rose Fischer came up with the PLAY LIBRARY concept for a (granted) People’s Liberty grant project submission. Since then, it has become an important meeting place in OTR for kids (and adults) of all ages. The space is purposely laid out with the adult and older kid games in one room and the little kid games and toys in another. Fischer, a former toy designer, said, “playing brings people together in a way that I don’t think anything else does.” That’s the real beauty of the place. You don’t see parents locked on their phones while their kids cut loose. Most people who walk into the PLAY LIBRARY walk past the seating area and almost immediately explore the inventory, oftentimes wide-eyed and full of wonder and at that moment, no matter what your age, everyone is a kid again.

Located on Main Street in historic Over the Rhine, the PLAY LIBRARY is a hub for family-friendly activity on a street known for its bars, restaurants, shops, and music venues. It is an amazingly unique place to experience and should definitely be on the list of “must-see” local attractions for every family visiting Cincinnati. More info, including hours of operation and a full list of their object inventory, can be found here.

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