Guide to Forest Avenue Library (DMPL)

Forest Library Des Moines

Forest Avenue Library

1326 Forest Ave, Des Moines

When I was first planning to move to Des Moines to start my post-college adult life (12 years ago!), I made sure to research the library system. I was delighted to learn about all of the different branches. I love to read, but admit I didn’t utilize our incredible public libraries fully until I became a mom. 

Why do you love Forest Avenue Library?

We love that the Forest Avenue Library embraces multiculturalism. It has bilingual Spanish story time, a great multilingual book selection, and indoor and outdoor play spaces. It is located in a neighborhood that is home to many refugees and immigrants. Plus, it’s close enough to our house in the Drake neighborhood that I can pop the kids on our electric bike for a quick after-dinner trip in summer. 

What kinds of activities and toys are there for kids? 

A carved archway by Sticks sets apart the literacy center for the little kids. My son loved their dinosaur toy selection, especially when we met up with his friend. 

What do your kids love most about Forest Avenue Library?

We love that, not only is this a great spot to stock up on books, but it’s also right next to Evelyn K. Davis Park, which is named after an early childhood educator and advocate for the poor. There’s a mix of equipment for kids of all ages, including one of those rope-web towers. The park has a reputation for being in a rougher neighborhood, but we have never felt unsafe and enjoy seeing people from a variety of backgrounds enjoying the park and library amenities. It’s good to get out of your bubble!

When we did the Des Moines Parks and Recreation “Tour Des Moines Parks” challenge a few summers ago, we visited the East Side Library for the first time, and it’s right next to an aquatic center, as is the South Side Library. Each library branch seems to have its own personality. 

What programs does this location offer? 

We’ve attended the Thursday evening bilingual story time several times. My kids aren’t bilingual, but I look for opportunities to expose them to different cultures and languages. The times we’ve attended it has been an intimate group and involved a small craft. They also offer it on Saturday mornings. 

  • Preschool Storytime (ages 3 – 6 years)
  • Cuentos y Canciones – Bilingual Storytime (toda la familia – entire family)

Insider tips 

In summer, pack a swimsuit and towel or extra set of clothes to change into so you can be the cool mom who lets your kids run through the fountain feature in between the library and the park. (I swear by stowing Turkish towels in a reusable tote to be ready for any adventure in the summer. They fold up super small and are great for stashing in the trunk or even bike basket.) Make a morning of it by stopping at Jethro’s BBQ Drake for a big family brunch, then make your way east to the park and library. 


This post is part of Des Moines Moms Blog’s Guide to Libraries in Des Moines area
Des Moines Library Guide for families


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