The children's area is a forest-themed area populated by sculpted and painted characters from well-known children's books.

They had me at "Bookingham Forest." The children's area at the Old Worthington Library is a forest-themed area populated by sculpted and painted characters from well-known children's books. Half the fun of visiting this cozy cove is identifying all of them.

The library, which is part of the three-branch Worthington Libraries system, was one of the first in central Ohio to create a visually distinctive children's area. Prior to those pre-1990s days, you often knew you were in the children's section of a library only because the book shelves were suddenly so short. Nowadays, most children's sections are packed with color, comfortable seating and kid-only computer terminals.

Another pioneering aspect of the Old Worthington Library is the sheer volume of juvenile media (in forms other than books). For example, I don't think I've ever seen so many audiobooks for kids. Their collection of non-fiction DVDs also is impressively large. And a separate teen area, in another part of the library, has a large graphic novel collection.

Story times are very popular at this library. As Lisa Fuller, Worthington Libraries' spokeswoman, said: "We could schedule story times at 3 a.m. and people would come." Story times take place in the Bookingham Forest room, which is separate from the book and other media collection (a welcome floor plan if you know how noisy story times can get).

You'll need to know that parking can be a little challenging for this land-locked location. The parking spaces are scattered along three perimeters of the building along Stafford Avenue and Hartford Street. In other words, be alert whether you're driving or walking through the area.

The north entrance to the building has a small eating area with a couple of bistro-style tables and vending machines that dispense healthy snacks and drinks, plus a coffee dispenser with many different types of coffee drinks. Everything costs $1 to $1.50.