The dog days of summer are sitting on our laps, panting, and the school year seems like a very distant two weeks away.
So why not round up the young and restless and head to the city's signature library, Clearwater Main, at 100 N Osceola Ave., where you can spend an afternoon and bring home plenty of movies, books and smiles.
Even if the downtown location is not as close as your local branch, this 90,000-square-foot architectural gem is well worth the trip.
Built on a bluff 28 feet above sea level, the $20.2 million library features glass walls and magnificent vistas of Clearwater Harbor, Clearwater Beach, Caladesi Island State Park and beyond.
Robert A.M. Stern, dean of the Yale School of Architecture, was the architect of the four-story building with a subtle nautical theme and undulating roofline that resembles a wave.
"It so cool to see the storms roll in," said Jan Nickols, community services manager. "Sometimes we see dolphins out there."
Work in a bit of exercise by walking up the grand staircase with 88 steps (elevators are available).
Play cards, read a book or surf the Net in the library's airy atrium with its 60-foot ceiling. The adjacent Refresh Café, operated through the school system as a vocational training ground for students, won't reopen until Aug. 22., so feel free to pack a lunch.
Here are some more ideas to turn your summer blahs into summer bliss — all free.
m Pass the time in the Clearwater Main Library's atrium. The cafe, run by the school system, is closed until Aug. 22 so you may want to bring a snack.
m Visit the Tampa Bay Surface Design Guild member show in the Osceola and Carnegie Galleries, where artisans have whipped up a fiber-filled feast for the eyes. Nine Patch, above left, by Davida Milne is a 3-D mixed media collage made from tea bags and metal wires. Make sure the little ones get a glimpse of the crocheted, knitted and felted critters in the display Coral Reefs: Living and Dying, above right, which calls attention to the threats marine organisms face.
m Select from 4.75 miles of maple bookshelves holding more than 606,000 items including books, print materials, DVDs, CDs and VHS tapes. If the latest bestseller is put on hold, the library will have it sent to your local branch for easier pickup when it comes in.
m There's plenty for kids to do. Dmitry Newman, 6, above, enjoys playing a Poptropica video game at the library. The second-floor children's section has listening stations, a Sunshine State Reading Room, a program room with puppet stage and a variety of study areas.
Also upcoming for kids and families:
• Enjoy the Tricky Dogs Show, a high-energy circus-style dog act, at 2 p.m. Saturday.
• Listen at 2 p.m. Monday as storyteller Katie Adams presents "Tales from India."
• Watch the animated Pixar film Up at 2 p.m. Tuesday. It's the tale of an elderly man named Carl Fredricksen who launches his house into the sky via thousands of balloons.
• Bring your camera and have some fun with Ronald McDonald at 2 p.m. Aug. 15.
And more for everyone
• Download tunes for free. The Pinellas Public Library Cooperative now offers three free music downloads a week with a service called "Freegal." Visit pplc.us/downloadable.shtml to get started. You can also download audiobooks and eBooks at pplc.lib.overdrive.com.
• See an exhibit of 25 pieces of black amethyst glassware on the third floor. The collection from the '20s and '30s belongs to Vivian Edie of the Sparkling Clearwater Depression Glass Club. "When held up to the light, black amethyst has a purple hue," she said.
Submit ideas for Diversions features to Terri Bryce Reeves at [email protected] Events must take place in north Pinellas.