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The Chace Children's Discovery Library... the story starts here

Providence Public Library
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Innovation Summary

The Chace Children's Discovery Library (CCDL) is a re-imagining of our space for young children, birth to approximately age 8 (pre-readers to early readers). It focuses first and foremost on the children's books, in an interactive environment that is designed to be used by children, parents, educators, and caregivers in support of the key ways in which children acquire pre-reading and early reading skills. The re-imagining was done in conjunction with the designers and educators of Providence Children's Museum.

Problem Statement

Providence Public Library (PPL) experienced a sea change in July 2009 with the separation of the branches from the central library, with the central library then becoming a stand-alone library. It refocused its services in three areas: lifelong learning, economic advancement, and early childhood literacy. It was important on several levels that we both establish a public brand for these three areas, as well as provide highly visible and successful programs as representative of each area. The early childhood literacy emphasis caused us to rethink the design of our room and explore ways to make it a destination place; and to assist in establishing us as a community place with early education value, specifically for pre-readers and early readers. We thus set a program goal of helping "grow readers" and of fostering a love of reading as impetus to becoming skilled readers and successful learners. Additional goals included: assisting in understanding by parents and family based caregivers of the importance of


The redesign of the space and resultant program of service incorporated the following: collections, staff expertise, workshops, programming, and interactive literacy learning areas. Those interactive areas include an educator/parent collection, a space for highlighting smaller niche collections, an area for the Spanish language books, a Baby "Nest", a cozy reading nook for parent/child reading and sharing, a Forest for dramatic play and storytelling, and several general activity centers including a storytelling area, story starter boards, alphabet blocks with "surprises" inside, and art areas. All these activity areas were designed to facilitate print motivate/awareness, phonological awareness, vocabulary, narrative, letter/alphabet knowledge, rhyming/music, and the imaginative world of books and reading. We also filled a vacant children's librarian position with an early childhood educator with credentials and connections in Rhode Island's early education environment. lastly, we partnered with the Provid


Visits to the room have increased and program attendance is through the roof. Sometime late in the year we will survey parents about their use of the room as part of their child's early learning routine. The February 2012 statistics compared to February 2011: attendance at programs has increased 46%. The loan of materials to off-site agencies has increased over 33%. Overall juvenile circulation increased over 30% (even though overall circulation is slightly down). A preliminary look at the March statistics tells us this trend continued. The publicity for the new room has also generated additional partnerships with and visits by schools and agencies working with young children. Additionally, our ESOL family literacy program recently received a grant that will enable them to train and supervise a number of adult student "guides" who will be stationed in the CCDL to assist parents in fully utilizing its resources and understanding the ways in which it can support early literacy. Lastly, this initiative