Take a Tour

The New Chace Children’s Discovery Library
at Providence Public Library

The Story Starts Here!




Providence Public Library's children’s room has been transformed into the Chace Children’s Discovery Library – The Story Starts Here! The new Chace Children’s Discovery Library officially opened in January 2012. Parents and children had the opportunity to learn about and explore the new Chace Children’s Discovery Library, free and open to public.

To create Rhode Island’s latest family learning destination, Providence Public Library (PPL) contracted Providence Children’s Museum, which has earned both a national reputation for the excellence of its exhibits and the popular acclaim of generations of southern New England’s children and caregivers.  The artful re-imagining and design of PPL’s children’s library has resulted in a captivating and enriching environment for early learners.

The Chace Children’s Discovery Library redesign has been made possible by a generous donation of the Chace Family and the Providence Public Library Foundation.

Discovery leads to Literacy…

“The primary goal of our new Chace Children’s Discovery Library is to offer children and families countless opportunities for exploration and joyful learning experiences,” said PPL Director Dale Thompson.  “This redesign will foster discovery, early literacy skills, and a love of reading, something that we know is so critical to creating lifelong learners.  We are extremely proud of our tradition as a nationally recognized leader in innovation, development, and delivery of model early literacy and learning programs and services.”  The new Chace Children’s Discovery Library represents PPL’s latest undertaking to provide Rhode Island’s youngest learners and their families and caregivers access to its vast collection and resources, as well as foundational early learning opportunities based on proven early literacy research and best practices.

The Children’s Discovery Library features several hands-on activity centers focused on key elements of literacy development, including its focal area – “the Forest.”  This magical silvery birch forest is designed to inspire imagination and story making.  A tree trunk hideaway, giant leaf-shaped cushions and playful props encourage pretend play.  An artfully designed mobile of gently swirling yellow birch leaves with letters hidden among them hangs high above the forest.

PPL’s extensive children's collection of books – over 60,000 in total with approximately 15,000 in the Discovery Library – will be interwoven throughout the room and truly creating a space where children will discover their own stories. The redesigned library also features:

  • comfortable spaces with oversized armchairs where adults and children can read together;
  • 26 small alphabet doors that open to reveal ants and apples, bears and balls
  • activity kits, magnetic poetry wall and phonic play areas;
  • a parent and educator resource area;
  • a soft baby nest for the Library’s youngest visitors.

The Story Behind the Library 

Young children begin to build literacy skills long before they can read and write.  They need environments that draw on their experiences and allow them to use that knowledge to explore and construct new understanding and skills.  Active, hands-on, developmentally-appropriate activities that encompass a variety of learning styles, diverse populations and developmental stages provide a continuum of meaningful experiences that meet children where they are and allow them to move forward.

The goals of the Chace Children’s Discovery Library are to:

  • promote a love of reading in young children;
  • foster an understanding by parents and family-based caregivers of the importance of pre-reading literacy activities as the foundation for successful reading acquisition;
  • provide professional support for early childhood educators.

PPL and its Early Literacy Learning Center librarians and staff have been leaders in providing foundational resources and education in the Providence and Rhode Island early learning community for decades. In 2001, PPL’s model program Family Place was recognized with a 2001 IMLS (Institute for Museums and Library Service) community service award. This led to a groundbreaking and ongoing collaboration with Ready to Learn Providence on the development of cornerstone early childhood learning programs and resources for parents and early literacy teachers. PPL is a leader in its distribution of early learning and reading kits (LARKs) and thousands of books and classroom materials circulated to teachers statewide.  The Chace Children’s Discovery Library will enable PPL to continue its strong tradition of premiere early literacy service to all Rhode Island children, families and caregivers.

Providence Children’s Museum’s exhibits team has conceived, designed, constructed and managed imaginative environments for children’s learning for more than 30 years.  Since the Museum’s inception, its design team has created learning environments for children and families that are welcoming, artful and engaging, and effectively meet the desired learning goals. “We are very fortunate to have been able to work with the professionals at Providence Children’s Museum to create what will surely be a popular early learning destination for Rhode Island children and families,” said Thompson.

Providence Children’s Museum Executive Director Janice O’Donnell said, “It has been a joy to create an engaging and fun play and learning environment for Providence Public Library. The Library and the Museum have long been resources for one another, supporting and enhancing a shared commitment to children and family learning.  We know each other and our community well – we are natural partners.”