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New Library Spaces Have Young Children Rocketing Towards Learning and Growth

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

When you want to spark learning and growth, it helps to have a space that gets young children really fired up.

At the Worcester Public Library’s Main Branch, newly renovated areas are inspiring children with bold visuals and interactive toys and games that promote healthy development. 

It’s a veritable playground of positive play time!

Safe Spaces and Amazing Visual Appeal

Located on the third floor of WPL’s Main Branch, the new Arthur M. and Martha R. Pappas Children’s Center provides greater privacy and safety for young ones as well as separate spaces for different age groups, including the Baby Corner and the Tween Corner.

But it’s the visuals that will really knock your socks off. The stairwell to the new space welcomes visitors with a mural by local artist Ryan Gardell while the third floor itself features a purple rocket. 

The message to young children is clear: here, your imagination can run wild.

“We wanted to create a destination that kids really want to come and discover,” said WPL Youth Services Coordinator Cynthia Bermudez. “If kids are saying to their parents, ‘Mom, I want to go to the library,’ then we can get them there and interest them in books and programming.”

There are also nods to Worcester’s heritage, including triple-decker reading nooks and wall paintings of the city’s skyline and the iconic red bridge in Elm Park.

“It’s a little mini-Worcester inside here,” said Bermudez.

Books, Games, and Toys for Positive Play Time

Ensconced in these safe and welcoming spaces, young children are free to do what they do best: explore, play, learn, and test out their burgeoning social skills.

“This is obviously a place where children can read or borrow books, because we’re all about literacy, but we also know kids need a place to engage in positive play time and other subjects such as STEM, music and art.

Interactive computer wall panels with educational games, an interactive floor projector, and giant books are all part of the appeal. Additionally, WPL’s Playscape at the Library project will soon offer “imaginary real world environments such as a store and a farm with animals to encourage play time and social interaction,” according to Bermudez. 

Thanks to a Mind in the Making grant, these thematic playscapes will rotate through all WPL branches on a quarterly basis.

Activities and Entertainment for Young Children

WPL’s inspiring new spaces are already hosting fun activities. On one recent day, Baby Bounce story time was held in the new Edward M. Augustus Jr. Children's Ellipse while an arts and crafts class showed young ones how to make no-sew t-shirt bags at one of the branches.

For a full list of activities, check out WPL’s online calendar.

Edward Street is proud to partner with Cynthia Bermudez and the entire team of WPL children’s librarians.

A special thank-you to WPL’s fundraising partners: The City of Worcester has provided $9 million in funding to support the design and construction of the project. The Worcester Public Library Foundation and its supporters provided an additional $4.2 million to help fund the renovation and create an endowment for future needs. The Playscape at the Library program was funded by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, administered by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.