Thomas Hughes Children’s Library Gets a New Look

Categories: Early Learning

Thanks to a generous $2.5 million grant from Exelon, Thomas Hughes Children’s Library is getting a complete transformation into an early learning center that encourages learning through play.

If you’ve ventured into Harold Washington Library Center and headed to the Thomas Hughes Children’s Library, you’ve noticed that it’s been temporarily relocated to the first floor Popular Library. That’s because there is exciting activity taking place behind those doors to make way for a completely reimagined and state-of-the-art children’s space.

Thanks to a generous $2.5 million grant from Exelon to the Chicago Public Library Foundation, Thomas Hughes Children’s Library is getting a complete transformation into an early learning center that encourages learning through play. Funds will also upgrade children’s spaces in 14 branch locations.

ThomasHuges_rendering-350x282The innovative early learning space designed by Gensler Architecture incorporates science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and the five practices of early learning – Talk, Sing, Read, Write and Play – into the space itself. These focus areas play a critical role in children’s social and cognitive development.

Studies show that play is a primary building block for a child’s development, inspiring creativity and engagement with peers. The redesigned children’s library encourages interaction between children and materials, keeps reading materials at eye level, and supports the development of deeper learning through STEM experiences. CPL librarians will also focus on encouraging parents and caregivers to engage in active play with their kids, as a child’s primary teacher within the space.

Highlights of the new Thomas Hughes Children’s Library include:

Thomas Hughes_Early Learning

  • Flexible space with movable furniture pieces that allow for re-configuring spaces for different program purposes
  • Boomerang design that sections off areas by age groups with flexible furniture pieces. These different areas, referred to as “neighborhoods” include the early learners neighborhood for kids ages 0-5; the elementary school kids neighborhood for kids ages 6-10; and the tweens neighborhood for kids ages 10-12. Each  neighborhood is fitted with age appropriate toys, furniture, and activities.

With the re-envisioning of the Thomas Hughes Children’s Library, children and their families will enjoy dynamic, active learning centers and programming aimed at evoking curiosity. The goal is that children will explore ideas and interests they might have not considered before and embark on an adventure of discovery.

Construction of the space began November 2016 and the work is expected to be completed in the summer of 2017, just time to kick off our Summer Learning Challenge!