PROVIDENCE, RI – Standing on the front steps of Providence’s 100-year-old Knight Memorial Library, U.S. Senator Jack Reed today kicked off National Library Week (April 7-13) and partnered with the Community Libraries of Providence (CLPVD) to promote youth literacy and library services.

Senator Reed joined CLPVD Director Cheryl Space and Youth Services Coordinator Judanne Hamidzada to announce the “Reading Refresh” program – a significant overhaul of the library system’s print and digital collections made possible by a $100,000 federal earmark secured by Reed.

“Our libraries offer so much more than books. They are community centers that help Rhode Islanders learn new skills, identify opportunities for growth, and find new passions that help enrich our lives,” said Senator Reed, a leading champion of childhood literacy and public libraries. “I was proud to help secure $100,000 for CLPVD to update and expand their collections for youth across Rhode Island. The ‘Reading Refresh’ program will help get more kids reading books that interest them.  This program will ensure kids have well stocked libraries at home, a host of opportunities to learn online, and will continue to build enthusiasm for learning both in and out of the classroom.”

“This significant gift of new books for the children of Providence is the absolute perfect way to celebrate Freedom to Read Day, the first day of the 2024 National Library Week: Ready, Set, Library!  Our 9 neighborhood libraries serve children with a wealth of programs to enrich and nurture their creativity, literacy, and sense of belonging. These new books will truly refresh our collections and we can't wait to see the joy on the children's faces when they encounter these exciting new additions on the shelves,” said CLPVD Director Cheryl Space.

Nearly 40 percent of CLPVD’s current books were purchased before 2009, including 43 percent of children’s titles. Additionally, only 5 percent of CLPVD’s collection is in Spanish while Spanish-speaking residents make up more than 40 percent of the neighborhoods where many of CLPVD’s libraries are located. CLPVD serves about 131,744 people, according to the RI Office of Library and Information Services.

Senator Reed secured this federal funding to help all nine community-based Providence libraries provide new selections for Rhode Island youth across the state through the Ocean State Libraries (OSL) network. CLPVD currently has 201,402 items in its collections and 82,529 of those items were checked out in the last 9 months in addition to 47,626 items from other OSL locations.

This funding will help CLPVD diversify their collection to provide more options for patrons and will allow for expanded access to online streaming services and other digital content, including e-books. Furthermore, the “Reading Refresh” project will enable CLPVD to supply free, in-demand titles to students to help families build up their home libraries.  

CLPVD is the largest library system in Rhode Island. Beyond providing free access to a host of print and digital materials, the nine CLPVD libraries – Fox Point, Knight Memorial, Mount Pleasant, Olneyville, Rochambeau, Smith Hill, South Providence, Wanskuck, and Washington Park – collaborate with city schools to help improve education outcomes, connect residents with essential services and learning opportunities they need, and provide resources and support to help nurture new and growing businesses.

Senator Reed is the leading champion of public libraries in the U.S. Senate.  He has received numerous awards from the library community for his efforts to advocate for strengthening America’s network of public and school libraries including an Honorary Membership in the American Library Association (ALA), multiple Crystal Apple awards from the American Association of School Librarians (AASL), and several recognitions from the Rhode Island Library Association.