Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Public Libraries of Providence, RI

Today is the 125th anniversary of the birth of Clarence Edgar Sherman (1887-1974) who was associated with the Providence Public Library for 35 years and served as its Librarian from 1922 to 1957. Sherman helped build up the branch library system of the Providence Public Library and oversaw the  major expansion of the central library which took place in 1954. The occasion of Sherman's birthday prompted me to take a closer look at the Providence Public Library which is a not-for-profit corporation governed by a Board of Trustees. In doing so I discovered that in 2009 the Trustees basically jettisoned the branch libraries because of economic woes and the Providence Community Library was created to save the branch libraries in Providence. I'm pretty sure that Clarence turned over in his grave at this point. It was only last month that an agreement was reached on the transfer of ownership of the branch libraries to the City of Providence to be operated by the Providence Community Library. The Providence Public Library continues to administers what was previously the central library. That library serves as a statewide resource library. The Providence Public Library has a nice history of the library and some historical highlights on its website. I'm impressed with the Providence Public Library's Early Literacy Learning program, and later this month it will dedicate a new Children's Discovery Library. I'm also a fan of "Notes for Bibliophiles", the blog for the Special Collections Department of the library. Back to Clarence Sherman who felt that "The best library is the library in which books are most carefully selected, which is well organized and operated, and which best meets local needs and standards." A sentiment that both Providence libraries should make note of. A couple of my Providence Public Library artifacts are shown above.

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