I arrived at the Smith Hill Branch of the Providence Public Library today at a few minutes before 10:00 a.m. On Thursday's it is supposed to open at 9:00 a.m. There was a sign on the door explaining that because of lack of staff, the branch would open at 10:00. Already there were two other people waiting. Fifteen minutes after ten, the door was not unlocked. We soon learned that the branch would open at an "indeterminate" time.
The Library Reform Group of Providence (Rhode Island) has been struggling, on behalf of all patrons, to defend the "Public" elements of the system. The smaller branches have lost funding and experienced decreases in hours. One branch literally experienced the loss of its roof. (Washington Park Branch). Please check out the link below for detailed history and analysis.
I am the daughter and granddaughter of library workers.
Because I have encountered the unexpected temporary closings of many of the branches, I decided to make a few phone calls. I phoned the "Central" Branch downtown, but the recording reminded me that they were closed. I succeeded in speaking with Derek Puerta who works for Senator Whitehouse ( Mazel Tov, Derek, on your recent graduation!) and with Serena Conley, who works for Providence's Mayor, David Cicilline. By sheer luck, I reached Ed Fitzpatrick from the Providence Journal. I told him the numbers outside the door were growing--a mother with a young child, an elder or two...He told me he'd speak to an editor. I left a message for John Lombardi, my city councilman.
Andy Dickerman, writer and photographer, arrived. He took pictures, got my name and that of another person waiting...
Just as John called me back, a lovely woman arrived with a key. She had received an email from KathyEllen Bullard, who oversees all of the branches. Kathyellen's direct # is (401) 455-8022.
Her email address is email@example.com.
My issue is not with the librarian on vacation or the worker with a sick child. My issue is with a Board of Trustees who would rather fight with City Hall than support needs of the "outlying" communities.
I type this from inside the Smith Hill Branch which will alas close in 8 minutes for lunch; with one more staff person present, it could remain open. Thanks for reading this!