Friday, December 19, 2008

Providence Community Library, a Public Library For All

I missed the board meeting yesterday, but am grateful to Pat Crowley for his "liveblogging" it on behalf of RIFuture.

Here is the text of an email from Patricia of the Library Reform Group

Dear library advocates,

At yesterday's PPL board meeting, the board voted to continue library operations only at Central and four branches after June 30, 2009. The Governor's representative on the board, Mark McKenney, voted against the plan, while the Mayor's representative (Kas DeCarvalho) abstained. All ten non-public board members who were present at yesterday's meeting voted in favor of the proposal.

The Library Reform Group emphatically rejects PPL's plan. We have formed a new non-profit organization called Providence Community Library. We have drafted a budget, worked out staffing projections, and planned for a community-based governing body. We have shown our proposal to urban library directors in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, who have concluded that our plan is feasible. We call upon the City to transfer its funding from PPL to the Providence Community Library in order to protect library services for city residents in ALL our neighborhoods.

During the Public Response period, Elaine Heeber of the Library Reform Group quoted a 2006 ProJo editorial that recommended PPL should "seriously consider giving the City of Providence any or all of its branches, while keeping its flagship facitlity on Empire Street. Then the library. . .would be able to better serve the public, and protect and even expand the major collections." Marcus Mitchell, one of the organizers of the Providence Community Library, followed up on Elaine's comment by reading a statement announcing the formation of the Providence Community Library and urging the City to turn the branches over to the PCL (see below).

We will need your support in the weeks ahead as we work to convince the City that it is time to transfer the stewardship of our branches to a new community-based organization that will run them efficiently and responsibly--and will put the welfare of library patrons first.


Marcus Mitchell's statement:

The dilemma facing us today is the culmination of several years of processing. Unfortunately, the Providence Public Library Board appears to have assumed a position that will dramatically reduce library services to the communities of Providence.

A severe reduction of library services to neighborhoods throughout Providence will greatly affect the quality of life and social fabric of our city. Our children, our seniors, job seekers, our students and the administration of scores of programs will be adversely affected. Especially during these economic troubling times, a reduction of library services in our neighborhoods is unacceptable and not seen by the citizens as a “sustainable system”.

In anticipation of an “unacceptable reduction of services” model proposal, several community leaders, concerned citizens and community-based organizations have formed a coalition: The Providence Community Library. This entity has examined the issues of our library management and budgetary challenges: and is prepared to assume the management & administration of all 9 branches of the public library system. We will be presenting a full budget and proposal to the Mayor & City Council, and actively pursuing the City’s full support of the Providence Community Library. We disagree with PPL’s “sustainable model”, their budget projections and several management decisions.

Providence Community Library will be holding public forums and press conferences in the very near future to unveil our plans to maintain the current level of services to the neighborhoods of the city of Providence.

(Note: to contact the Providence Community Library directly, write to )

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