Library Reform Group

December 19, 2008

Library Reform Group forms non-profit to take over all nine PPL branches

Filed under: 1 — Patricia @ 8:12 pm

At its December 18 meeting, the PPL 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.)


The Providence Community Library’s purpose is to “promote, support, organize and/or manage a public library system in and for the city of Providence for the benefit of the community.”


Our board will include representatives of the 9 library branches as well as publicly appointed members. 

  •  some members will be elected by the branch library Friends groups
  • some will be appointed by the Mayor and City Council
  • some will be elected by the Board itself.

We are now developing a budget for running a full library system.  This budget shows that PCL will be able to operate a nine-branch library system to meet city patrons’ library needs without raising the City’s contribution. 


 This assumption is based upon three premises:


·      that the City shifts its funds presently going to PPL to the Providence Community Library,


·      that the State does the same


·      that the new organization engages in robust fundraising. 

In fact, not being burdened with the PPL’s troubled history, which has alienated both donors and library users, we expect to expand fundraising and therefore increase branch library services beyond the current level within the next two or three years.


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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