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Providence library sets new course

COURTESY PROVIDENCE PUBLIC LIBRARY
LOOKING TO CREATE A NEW revenue stream, the Providence Public Library is undertaking a $4 million renovation in anticipation of opening up the more than century-old building to events and celebrations.
Posted 3/23/12

PROVIDENCE – The Providence Public Library announced two major initiatives recently, both designed to expose more of the 137-year-old institution’s unique collections and physical space.

The first step in the new plan is a $4 million restoration of the library’s 112-year-old classical Renaissance-style building, including replacement of the HVAC system as well as installation of a sprinkler system, along with renovation of a number of rooms for new, public uses.

“We have a responsibility to preserve our historically significant building, as well as ensure our vital public library services and unique resources for generations of Rhode Islanders,” said PPL Board Chair William Simmons.

The library already has received a $673,000 grant from The Champlin Foundations for the HVAC infrastructure work, according to PPL Director Dale Thompson. “In addition, we have received a great amount of support from area businesses, state and local officials, as well as historic and preservation organizations,” she added. “Our plan calls for all of the restorations to be funded through private sources.”

The second part of the plan calls for opening the library up for more events, and to that end, PPL has inked a deal with Russell Morin Hospitality Solutions to help create a “new, steady income stream with which to continue to fund the library’s important early literacy, economic advancement, and lifelong learning services,” said Simmons.

The library has space for meetings and events of 100 to 500 people, and its historic spaces are unique in the city. Weddings, corporate meetings and community events are all expected to use the building.

In addition to the physical renovations that will make more of the library available for use, the restoration is designed to showcase more of the unusual collections at the library, including, among others, the Brownell Collection of Atlantic Coast Ship Models.

Much of the work so far has been donated by a number of firms, said the library in a statement, including Architect Ed Wojcik, Design Collaborative, designLAB Architects, Dimeo Construction Company and Implementations Inc.

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