Providence Public Library announces $25M renovation and capital campaign

THE PROVIDENCE PUBLIC LIBRARY announced a $25 million renovation project to its downtown Providence building and a capital campaign to fund it. / COURTESY PROVIDENCE PUBLIC LIBRARY
THE PROVIDENCE PUBLIC LIBRARY announced a $25 million renovation project to its downtown Providence building and a capital campaign to fund it. / COURTESY PROVIDENCE PUBLIC LIBRARY

PROVIDENCE – The Providence Public Library has announced a $25 million renovation that includes safety system upgrades and infrastructure improvements at the library’s downtown buildings, the nonprofit announced Thursday.

The organization said that the renovation will, “transform the Library’s 1950s wing, auditorium and special collection areas to provide 21st-century library services for Providence and Rhode Island residents.”

The project is expected to begin in August and will take place over approximately 18 months. The PPL will remain open during renovations, but onsite services will be restricted.

The PPL also announced the launch of a capital campaign to fund the project. In its announcement, the library said it had raised more than half of the funds necessary for the project.

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Already, the project has received an $8.8 million grant from the R.I. Office of Library and Information Services, a leadership gift of $1 million from Rosalyn Sinclair as part of the newly launched capital campaign and a $200,000 grant from the R.I. State Council on the Arts, among other gifts and pledges.

The PSL also said an additional $4 million in grants will be announced in “the coming weeks.”

BOND will be the construction manger for the project, which was designed by designLAB, an architecture firm based in Boston.

“This renovation plan and the improvements to be made to the library’s primary service areas are a centerpiece of our ongoing THINK AGAIN Strategic Plan for re-imagining and transforming our library. With these upgrades and modernization of these 65-year-old buildings, we will better be able to deliver the programs and services we’ve outlined to meet the evolving needs of our diverse community of library users in Providence and statewide,” said Jack Martin, PPL executive director in a statement.

The PPL identified 10 improvements as part of the renovation:

  • Complete implementation of required life safety systems: fire alarm and fire protection per an approved implementation plan, in addition to major infrastructure, technology and HVAC upgrades throughout the facility
  • Repurposed and better utilized spaces throughout the building, including providing expanded community learning venues with state-of-the-art and flexible meeting, classroom and exhibition spaces, as well as increased user-centric, quiet-study spaces
  • Improved overall visitor experience through clearer circulation and a more welcoming and visible entry by way of a new, spacious atrium and open, multi-level stairway
  • Upgraded and improved information/resource access and service points for all library users
  • A new education lab/“workshop” for hands-on learning and creating
  • Expanded, dedicated teen space and updated Children’s Library
  • Improved/expanded computing resources throughout
  • Improved/expanded PPL’s Special Collections suite, including storage, research and digital preservation facilities
  • Upgraded 260-seat Auditorium, including making it fully handicap accessible
  • Exterior upgrades and window improvements to increase visibility into and out of the building

“Libraries are important cultural centers that provide critical services, especially for our seniors, and serve as hubs of creativity for our youth,” said Mayor Jorge O. Elorza in prepared remarks. “The renovation and planned improvements to Providence Public Library will enable it to better serve the 21st-century needs of all of our residents.”