Giving FAQs

Why should I invest in Providence Public Library through a gift?

Providence Public Library is the one local institution that has the broadest reach and can perform the greatest public good. It is the People's University -- free and accessible to all. Its bast physical and digital collections are available to all residents of Rhode Island, free of charge. A gift to Providence Public Library is a gift of knowledge.

Isn't Providence Public Library a city department?

Despite its name, Providence Public Library is a private library governed by a board of trustees representing a cross section of Rhode Islanders who volunteer their time and share their expertise to set policies and oversee their implementation at Providence Public Library.

Does the City of Providence give Providence Public Library any money?

No. Since July 2009, the Library no longer receives any funding from the City of Providence; however, the Library continues to provide free services to Providence residents. Our downtown Library provides approximately one third of library services in Providence.

How do you raise the money needed to offer your award-winning programs and services?

The Library's funding sources:

  • Donations: Individual donors; family, private and corporate foundations; and federal appropriations.
  • An Endowment: Past donors have left us a legacy -- a sum of money donated to the organization over its 142-year history by many generous individuals or groups. The Library receives annual interest income from the endowment's investments.
  • State of Rhode Island Grant-in-Aid: All public libraries in the state receive money through the Library Grant-in-aid program, which provides a 25 percent match against local library spending. PPL receives a 25 percent match on its annual PPL Foundation contribution from its endowment.

How can I be sure my gift is making a difference?

We want you to see your gift in action and we would be happy to arrange for you to visit any program, have a conversation with any staff member or program participant, and/or peruse any public financial reports. We want you to be confident in the investment you make in Providence Public Library. We want you to be proud that you are working in partnership with us and, within the parameters of our gift acceptance and fiscal policies, we will do whatever is necessary to make that happen. We achieve success annually with our supporters' help.   View current Annual Report.

Can you provide me with some ways my gift might be used?

When you contribute $25 or more to the Memorial and Tribute Book Program, your name, or the name of the special person you choose to honor, will be placed in a new book to be enjoyed by many.

Planned giving programs such as endowed book funds, Building Legacies and bequests support the purchase of approximately 500 books a year. A personal endowment fund program such as Building Legacies allows your gifts over time to help the Library achieve important goals.

Your unrestricted gift could support such items as salaries for library staff as well as other expenses such as roof repairs. An unrestricted gift to the Annual Fund helps to strengthen collections, support award-winning programs and services, and provide free access to information and opportunities for learning to every Rhode Islander.

What is the difference between a restricted and unrestricted gift?

Your gift can be unrestricted which means that you transfer to management, staff and trustees the decision-making power to use your gift for those purposes that they deem will meet the greatest Providence Public Library need. Unrestricted gifts typically go toward general operating support.

Your gift can be restricted, which means you can restrict your gift to support a particular program or use.

What if I want to make a bequest or explore the benefits of a charitable gift annuity or some other type of planned gift?

We have planned giving advisors available to discuss your specific situation and explore various vehicles such as charitable gift annuities that provide a stream of income to you for life and give you a significant tax deduction.

If you choose to make a bequest, please notify us at 401-455-8003 so that we can provide you with sample bequest wording and include you in the PPL Foundation's Lyra Brown Nickerson Society.

I have some further questions. Whom should I call?

For further information, please call Nancy Ponte at (401) 455-8003 or at

Thank you for your interest in the Providence Public Library!

Your gift truly makes a difference in transforming lives. If you and/or your financial advisor would like to discuss an outright or planned gift to Providence Public Library and learn of the related tax benefits and naming opportunities for which you might be eligible, please call Nancy Ponte at (401) 455-8003 or at