Site now includes the John Hutchins Cady Research Scrapbooks, a valuable and popular architectural resource

Providence Public Library (PPL) has launched its new Digital Library, available at ProvLibDigital.org.  Featuring eight collections and nearly 5000 items, to date, from Providence Public Library’s Special Collections and Rhode Island Collection, ProvLibDigital.org is Rhode Island’s latest growing searchable digital repository offering the public free access to thousands of historical and significant resources.

“The Library has been making a growing number of its collections digitally accessible over the past several years, but with the launch of ProvLibDigital.org, we are moving ahead on a key strategic goal to enhance our Digital Library, with a primary focus of creating access to our unique special collections, as well as content generated by the Library through innovative programming and special research fellowships. These resources will become an integral part of our users’ library experience,” said Library Executive Director Jack Martin.

“Providence Public Library has a number of special collections that include historic photographs and newspaper clippings from cities and towns across the state.  Digitizing these items and putting them online at ProvLibDigital.org makes it possible for all Rhode Islanders to easily access items that document the rich history of our state,” said Karen Mellor, Chief of the Rhode Island Office of Library and Information Services.The Library’s continuing objective with ProvLibDigital.org is to create one localized site for digital collections, where users can search for content from across our Special Collections, while also ensuring continued free access to our unique materials for download and creative use.

“PPL has world-class collections that the public might not expect to find at a public library and our goal is to make them freely accessible to people, offering hi-res, downloadable images for general public use,” said Stacie Parillo, PPL Digital Producer.Collections currently featured on ProvLibDigital.org are from the Library’s generalized Special Collections and the specialized Rhode Island Collection. So far they include (some are only partial collections at this time):

  • John B. Archer Collection
  • John Hutchins Cady Research Scrapbooks
  • Glass Negative Collection
  • Rhode Island Photograph Collection
  • Dorothy Bell Collection of Valentines
  • Rhode Island Stereocard Collection
  • William Arnold Autograph Collection
  • Rhode Island Postcard Collection

“We are particularly excited to announce the addition of one of our newest digital collections, the John Hutchins Cady Research Scrapbooks, because of its high historical value to architectural historians and enthusiasts” said Parillo.  It is PPL’s newest fully digitized collection online and searchable at www.provlibdigital.org.

Digitization of the John Hutchins Cady Research Scrapbooks was funded by the Rhode Island Office of Library and Information Services through a grant to the Providence Public Library, which is designated as the state’s reference research center (AskRI.org), as part of ongoing efforts to share historical collections of statewide significance. Through the digitization of historical resources, PPL significantly enhances the public’s access to highly used collections that were previously only available to those who would physically need to visit the Library.

Cady was the foremost architectural historian of Rhode Island and the force behind the Providence Preservation Society.  These notebooks reflect his research into the architectural history of the state and include over 2200 images.  They are a very useful and popular resource.  By digitizing them, PPL is increasing access at the same time as preserving the fragile, original albums.The Library expects the next major import into ProvLibDigital.org to be its Rhode Island General Photograph Collection, which contains approximately 6,000 images currently only partially available digitally.  

Since its founding in 1875, the private, non-profit Providence Public Library (PPL) has served the City of Providence and State of Rhode Island, growing and innovating in response to the changing needs of its community, often recognized regionally and nationally for providing award-winning public library services. As the state’s premiere personal learning institution, the Library is focused on building and strengthening our core mission and services for all Rhode Islanders -- expanding our reach and fostering critical connections with individuals and groups statewide -- to nurture and enhance the educational, historical and cultural fabric of Rhode Island.