Providence Public Library Announces Appointment of New Executive Director

Long-time Library Director Dale Thompson to Retire

The Providence Public Library (PPL) Board of Trustees has announced the appointment of H. Jack Martin, MLIS, as the Library’s next Executive Director upon the retirement of current Library Director Dale Thompson.  Martin will begin on January 13, 2014. 

Martin comes to the private, independent PPL with diverse library experiences over nearly 25 years, including 11 years at New York Public Library (NYPL) where he held a number of positions ultimately serving as Assistant Director for Public Programs and Lifelong Learning.  In his years at NYPL, Martin oversaw cultural and educational programming for adults, teens and children in the system’s 90 citywide branches.  His work there included developing and implementing innovative digital media and online programs, an area of continued interest in his most recent position as Associate Director of the Online Leadership Program for Global Kids, Inc., a New York-based nonprofit.  In this position, he was responsible for organizational development and fundraising.  In addition, Martin is the Immediate Past President of the Young Adult Library Services Association, a division of the American Library Association.  Martin holds a B.A. from the University of Georgia, Athens, and an MLIS from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York.

“We are confident that Jack Martin’s experience, energy, and enthusiasm will help advance PPL’s core mission of providing free, quality library service to all Rhode Islanders, and enable us to build upon our core strengths in innovative ways to reach new and expanded audiences,” said Robert K. Taylor, PPL Board Chair. “PPL has been fortunate over the past three decades to have the extremely dedicated service of our retiring director Dale Thompson. She has guided this Library through greatly changing times with vision and passion,” said Taylor.

Martin’s early library experiences include two years at PPL, where he worked in the Library’s Art & Music Collection as well as in various branch libraries. “I am looking forward to returning to Providence and helping this venerable Library to continue to develop and evolve for the future,” said Martin. “Just as they always have been, libraries continue to be critical institutions of lifelong learning and significant places in our communities.  I believe our Library’s future must be directly connected to the learning goals of our community and to that end I will be exploring all opportunities for vibrant partnerships, collaborations and new initiatives.”

Outgoing director Dale Thompson is retiring after nearly 34 years with PPL – 25 as director.  During her leadership, the private, independent PPL has achieved numerous successes and has been continuously recognized as a leading library, most notably becoming only the second urban library to receive the IMLS National Award for Library Service in 2001 in recognition of work to transform PPL’s branch library system into a vibrant community resource during the 1990s.

Under Thompson’s direction, the Library implemented a variety of innovative community services and programs – from early childhood and family to adult literacy programs, a number of which became national models and continue to evolve. In addition, the Library flourished in its statewide role, leading statewide technology initiatives such as the development of the Cooperating Libraries Automated Network (CLAN), now Ocean State Libraries, and serving as the state-designated Reference Resource Center for more than 20 years.

With sights always set on providing the best library service possible and ensuring PPL’s role as an anchor institution of education, literacy and economic development, Thompson worked creatively and tirelessly to protect services in the face of relentless budget pressures, while also advocating for preserving the Library’s private resources.  Thompson has led the Library through multiple capital campaigns, including the ongoing Opening Doors campaign to fund restorations to the Library’s 113-year-old Renaissance building and make necessary improvements to its 1950s addition.  In addition, she has led PPL’s most recent enterprise – the establishment a successful partnership for its event venue business.


Providence Public Library was founded in 1875.  While its mission is to provide free public library services, the Library is an independent, non-profit organization governed by a board of trustees and supported primarily through private funding sources, including its own Providence Public Library Foundation. Today, the Library is focused on utilizing its unique collections and resources to provide programs and services for early learners and their families, adult advancement, and a broad array of lifelong learning opportunities. The classical Renaissance-style building opened in 1900 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.  For more information, visit

PPL’s Mission

Providence Public Library inspires lifelong education among all Rhode Islanders, fostering personal fulfillment and enhanced quality of life for an informed, enlightened and engaged citizenry.