Providence Public Library (PPL) proudly presented Providence resident Robert K. Taylor with its highest honor – The Enlightenment Award – at its 2023 Savor the Story Gala on May 5. “The Library is extremely proud to acknowledge Rob Taylor as an esteemed member of PPL’s family over the past 20 years and sincerely honored to acknowledge his significant and enduring contributions to the Library and the critical role he has played in envisioning our future and helping to make it a reality,” said Jack Martin, PPL’s Executive Director.
PPL’s Enlightenment Award is presented to those who have demonstrated their commitment to and passion for the mission of Providence Public Library, the ideals exemplified by a life of learning, and the value and importance of sharing knowledge. Previous recipients include Mary B. Olenn (2022), Maureen McDonald (2021), Senator Jack Reed (2019), Rosalyn Sinclair (2018), Martha Sherman (2013), and Howard Sutton/The Providence Journal (2013).
Having served as an active member of the PPL Corporation since 2002, Rob Taylor joined the Library’s Board of Trustees in 2006 at a time when libraries were struggling to reimagine their missions and work for the 21st century. Upon nomination to the Board during the 2006 PPL annual meeting, Rob listened while a national researcher and library consultant spoke about libraries needing to swiftly respond to changing community needs. She talked of emerging principles in library service, including the concept of a “great third place,” library spaces designed for people first – not just for books or computers – and new and creative public uses of library buildings. She highlighted the idea of a changing scope of services and the need for more innovation.
One might say Rob likely agreed – taking these messages to heart, passionately dedicating himself to a dynamic vision for PPL’s future, and doing so with a steadfast determination to make that vision a reality.
Rob Taylor has been a true library champion and a constant and dependable guiding force for PPL over the past 20 years. He took on leadership positions from the moment he joined the Board of Trustees, and has since held every board office and worked on almost every board committee. In his early years as a Trustee – during a time of challenge and transition for the Library – Rob never hesitated to jump in head first. He applied his steady presence and thoughtful demeanor to task after task – whether it was working to put the Library on firmer financial footing, laying the groundwork for new and exciting programs and services, or putting building blocks in place for transformative facilities upgrades. Rob ultimately became Chair of the Board in 2012, and served in that role for six years.
Rob has been instrumental in shaping the Library’s future. As many people who’ve known him and who’ve had the good fortune of serving with him in his various capacities at PPL can attest to, not only did Rob have a clear vision, but he also had an ambitious plan for the Library from the beginning. And, he recognized that this vision and plan would not come about overnight.
Rob helped to lead PPL through its intensive transition from Rhode Island’s largest library system – with ten citywide locations – to the cutting-edge education hub that the Library is today. He has guided PPL and its community through multiple, critical foundation-laying strategic planning processes; each strategic plan building off of the prior and all focused on expanding the Library’s educational mission. He set the wheels in motion for a once-in-a-lifetime physical transformation of his beloved third place – a project he envisioned long before the 2018 groundbreaking. And, nearly two decades after first signing on as a Trustee – after immense effort, long volunteer hours, and a tenacity few could match! – Rob has proudly seen PPL become a Library for the 21st century, with a talented and continually growing staff serving record numbers of patrons and doing nationally recognized work. Furthermore, Rob’s PPL family is not alone in recognizing his sincere passion for libraries and his outstanding leadership; in 2018, he received the Trustee of the Year Award from the Rhode Island Library Association.
Not one to rest, Rob’s work continues today as Co-Chair of PPL’s DEI Committee, helping to oversee yet another essential growth process for the Library as we work to embed diversity, equity, and inclusion in all that we are and do.
“For his tireless dedication, inspired leadership, and singular vision over the past 20 years – and for making PPL’s future a reality – we recognize Rob and proudly honor him with the Library’s 2023 Enlightenment Award,” said Elizabeth Debs, Board Chair.
Rob Taylor is a partner at Providence’s Partridge Snow & Hahn and currently serves on numerous PPL committees, including Diversity Equity & Inclusion, Finance, Investment, and Special Collections.
Providence Public Library (PPL) is a non-profit organization founded in 1875 to provide public library service. PPL is a library re-imagined. Our library is a place where tradition and innovation intersect — an open and collaborative center of teaching and learning where people can connect, experience, create and achieve.