Info Services Perspective

Providence Public Library Announces Transforming Renovation of its Downtown Building and Launch of Capital Campaign

July 12, 2018

Providence Public Library (PPL) is planning to undertake the state’s largest-ever library renovation beginning later this summer. The $25 million project will address required life safety systems upgrades, as well as make major infrastructure improvements to PPL’s downtown buildings (150 Empire Street). The 83,000-square foot project 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 planned renovations of PPL’s downtown building include:
• 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, 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, as well as appropriate interior environment for such
• Upgraded 260-seat Auditorium, including making it fully handicap accessible
• Exterior upgrades and window improvements to increase visibility into and out of the building

“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.

“This project is consistent with PPL’s long-standing commitment to providing Rhode Island residents with high-quality, high-impact services and experiences while welcoming all to explore, learn, and achieve their goals,” said Robert Edwards, PPL Board Chair.

The project is scheduled to begin this August and take place in stages over approximately 18 months. The project will be funded in part by an $8.8 million grant from the Rhode Island Office of Library and Information Services. An additional approximately $4 million will be announced in the coming weeks. A $200,000 grant from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts will partially fund the renovation of the Auditorium. The Library has undertaken a capital campaign to fund the project and is pleased to announce a leadership gift of $1 million from Rosalyn Sinclair in addition to other gifts and pledges to date.

The Library will continue operations throughout the renovations; however, onsite services will be restricted and access to PPL’s circulating collection will be limited. The Library will provide reduced services from temporary nearby facilities and community partner locations for some programs, and will continue to be an access point for ordering, picking up and dropping off materials from libraries throughout Rhode Island. We are also exploring the possibility of expanded hours during the renovation.

PPL has engaged BOND, one of the Northeast’s leading building, civil, utility and energy construction firms, as construction manager. The project architect is designLAB of Boston, the same firm that served as the architect for PPL’s 1900 building renovation completed in January 2013.

“We are excited about our work and contribution to the City of Providence and the State of Rhode Island as construction manager for the PPL,” said Dan Ramos, Regional Manager, BOND’s Providence Office. “BOND is proud to work with the PPL stakeholders on this transformative civic project.”

“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 Elorza. “The renovation and planned improvements to Providence Public Library will enable it to better serve the 21st century needs of all of our residents.”

PPL is an independent, non-profit organization founded in 1875, governed by a Board of Trustees, and supported primarily through private funding sources, including its own PPL Foundation. PPL provides services and resources to more than 152,000 visitors annually. The Library also serves as the Statewide Reference Resource Center holding unique collections and resources.

PPL’s Mission and Vision

PPL engages learners, inspires thinkers and connects diverse communities.

PPL is a library re-imagined. Our library is a place where tradition and innovation intersect — serving as an open and collaborative center of teaching and learning where communities can connect, experience, create and achieve. Approachable and inclusive, PPL is committed to making a meaningful difference in the lives of Rhode Islanders and everyone we serve.