Collections at Home

Even though the Library is closed, PPL still has many ways for you to explore Special Collections! From archiving Rhode Island's response to the coronavirus pandemic, to digging deep into the logbooks in the Nicholson Whaling Collection, to updating the backgrounds for your online meetings with downloadable sets of curated images, there are many ways to enjoy PPL's Special Collections from home.

A partnership between Providence Public Library and Rhode Island Historical Society, the Rhode Island COVID-19 Archive project encourages all Rhode Islanders to document their experience during this historic moment and to contribute those items to this public archive.

Now is the perfect time to settle in and read a hand-written nautical logbook. We've made 750 of them available online, and if you'd like to share your transcription we'll add it to our database. Here's a guide to how you can help.

The next best thing to being here in-person. Until we're able to welcome you back in-person we'll help you browse the stacks, work with collections, or just see some fun collection materials.

Keep up-to-date with the expanded databases, reference services, programming, and more that the library is doing to make as much available to you safely from home.

ProvLibDigital, PPL's online collections showcase, is home to over 20,000 images, and we’re adding more every day.

Special Collections Backgrounds for Online Meetings

Eight packs of images to serve as your background in video calls are downloadable as compressed folders, and include 10 to 15 images, complete with citations.

Travel Book. The Eddie Poferl Tattoo Collection.
Assorted Backgrounds 1

A fun selection of images from our Special Collections, including animals, maps, and even naughty children (to substitute for your own naughty children during video calls).

L. Prang and Co. Prang's Standard Alphabets (Boston: L. Prang, 1878)
Assorted Backgrounds 2

Maps, rats, automatons, chatty whales, and more to keep you company during your online meetings.

Plon, Eugène. La civilité puérile et honnête expliquée (Paris: E. Plon, 1887)
Children's Books

Illustrations from our Edith Wetmore Collection of Children's Books and other historic children's books. Wacky animals, dangerous chemistry, and an old-timey fair!

Library Scenes

Interior scenes from the newly-renovated Providence Public Library. Have your meeting "in the library" while in the comfort of your own home!

Séguy, E. A. Insectes (Paris: Duchartre et Van Buggenhoudt, 1920-1929?)
Pochoir Patterns

Colorful 20th-century patterns from our Nickerson Art and Architecture Collection, many of which were created using the pochoir stenciling technique.

Mackellar, Smiths and Jordan. Printing Types, Borders, Ornaments, and All Things Needful for Newspaper and Job Printing Offices. (Philadelphia: MacKellar, Smiths & Jordan, 1878).
Type Specimens

Kooky old-fashioned "clip art" from 19th and 20th century type specimens in our Updike Collection on the History of Printing.

Scarbourgh Beach, RI Postcard Collection, 1965
Views of Rhode Island

Miss being out and about in Rhode Island? Try some of these historic Rhode Island backgrounds from PPL's Rhode Island Collections.

Portrait of David Richter, from the Collection of Portraits of Printers & Booksellers
Wigs and Ears

If you position yourself just right, you can "try on" these wigs and ears to keep yourself (or your co-workers or classmates) entertained during video calls.