PPL Enlightenment Award

The Library'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 not only of knowledge itself, but of the sharing of that knowledge. The award embodies the belief that knowledge must light our way.

HISTORY (Inaugural Enlightenment Awards)

On the memorable evening of April 12, 2013, we welcomed supporters and friends to A Night to Shine – when we formally revealed our beautifully restored 1900 building. This event benefited the Library’s free cultural and educational programs for all Rhode Islanders and also provided the perfect opportunity to share our unique and exquisite spaces and celebrate the beginning of a new chapter in the Library's history. During this special occasion, we honored two exceptional and long-time PPL benefactors – Martha P. Sherman and The Providence Journal and Howard Sutton – with the presentation of our inaugural Enlightenment Awards.



Martha P. Sherman

Martha P. Sherman, Trustee Emerita, was honored for her unparalleled legacy of library service – a legacy which included decades of advocacy and extremely generous personal financial support. Mrs. Sherman had a long history of working for the betterment of libraries throughout Rhode Island throughout the country, and, in particular, had a deep love for and loyalty to Providence Public Library. Throughout her life, Mrs. Sherman exhibited an unwavering vision and inspiration, dedicating herself to strengthening the Library’s role as an intellectual forum and educational and cultural center in the community. Mrs. Sherman passed in April 2020.

The Providence Journal ~ Howard Sutton

The Providence Journal and Publisher Howard Sutton were honored for carrying on what has become a tradition of partnership and support -- dating back to the Library’s founding -- between the Journal and PPL to promote a literate, educated community. It was particularly fitting that we honor The Providence Journal and Mr. Sutton upon a generous financial commitment to the Library’s Opening Doors Capital Campaign which designated the room that showcases the PPL's Rhode Island Collection as the Providence Journal Rhode Island Room.


Rosalyn Sinclair

Rosalyn Sinclair has been a passionate and generous supporter of many arts, humanities, health and human service organizations in our state and PPL is extremely proud to be among her chosen beneficiaries. Mrs. Sinclair's recent $1 million leadership gift to our Think Again campaign was key to ensuring the ultimate success of our transformational renovation and solidifies her place as one of PPL's greatest benefactors. A major supporter of our library for decades, Mrs. Sinclair has funded PPL consistently as a Conservator Society member and, in recent years, has greatly increased her annual giving to ensure that PPL is able to enhance its impact through critical community and educational offerings.


Senator Jack Reed

Senator Reed’s decades-long work to ensure equitable access to information and education for all has extended beyond libraries and classrooms with his most recent leadership in the fight for net neutrality. We are extremely grateful to Senator Reed for all he has done over many years to make a difference for PPL, our state’s, and our nation's libraries, and we celebrated his achievements and passionate dedication to PPL's mission and work as our 2019 Enlightenment Award honoree.


Maureen McDonald

Maureen McDonald has been an unwavering advocate and dedicated supporter of PPL and its vital role in the community. Through her extraordinary work in support of the Library’s development activities for many years, including the creation and cultivation of the PPL Conservator Society, she has played a critical role in ensuring PPL’s future.


Mary B. Olenn

As an esteemed member of PPL's family for nearly 50 years, Mary Olenn's contributions to and critical role in ensuring the Library's future are unmatched. Her love affair with PPL, one grounded in a firm belief in public libraries as central hubs of education and essential to a community’s well-being, began in 1981 as a founder of the Mount Pleasant Friends. For decades, she committed herself to the mission of PPL, becoming the first woman to chair the Library's Board of Trustees. Her passion for the Library and fierce dedication to its mission are truly unsurpassed!


Robert K. Taylor

For his tireless dedication, inspired leadership, and singular vision over 20 years, we recognize and honor Rob Taylor for his critical role in making PPL’s future a reality. Rob helped to lead PPL through its intensive transition from Rhode Island’s largest library system – with 10 citywide locations – to the cutting-edge education hub that the Library is today.  He adeptly guided PPL and its community through multiple foundation-laying strategic planning processes, each building off 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.

Providence Public Library Seal