Logo 5
In This Issue
Going Mobile
Best Practices
Five Writers Writing
...and it was strange
News from the Field
Better Know a Library

The Rhode Island Library Association is a professional association of Librarians, Library Staff, Trustees, and library supporters whose purpose is to promote the profession of librarianship and to improve the visibility, accessibility, responsiveness and effectiveness of library and information services throughout Rhode Island.
Contact us at:
PO Box 6765
Providence, Rhode Island 02940
or rilibraries.org
Call For Writers!

The RILA Bulletin is always looking to increase its pool of writers.  If you want to help your colleagues stay informed--
let us know! 

Writing for The Bulletin is not a major time commitment and it's a great way to promote your library and share ideas.  Plus, it's fun--promise.

Interested parties please drop us a line at [email protected]


The RILA Bulletin recently conducted its first ever readers' survey, and the editors and writers would like to sincerely thank everyone who took the time to give feedback.  We took all suggestions to heart, and you will see some changes coming soon.

If anyone was unaware of the survey, or unable to add his or her two cents, we've re-opened the survey just for you.  You can access it here, but the link will only be up for one week. Act now!

One trend in the survey results that we've analyzed so far is that the News From the Field section is overwhelmingly the readers' favorite.  What that means, is that we need to hear more from the librarians of Rhode Island.  We want to promote your accomplishments, but you need to tell us what you're doing!  Please keep your colleagues in mind when you have a promotion, new hire, retirement, successful program--anything really, and send the info to [email protected]  This small state is full of talented and dedicated individuals who deserve all the credit they can get.

Thanks for reading

Andria Tieman & Corrie MacDonald
Going Mobile:
Libraries, Mobile Websites, and Digital Users

By Kieran Ayton

Reference Librarian
Cranston Public Library & Rhode Island College
The Cranston Public library recently unveiled its mobile website.  The mobile website works with iphones, the Google Android, and Blackberries.  It was created by Information Access Librarian Ed Garcia using basic HTML code and a free mobile website generator to create the website shell.  The best part was that it was totally free! 

It took about 12 hours of time to create the new site.  After Ed created the template for the mobile website, he added HTML code to input the content of the website.  The mobile version of the Cranston library website includes hours, locations and contact information, a mobile version of the EventKeeper calendar, a link to the full size version of the catalog (as there is no mobile version yet available) and research help featuring the mobile version of the EBSCO databases.  Warwick Public Library also has a mobile version of its website, which includes everything on the library home page and links to the catalog and the HELIN Catalog has two separate versions--one more graphics heavy than the other.

Creating a mobile website for your library may seem like a nice idea-- something you might do someday when you have the time--but take this into consideration: according the the Pew Internet: Mobile Access 2010 study, 59% of U.S. adults are wireless internet users (2).  That is nearly one out of every six Americans.  Chances are that you, the reader of this article, are one them!  You can certainly count on the fact that a good portion of your library users make up this group. 

Many times in public libraries, the patrons that ask for help are those that have limited technology skills and we forget that we have hundreds (if not thousands)  of unseen users who are accessing the library using wireless access (from their home, their workplace, or when they are out and about).  They request books and DVDs online, use our free Ezone website to download audiobooks and eBooks, and utilize our research databases.

Today, wireless internet use applies to mobile phones, not just laptops.  The 2010 Pew Internet study defines wireless access as going online using either a laptop or cell phone or both.  20% of wireless users access the Internet solely through a cell phone and 47% (almost half!) of wireless users access the Internet using both a cell phone and a laptop (10).  Minority populations, such as African-Americans and Latinos, have even higher rates of "cell-only" wireless use (10). 

The future of libraries lies in our ability to meet our users at their point of access.  Increasingly, this is no longer in person - instead through virtual means using wireless technologies.  Creating a mobile website for your library, and then effectively promoting it, can be a good first step to connecting today, to the library users of tomorrow.
The Heartbreaking, Staggering Genius
Work of 826

By Bri Johnson
YA Librarian, Barrington Public Library
I love the public library. I've worked in public libraries for ten years. I believe in our mission and I'm passionate about our work. However, I am discouraged with our model for young adult services. I wonder if it's the best we can do.

What we have now: If you're lucky, your library has a marginal area set aside for teens, furnished with a handful of tables and chairs, a few computers and a collection of books. If you're really lucky, you'll find a librarian there. Sometimes there's also a website.

This is actually impressive, given our limited resources. When it comes to reaching teens, the library can't hold a candle to the commercial sector, but we're clever and we're earnest, and that certainly counts. My library, in fact, is fortunate to offer a relatively large space for young adults, with a beautiful reference desk, unique lighting and furniture, a significant collection of books and a motley assortment of intriguing things, including a small, fake donkey. It is an inviting, active, and well-loved space.

That might be enough. Sometimes I wonder if my discouragement is unwarranted. But most days I feel like there's still something missing.

Consider the Echo Park Time Travel Mart in Los Angeles, California.  The Time Travel Mart is one chapter of 826 National, a nonprofit literacy project founded by author and literary entrepreneur Dave Eggers. The Echo Park Time Travel Mart is like a 7-Eleven for time travelers. It sells fascinating past and future imports, including Viking odorant (for Vikings who care how they smell), Chubble (the most popular product of the future), lost languages (currently sold-out of Latin), togas (all-purpose, good for both Greeks and Romans), and canned mammoth meat. But the most fascinating thing about this store is what happens in the back. Peek inside the "Specialties Refrigerator," and you'll see a large, secret room filled with kids. This is called the Writing Lab. It looks an awful lot like a library.

How it works: Kids ages 6-18 visit the Writing Lab after school. They've been lured in my the whimsical design of the Time Travel Mart, and promotion done within their schools.  On arrival, volunteers from the community provide one-on-one homework help. Then the kids read for awhile. When they finish reading, they write stories and poetry until it's time to go home. Again, it looks an awful lot like a library.

But it's not a library. Eggers has long been dedicated to supporting teachers and youth through tutoring and writing. I've studied his 826 project. I've watched the TED Talk on how it all began, I've read their publications, I've scrutinized volunteer framework, I've seen their business model, and I've stolen their workshop ideas. Last year, my library even purchased the same bookbinder used in the 826 Writing Lab to publish student work. 

This is what I think is missing at the public library: one-on-one attention after school and teacher input. According to Eggers, 826 Valencia in San Francisco has a roster of 1400 active volunteers. He also hired an admired long-time San Francisco educator to serve as a liaison with the schools. In my opinion, that was the wisest move he made after 826 was born. "It needn't be beaurocratically untenable," Eggers says. No, but it very often is.

It's easy to envy Eggers' success, but it's hard not to be impressed. He found a way into the schools, he asked teachers how he could support them, and he listened to their answers. He also appreciates the research and designed 826 "based on the understanding that great leaps in learning can happen with one-on-one attention." One librarian can't offer one-on-one attention every day to every kid in town. Nor can one teacher in the classroom. Yet we know kids thrive academically when they have that. We can't all be Dave Eggers, but we can be advocates for students. That is our primary role as youth service librarians. We can and should ask our community to creatively engage with students and schools. 

For more inspiration:
Word Street
Youth Speaks
Studio St. Louis
Austin Bat Cave
Fighting Words

826 Links:
TED TALK (video)
826 National
826 Valencia
826 LA
Time Travel Mart (video)

Best Practices: eReader Experiment
By Jenifer Bond
Assistant Director
Douglas and Judith Krupp Library, Bryant University
Ever consider loaning eReaders?  Prices are coming down, patron awareness is on the rise, and libraries are looking for innovative ways to attract lifelong users, so now is the time to try something new.  Why not eReaders? 
The Douglas & Judith Krupp Library at Bryant University introduced Kindle loans to the campus community in September 2009.  We have five Kindles, all with a one-week checkout and one-week renewal period.  They are available on a first come, first serve basis in order to keep them moving along quickly.  This translates well at our institution, but larger populations might require different parameters.  Continuous assessment has been the key to our success, and we have tweaked our policies along the way to improve the effectiveness of the loan program.

How does it work? The Kindles are registered to the Krupp Library's Amazon account, so we can purchase, download, and manage all Kindle content.  With the click of a menu option on the device itself, we deregister the Kindles upon check out so patrons will not be able to make purchases using the library's Amazon account, but they will still have full access to all library loaded content.  Patrons also have the option of registering the library's Kindles to their own Amazon accounts to make personal purchases. 
There are occasional but easily rectified glitches, such as titles accidently disappearing from a Kindle, but all purchased items are associated with the library's Amazon account, so they are stored and retrievable any time.  It's simple to manage once the workflow is established and there is a definite payoff for the effort.  We are offering a library service that keeps pace with the changing habits of some readers and many e-reader fans rave about the Kindle's ease of access and portability.

Consider these words of advice for a fun and successful loan program of your very own.  
  • Keep it simple:  Don't place too many complicated restrictions or rules on the loan program.  A lot of time and energy is devoted to chasing problems and "enforcing" rules.  Instead, be flexible and experiment with what works for your patrons.
  • Bang for the buck: Our Kindles are all created equal with uniform content to maximize our budget and streamline lending.  Many eReaders have user agreements that might allow titles to be shared across a set number of devices.  This also creates a seamless loan program for our patrons so no one is waiting for the one Kindle with bestseller titles or business books. 
  • Something for everyone: We have mix of leisure reading and course supported titles loaded on the Kindles, and we have converted several bibliophiles who thought they would never enjoy reading on a screen. We have a small budget for "on demand" purchasing when interlibrary loan just won't do.  We pre-order new Kindle titles so we get them the minute they release for instant gratification.
  • Solicit feedback:  Let patrons use the device as a tool for their own purposes and ask for their input.  Policies will evolve as you develop workflows and receive user feedback.  We created a patron survey so folks could rate their Kindle experiences and suggest titles for purchase. 
  • Cash in: We take advantage of the curiosity factor by luring new folks into the library to see our eReaders, and then promoted other library services as well.  We've made friends with several new faces along the way.
  • Spread the word:  We launched a campus-wide marketing campaign, including hands-on petting zoos, to promote the Kindles.  It just takes a few seconds to post a Facebook or Twitter hook.  The Kindles have also been featured on our blog and in the library newsletter.  Create a buzz!  
  • It starts with the staff: Provide staff training so everyone is comfortable with eReaders.  This is especially important for frontline workers who will field questions about e-reader functionality.  Library staff make great salespeople, so they should have an opportunity to become familiar with the devices before they are expected to help patrons.
We're no experts - yet. We're still chartering new territory with our eReaders, and will continue the experiment with additional eReaders and iPads soon.  Please feel free to contact us with any questions. 
Happy lending!  
Five Writers Writing
By Lexi Henshel
Co-ordinator of Readers' Services, North Kingstown Free Library
The rule goes that you should write what you know, and these five authors take that idea and run with it.  Often books about writers writing come off as easy or cliche, but these deliver in a big way.

American Subversive
by David Goodwillie 
This intense topical novel sees a professional blogger get caught up in an intense exploration of what patriotism means in a post 9-11 America. After a terrorist bombing at Barneys, Aidan Cole, a NYC based writer, who works for a thinly-veiled Nick Denton of Gawker media fame, receives an anonymous email with a photo of a beautiful girl, claiming that the girl, Paige Roderick, is responsible for the attack. Aidan's search for the truth leads him away from celebrity gossip, and into an impassioned quest, and Goodwillie's writing is sharp, biting, and powerful.
The Serialist by David Gordon
Harry Bloch, struggling genre writer with a batch of pseudonyms, who uses author photographs of friends and relatives, is offered the deal of his dreams- and nightmares. Notorious serial killer Darian Clay offers Harry the exclusive chance to write his death row memoirs, in exchange for Harry meeting and writing short porn stories about the women who write love letters to Darian. This fantastic setup just gets better and tighter towards the end, with some pretty electric writing along the way. The interspersed chapters of some of Harry's genre works added a lot, too- hilarious and precise skewering of some of the worst of 'genre' fiction.
Thieves of Manhattan by Adam Langer
Ian Minot, struggling writer and barista, is working on his growing pile of rejection letters, even as his beautiful and heavily accented Romanian girlfriend is rising fast on Manhattan's literary scene. A Confident Man enters the scene, and in a dazzling take-off of noir pulp, Ian is on his way into some of the most convoluted and literary troubles possible.  Fakes, memoirs, fake memoirs, and fake people are the key characters and plot devices here, but if I had to pick one favorite trick of the book, it would be the use of some terms which, to a reader, felt like they were the only possible way to describe things or people.

For example:
"Like the writers at any book party, the artists were easiest to find, self-consciously dressing down - ripped kowalskis and torn Levi's - or dressing up, in gatsbys and ascots, all ironic."
Franzens are styling eyeglasses, fitzgeralds are drinks, a golightly is the LBD the publicist girls wear, a humbert is a lonely perv... a scherherezade is a cliffhanger.
This was an astonishly good, tricky, literary book. Incredible narrative tricks, plot inversions like a mobious strip, and some of the cleverest turns of phrase I've read in a long time made this an absolutely delicious, delightful, deceptively light serious book about fiction and publishing today.
After The Workshop by John McNally
Fantastic, funny and wonderful novel. Jack Sheahan attended the Iowa Writer's Workshop, had a story published in The New Yorker, anthologized in Best American Short Stories- and then nothing, for years. Now he works as a media escort for author tours, airport-fetching visiting writers (achingly perfect New York hipsters, emotionally unstable trauma-memoir types, etc) and over the course of a few blizzardy days, his life spins out of control and towards redemption. This might be the ultimate book about writers' block- and it was riotously funny, while carrying genuine strength of feeling. McNally should be better known- his America's Report Card (2006) is another slickly written look at frustration.
Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart
In this it-could-happen-tomorrow meta-novel, Lenny Abramov falls, foolishly, in love with Eunice Park, and their correspondence with each other and with friends is the body of the novel (which, we find out early, is a best-seller, translated around the world).

The near-future setting is vivid and fully realized, with poles with blare one's credit ratings as you walk by a major feature of urban shopping districts, with an oppressive "Bipartisan" government that is half  Blackwater-style corporation, with onionskin see-through jeans that are all the rage, with a society that regards books as smelly artifacts. And in the middle of this, Lenny (whose job as a high-end salesman of endless life doesn't disturb him), manages to fall hopelessly in love with young Eunice, who majored in college in Images and Confidence, and managed not to graduate...
Wonderful, devastating, magical- one of the best books of the year.
And it was strange...
baconWe asked RILA members what the strangest thing they've found in a library bookdrop.  As you can expect, the answers were odd, gross and baffling.

  • Most common answer, sadly, was condoms.  There were condoms in the OED, condoms in circulating fiction and condoms in 18th century research materials.  Is nothing sacred?
  • Both bacon and banana peels apparently make great bookmarks.  In the case of the bacon, the patron could not understand why he was billed for the item as "It was just a bookmark."  The banana peel book was reshelved at the library and sat...for a long time.
  • Someone accidentally discarded a headless Barbie doll, but they remembered later that week and picked it up.  Same goes for a pair of panties left in a book, but thankfully, that patron was right there to take those back.
  • An unfortunate circulation worker found a dead fish.
  • Two truly unfortunate library staff found a hornets' nest.  One got stung, and the other fell down trying to run away--and they say library workers just sit around reading all day.
  • Mail, garbage and unused (thankfully) mini-pad have all made their way into library bookdrops.

Thankfully, sometimes patrons leave us good stuff:
"Back in the card catalogue days, an artist in our user community used one of our empty media boxes to create an art piece for which he then created appropriate labels and even filed a typed card into the catalog before shelving the piece in the collection.   The colleague and I who found it on the shelf were absolutely captivated with his little piece and contacted him.  He was thrilled that we were pleased with his 'stealth art.'  What an almost miraculous little occurrence!"

A library in Burlington, MA has started saving items left in books (the non-food, non-health hazard items) and has created a wall collage where people can find what they've lost, and admire others' treasures. "To us, some bookmark (someone's) child gave them has no monetary value but it's sentimental," said Cara Thissell, the circulation librarian.  She had the idea to put up the board a few years ago, as an alternative to throwing out the sentimental items."

Question for next time:
What is the strangest patron request you've received?
send responses to [email protected]
News From the Field
The Coventry Public Library and Town of Coventry are pleased to announce a new relationship with the Greene Library Association which will bring new and expanded library service to the Greene Public Library.  New services will include membership in Ocean State Libraries, statewide delivery, improved technology, and expanded hours.

Beginning September 7th, Greene Library will be open 20 hours a week:
Tuesday and Thursday from 3pm - to 7pm;
Wednesday, Friday and Saturday 9am - 1pm
This is also the timeframe for Greene to begin access to Ocean State Libraries and the statewide delivery system.  The new branch librarian is Charlotte Bosclair and the library assistant is Gail Slezak.

Bryant University received a research grant of $534,000 from the National Science Foundation.  The grant will support the Universityıs research on the effect of climate change on marine life in Narragansett Bay. It is the largest award for sponsored research ever received by Bryant.

Dan McNally, associate professor of environmental science and project director for the grant, agreed. "The grant is huge for Bryant," he said. "It enables us to add key pieces of highly-specialized analytical equipment that are necessary for ongoing faculty research. In addition, our environmental science and biology majors, who undertake two years of fieldwork and laboratory research to graduate, will have access to the same kind of equipment they will use in graduate programs and throughout their careers."

Johnson & Wales University received two honors from American College and Research Libraries: Ariela McCaffrey, reference & instruction librarian, has been accepted for enrollment in the ACRL Institute for Information Literacy Annual Immersion Program taking place in November in Nashville, TN.
ACRL accepted a contributed research paper by JWU Dean of Libraries, Rosita Hopper.  She will present the paper at the 2011 ACRL National Conference in March.

The Warwick Public Library has spent the summer renovating the front area of the main branch at 600 Sandy Lane.  The circulation desk was replaced with self-check machines, and popular materials and 7-day books were moved front and center--San Jose style. They've put in stylish new carpet, new lighting and extra seating in the magazine room. There's an easel in the front hallway explaining even more changes to come.  Stop by and check it out!

Continuing Education
Professional Development from OLIS Continuing Education
The Fall 2010 OLIS CE programs feature youth services, disaster recovery and over 500 online courses via WebJunction RI. More programs will be added throughout the month of September, so check back often for new listings. Find class descriptions and registration online at OLIS.

Simmons Graduate School of Library and Information Science is pleased to announce that  we are hosting the Trejo Foster Foundation Institute on November 5 and 6. The institute is a forum for library professionals and scholars to share experiences, issues and strategies in serving Hispanic/Latino populations. It will focus on two major themes: best library and outreach practices, and current issues, challenges affecting the provision of library services.

For more information and to register, please visit: http://gslis.simmons.edu/trejoinstitute2010. Please note there is a discounted fee for students of Simmons College, University of Rhode Island and Southern Connecticut State University.

Please register by October 22, 2010.

Finding the Right Information Literacy Fit for Your Institution:
It's All in the Design
A free program sponsored by NELIG and ACRL New England and featuring a presentation by URI's Head of Library Instruction, Mary McDonald.

Friday, October 15
Papitto Room in Bryant Center Building
Bryant University
1150 Douglas Pike
Smithfield, RI 02917

Registration: http://nelig.eventbrite.com/

Are you looking for funds to help pay for your trip to ALA Annual 2011 in New Orleans?
Apply by Tuesday, December 14, 2010 for the New Members Round Table Shirley Olofson Memorial Award and you may receive a $1000 check to help defray the cost of attendance!
Applicants must:
1. Be a member of ALA and NMRT
2. Be active in the library profession
3. Show promise for activity in the area of professional development
4. Have valid financial need
5. Have attended no more than five ALA annual conferences
Apply here

The Office of Library and Information Services is pleased to announce that Lauren Gage has joined the OLIS Staff as a Library Program Specialist. She will be working in the area of direct services to libraries, including the annual report, data and statistics, continuing education, and web development.  She joined the OLIS Staff on August 16.

Nancy Barta-Norton, acquisitions & cataloging librarian for Johnson & Wales University, has been elected recording secretary for the New England Technical Services Librarians section of the New England Library Association.

Andria Tieman started work in the Douglas and Judith Krupp Library at Bryant University.  She is thrilled to be the newest member of the reference staff and looks forward to learning as much as she can from her talented new co-workers. 

Cornucopia of Rhode Island's 5th anniversary celebration is September 25th.  The speaker is Mr. Keith W. Stokes, Executive Director of Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation. 
Please bring a covered dish and beverage--family and friends are welcome as well. 
September 25, 2010 - 12-3pm 
Tuddy Cottage
90 Racquet Road
Jamestown, Rhode Island
Please RSVP to Ida D. McGhee by September 17:  [email protected]

Use the Internet to Find a Job in Any Economy:
a How-to Seminar 

Discover how employers find candidates. Find out how job seekers find jobs. Learn about online job boards, e-resumes, keyword optimization and career agents. Featuring Steven R. Porter, Marketing Professional and Outreach Consultant--JobsinRI.com.
Registration required. Contact: Niles Madsen at Warwick Public Library  401-739-5440, x124  [email protected]

Monday September 27. 7-8pm
Warwick Public Library--Large Meeting Room
600 Sandy Lane
Warwick, RI 02889

RIEMA Dinner
Registration is open for the annual RIEMA dinner, which will be held on Thursday, October 14. Hors d'oeurves will be served starting at 5:30 pm with a buffet dinner starting at 6:15 pm.  This year's featured guest is Kazu Kibuishi, winner of the 2010 RI Children's Book Award.
The dinner is being held at Chelo's at 2225 Post Road in Warwick and costs $30.00 per person.  Registration is required and the form is available here.

The Rhode Island Center for the Book has set its schedule of events for fall 2010.  Featured authors include local favorite Ann Hood, David Dosa MD, author of Making the Rounds with Oscar, Marilyn Johnson, author of This Book is Overdue! How Librarians and Cybrarians can save us all and many more.  Full schedule is available at ribook.org

Several Rhode Island colleges and universities were recognized by US News and World Report for their outstanding educational facilities, student retention rate and value.  Bryant University, Johnson and Wales, Salve Regina, Providence College, Roger Williams and Rhode Island College all appeared on the list of best regional colleges.

Brown University and University of Rhode Island made the big list of Best Colleges and Universities for 2011 with Brown moving from last years' 16th place into 15th and URI showing at number 167.  Providence College placed 5th in a list of best value colleges and universities around the region, and was mentioned as an "A+ option for B students" for its policy of accepting students without off-the-charts tests scores and GPAs.  Bryant University also made the A+ list, and was also recently included in Princeton Review's 373 Best Colleges guide.

Rhode Island was awarded $75 million for education initiatives under the Race to the Top grant program.  "Race to the Top winners will help trail blaze effective reforms and provide examples for states and local school districts throughout the country to follow, as they too are hard at work on reforms that can transform our schools for decades to come," the Education Department said.  The state will use the money for education initiatives by the state and participating school districts.

Grant Opportunities
National Center for Family Literacy Library Grants
Deadline: November 12, 2010
Better World Books and the National Center for Family Literacy are teaming up again this year to provide Libraries and Families Award grants for libraries with exceptional family programming.

NCFL anticipates awarding three $10,000 grant awards, one in each of the following three categories: local friends of the library programs,
public/academic libraries, and urban libraries.
For complete details, visit: http://www.famlit.org/BWB-library-award

The RI Office of Library and Information Services (OLIS) is pleased to announce that it is accepting applications for Library of Rhode Island (LORI) Grants. OLIS offers LORI Grants with funds from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services, under the Grants to States Program supported by the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA).

The LORI Grant application provides comprehensive information about funding priorities, the application process, the grant schedule, and includes a glossary of terms used in the application. Questions about LORI Grants may be sent to Donna Longo DiMichele. LORI Grant applications are available in a link from the grant announcement on OLIS or by contacting Donna DiMichele.
Donna Longo DiMichele, M.A., M.S.L.S.
OLIS Program Manager/LSTA Coordinator
RI Office of Library and Information Services
One Capitol Hill, 4th fl.  Providence, RI 02908-5803
(401) 574-9303 / Fax (401) 574-9320

Usborne Books is still matching funds through their Literacy for a Lifetime program. Literacy for a Lifetime is a partnership that brings together Educational Development Corporation/Usborne Books with businesses and individuals to support schools and organizations.

It offers a 50% matching grant in books for every dollar contributed. For example, a $10,000 donation is matched with an additional $5,000 and the organization of your choice receives $15,000 in educational materials for their use.
For more information visit usbornebooksri.org, or email Hilary Garzarelli at [email protected]

Better Know a Library
Jesse M. Smith Memorial Library, Burrillville
By Aaron Coutu
YA Librarian, Greenville Public Library &
Sandra Mundy
Director, Jesse M. Smith Memorial Library
The Jesse M. Smith Memorial Library is one of two libraries, along with the Pascoag Public Library, serving the community of Burrillville.  The JMS Library had its beginnings in 1894 when Mary E. Smith of Harrisville, one of the town's mill villages, bequeathed a sum of money and a parcel of land at the corner of East Avenue and Main Street to the
Jesse M. Smith
Town of Burrillville to be held in trust until such time as a public library could be erected in memory of her late husband, Jesse M. Smith.
The funds were used by the Town to construct the Memorial Block, a three-story brick
Mary Smith
commercial building, which housed various businesses and recreational facilities, including a bowling alley, an assembly hall, town offices, and, in the southwest corner of the second floor, a library room.

This structure served the library needs of the community until 1933 when Austin T. Levy, local philanthropist and owner of the neighboring Stillwater Worsted Mill, undertook the Town Buildings Project. This project included construction of the Town Building (now called Town Hall), a new high school (now Callahan Elementary School), The Assembly Theatre, the Harrisville and Pascoag Post Offices and the razing of the Memorial Block to make way for a new Jesse M. Smith Memorial Library building. The building was completed in 1935.

Jesse Smith Library 1935
Use of the new library continued to grow, and in 1944, the library was enlarged with the addition of a Reading Room at the rear. By 1970 annual circulation stood at 6,695 and the collection consisted of 6,860 volumes. Ten years later, circulation had risen to 25,466, and the number of books stood at 13,506. In addition to books, the library was then offering large print materials, a variety of magazines, record albums, and jigsaw puzzles for children and adults. Additionally, the building boom of the mid-1980s brought a significant increase in population to the town, which in turn increased demand for library services, particularly children's programs and materials. To meet these needs, a professional children's librarian was added to the staff, and the library services were updated and expanded to include loans of audio and video cassettes as well as books on tape.

By 1990, the library was most limited by its size.  Circulation was basically capped at around 50,000 largely because there was not enough space to store additional items. The collection, which had grown to over 22,000 volumes, was jammed into every available nook and cranny.  The overcrowding and outdated mechanical systems were also limiting the possibilities for offering new services and technologies such as computers.

Since the town was unable to undertake the construction of a new library building, it became necessary to consider the options for expanding the building without destroying the historic character of the property. It was then that a small but determined group of people began working on the Library Renovation Project. Renovations included an unobtrusive addition and expansion of the Reading Room, and a complete basement renovation which increased the useful building space by seventy-five percent. The project was completed in May 1992.
The Library Renovation Project not only increased space, it improved lighting, electrical, and HVAC systems with the goal of providing ten years of "growing space" for the library. And by 2002, as anticipated, the natural growth in the library's collection and services saw the library building again bursting at the seams.

The added space was designed with the intent of providing at least ten years of growing space.  The library's collection had more than doubled in size between 1992 and 2004, and there was just no more space available. The children's collection had expanded into the Program Room. Shelves were overloaded, and vigorous "weeding" of older volumes had become an ongoing necessity, with many older books being either placed in storage or discarded.

Sadly, it had to be acknowledged that further expansion of the library building would be impossible. As part of the Historic District, it couldn't be altered further without damaging its character. Therefore, in order to continue providing the best in library services to the citizens of Burrillville, construction of a completely new library building became the only option. Starting in 1998, the town began planning for a new building. 

With the designation of designated the Stillwater Mill Redevelopment Zone (the former site of Austin T. Levy's mill complex), the library project really picked up speed. Suddenly, the idea of a building a new library
The library today
located on the Clear River overlooking the Stone Arch Bridge and Mill Pond Falls in Harrisville became a plausible and practical goal.

After a $5 million dollar bond issue past to support construction of the new 24,000 square foot facility, plans for the library were finalized and constructions progressed.  For a photo essay of the construction project, visit a blog constructed by the library staff and the project Clerk of the Works at http://newjmslibrary.blogspot.com/. The new library held its grand opening on April 27, 2008, though the library began serving the community almost a month earlier.

The Jesse M. Smith Memorial Library had its beginnings in 1894 with Mary Smith's bequest in honor of her husband, and it has continuously served the community ever since. It is no wonder that the slogan chosen by the Capital Campaign Committee was "Cornerstone of the Community."
The Jesse M. Smith Memorial Library provides the community with life-long learning, entertainment, public meeting space, and visual reminders of our town's industrial heritage. It has enriched the community and the lives of young and old alike for over one hundred years, and, we hope, it will continue to do so for many, many more years to come.

The RILA Bulletin is produced by the RILA Communications Committee.  The RILA Communications Committee is responsible for publicizing and supporting Rhode Island Library Association activities using a variety of communication tools. Responsibilities including publishing the RILA Bulletin, managing social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, and exploring other mediums as needed. The Communications Committee may cooperate with the publicity efforts of the Public Relations Committee to promote library services statewide.

Rhode Island Library Association members can contribute content to the RILA Bulletin by emailing the editors: [email protected]
Corrie MacDonald & Andria Tieman
RI Library Association