• Friday, June 02, 2023 10:22 AM | RILA Communications (Administrator)

    The Rhode Island Library Association (RILA) presented its yearly awards at its Annual Conference, which was held May 24 and 25 at the Providence Public Library. The theme for the conference was “Keep Calm and Read On.”

    "This year’s award recipients are truly deserving of this honor,” said RILA President Beatrice Pulliam. “We were so fortunate to have each of our honorees present at our awards reception and be able to celebrate their achievements in front of their friends and family."

    The 2023 RILA Award winners are:

    Library Champion Award: Senator Hanna Gallo, District 27, Cranston and West Warwick.

    Senator Gallo is one of the most active supporters of libraries in the General Assembly. She has been an important ally as RILA advocated for full funding of state grant-in-aid to Rhode Island’s public libraries. Her advocacy was instrumental in state aid increases including $900,000 in 2017, $200,000 in 2019 and finally achieving full funding with an additional $1.5 million in 2022.
    For the past eleven years she has supported her local Cranston Public Library with legislative grants that have been used to support youth services programs across the CPL system.

    “Senator Hanna Gallo has been a true friend and champion to our libraries and we look forward to working with her for years to come,” said Ed Garcia, director of the Cranston Public Library.

    Outstanding Librarian Award: Chaichin Chen, Resource Sharing Coordinator, Office of Library and Information Services.

    Chen retired from the Office of Library and Information Services in 2022 after 25 years of serving the state. She served as Resource Sharing and Network Services Coordinator.  Chen’s long commitment to resource sharing culminated in the development of the regional Sharing Visions summit that began in 2020 and brought together state library agency staff and librarians from across New England. Her unfailingly pleasant demeanor and extensive knowledge made technical innovations that much easier for library staff.

    “Chaichin leaves big shoes to fill at the Office of Library and Information Services, and will be much missed here and in the library community,” said Karen Mellor, Chief of Library Services for the state of Rhode Island.  

    Outstanding Library Paraprofessional Award: Maria Melvin, Human Resources Coordinator, Community Libraries of Providence.

    Melvin operates a complex human resources department single-handedly, handling benefits, payroll, and maintaining accurate files for all staff. As the Human Resources Manager, Melvin is an integral part of the union negotiating committee, prepares job descriptions, participates in every interview, and onboards all new staff. When staff are out on medical or other leaves, Melvin is sure to send flowers and cards on behalf of the library.  

    “Despite her deep well of responsibilities, she also finds time to uplift the staff and to bring joy, and tons of fun, to every gathering.  She loves the Community Libraries of Providence and is dedicated to the mission of the library. She is always willing to do the work to make change possible,” said Cheryl Space, director of the Community Libraries of Providence.

    Meritorious Friend of the Library Award: Josephine Sassi, Friends of the West Warwick Public Library.

    Sassi has been a tireless and dedicated supporter of the West Warwick Public Library for well over a decade. She currently supervises a group of volunteers who stock and run the “Book Nook”, the library store through which the Friends raise funds for library programming and services. She is responsible for the Friends’ gift basket raffles, which happen twice a year. The displays are so professionally done and elaborate that they draw people into the library who might not otherwise visit, and raise substantial and much-needed funds for the library.

    “Her multiple contributions to the life of the West Warwick library are made in a manner that is utterly dependable but also utterly unassuming. Without her presence, the library would be a poorer place – literally as well as figuratively,” said Colin McCullough, director of the West Warwick Public Library.  

    Trustee of the Year Award: Ken Findlay, Board of Trustees, Exeter Public Library.

    Findlay has worked tirelessly to improve the library’s standing and base of support. His experience as Assistant to the Town Council has been invaluable in guiding the library’s many projects and initiatives, from launching a new website to major building repairs. In addition, as Interdepartmental Project Manager/Institutional Programs and Services for the RI Department of Corrections, Ken serves on the State Library Board representing the interests of incarcerated persons. He exemplifies in every way the qualities that RILA has identified in a Trustee of the Year.

    “As a result of Ken’s leadership, the library’s standing towards the community has comprehensively improved. Ken has expertly and patiently shepherded numerous items through the necessary processes to ensure their success,” said Tien Tran, director of the Exeter Public Library.  

    The Rhode Island Library Association is a professional organization that serves its members through career development, education, advocacy, networking partnerships, and legislative action. The core vision of RILA is to inspire and promote excellence in library services, through training, innovation, and advocacy.

  • Wednesday, April 12, 2023 1:39 PM | RILA Communications (Administrator)

    It is with great sadness that Providence Public Library (PPL) recognizes the passing of longtime Library Director Dale Thompson. She died in California surrounded by family on Saturday, March 25th, at the age of 79. Read full obituary.

    Thompson retired from PPL in January 2014 after nearly 34 years with the Library – 25 as director. During her tenure, PPL achieved numerous successes and was continually recognized as a leading library, most notably becoming only the second urban library to receive the IMLS National Award for Library Service in 2001. Under Thompson’s direction, the Library implemented a variety of innovative community services and programs for youth, adults, and families, a number of which became national models and continue to evolve.

    Rhode Island’s and Providence’s high rates of illiteracy were a primary concern for Thompson, who oversaw the creation of PPL’s Family Literacy program. This program was so successful that in 1998, it became the model for the Rhode Island Family Literacy Initiative (RIFLI), a statewide, interlibrary effort to provide literacy instruction to whole families. This vital, free, first-step program with no baseline requirements for admission has grown and continues today, celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.

    In addition, under Thompson’s leadership, PPL thrived in its statewide role, spearheading technology initiatives such as the development of the Cooperating Libraries Automated Network (CLAN), now Ocean State Libraries, and serving as the state-designated Reference Resource Center (now AskRI), which also continues today.

    As director of Rhode Island’s largest library system, Thompson embraced her role as a key contributor among the state’s library leadership. She served on several boards and committees and was a resolute advocate for funding and policies to enhance library services statewide. In 1998, she helped lead a successful campaign in the state General Assembly to enact a 25 percent municipal grant-in-aid funding program for public libraries and in 2003 again successfully lobbied the General Assembly to extend the 25 percent to endowment funds. In 2003, she initiated the current RI State Library Commission. Her service was not limited to Rhode Island. She served as Director-in-Residence, model library director, for the Urban Library Council.

    During a time when urban libraries were called upon to assume more integral roles in their communities, Thompson worked tirelessly to increase the number of PPL employees, as well as its hours of operation, collections, and technological and fiscal resources. We honor her commitment to PPL and to libraries nationwide, and we are grateful for her legacy.

  • Friday, March 31, 2023 1:24 PM | Anonymous

    Book Sale: Saturday, April 22, 2023 from 10 am to 2 pm

    Come fill the missing pieces you need for your genealogical reference section or for your own personal research. These books include genealogies, histories, cemetery books and more covering Rhode Island, New England and some other areas of the country.

    The sale is open to librarians, RIGS members and the general public. All proceeds support education and programming services offered by Rhode Island Genealogical Society.

    More info about the Book Sale

  • Monday, March 27, 2023 6:41 PM | Anonymous

    The Graduate School of Library and Information Studies is pleased to announce the winners of this year’s awards for Library of the Year and Alumni of the Year. The Library of the Year for 2023 is West Warwick Public Library in West Warwick, Rhode Island. Each year, GSLIS honors two alumni: one who graduated 10 or more years ago and another recent alumnus who graduated within the last 5-10 years. Our Alumna of the Year for 2023 is Maria Cotto and our Recent Alumna of the Year for 2023 is Tayla Cardillo. These awards will be presented at the GSLIS Annual Gathering, to be held May 12, 2023 at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Warwick, RI where we are celebrating our 60th Anniversary Jubilee. The Annual Gathering is an evening of professional camaraderie and celebration that will celebrate these award winners, along with our graduates, alumni, current students, and larger community.

    West Warwick Public Library is being recognized for their contributions to public library service, patron access, accessibility of library materials and services, and efforts towards equity in library work and library services. The West Warwick Public Library was a finalist for the National Medal for Museum and Library Services in 2021 and 2022 (given by the Institute of Museum and Library Services). West Warwick Public Library Director Colin McCullough told the Cranston Herald in 2021, “Our patrons’ needs might be informational, educational or – given the last twelve months – simply fun and entertainment, but each request is met with the same care and consideration by a dedicated staff. This recognition on the part of IMLS is a well-deserved tribute to their creativity, commitment to inclusivity, and sense of community.” In 2022, the West Warwick Public Library went fine free, even erasing the debt of long overdue books. Head of Circulation Caitlin Mendoza told ABC 6 News that this was part of an effort “to bring our residents back to the library.” The West Warwick Public Library also reaches out to their community on social media, creating videos on TikTok and YouTube about hidden gems in the library, the library’s pet gecko, and library programs and services, posting about programs and services on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. GSLIS selected West Warwick Public Library as Library of the Year for 2023 because of their commitment to serving their diverse community with excellence, compassion, and friendliness.

    After graduating from URI GSLIS in 2008, Maria Cotto worked as a Youth Services Librarian in Pawtucket Public Library, Central Falls Free Public Library, and the Knight Memorial Library in the Providence Community Library. In 2013, Cotto returned to the Pawtucket Public Library as Bilingual Children’s Librarian. She spearheaded efforts to develop the Sensory Friendly Inclusive Group. According to the Rhode Island Office of Library and Information Services website, “The Sensory Friendly Inclusive Group seeks to empower librarians to better serve individuals of all ages and backgrounds who are neurodiverse or on the autism spectrum and their families by expanding programming, outreach, partnerships, and resources that welcome all abilities.” Among many other accomplishments, Cotto has also served as Chair of the Rhode Island Latino Book Awards since 2014. URI GSLIS is proud of Maria Cotto and all of her exemplary contributions to the field of public librarianship, equitable library services, and the Rhode Island library community.

    Tayla Cardillo graduated from GSLIS in 2019, only a few years ago. Since that time, she has worked as a Reference and Young Adult Services Librarian at the Coventry Public Library and now as the Branch Librarian at the Oak Lawn Branch of the Cranston Public Library. Cardillo hosts a podcast at the library, Down Time with Cranston Public Library, serves on the Rhode Island Teen Book Awards Committee, and as Co-Chair of the Intellectual Freedom Committee of the Rhode Island Library Association. Cardillo told the RILA Bulletin that “I think protecting people's intellectual freedom as well as their right to read and access information is one of the most important aspects of our jobs as library professionals.” URI GSLIS is proud of Tayla Cardillo and her commitment to intellectual freedom, youth services, and public librarianship in Rhode Island.

    GSLIS is proud of all our 2023 award winners and looks forward to celebrating with them on May 12 at our Annual Gathering.

  • Thursday, March 23, 2023 3:46 PM | Anonymous

    The Sensory Friendly Inclusive Group (formerly known as the RI Children’s Sensory Storytime Support Group) is looking for new members to join the committee. We are currently recruiting a secretary, co-chair and social media/blog webmaster. Join our team to learn how to connect with community agencies and other librarians whose mission it is to bring families together and create a sensory friendly environment that welcomes people of all abilities into our libraries.

    To learn more about each position, please email mcotto@pawtucketlibrary.org or call 401-725-3714 x209


  • Tuesday, March 07, 2023 3:26 PM | RILA Communications (Administrator)

    Have you ever visited the North Providence Union Free Library just to see the famous bust of Salvatore Mancini? The cavernous nature of the building paired with some spooky lore led the library to reach out to the experts to find some answers.

    This past September, the North Providence Union Free Library was filmed for 4 nights for the Discovery Plus/Travel Channel show "Kindred Spirits." For decades, staff at the library have experienced unexplainable phenomena, such as someone calling their name when they are working alone--especially upstairs in the Reference Department--the elevator going up to the second floor by itself, and the apparition of a tall man approaching the desk only to look up and no one is there. Staff and residents alike always joked that it is the ghost of former Mayor Salvatore Mancini, as the building bears his name, his likeness in an enclosed case, and his funeral was held in the library for 3 days after his passing in 1994. However, library staff wanted to get down to the bottom of why new unexplainable events were occurring, such as clocks flying off shelves and walls in the Administration Offices, among other items that at times projectile themselves with no logical reason. Surely, former Mayor Mancini would not have been as vested in the inner workings of the library, but perhaps a former employee or trustee would.

    Enter Amy Bruni and Adam Berry, two native Rhode Islanders, and stars of the show "Kindred Spirits." Amy and Adam ventured away from the traditional paranormal shows meant to instill fear and the scare factor to approach situations with a "care factor." With the help of archives and other tools, they research the history of locations to see what might be going on, and a library was the perfect spot, as we take care in curating our own history.

    To give credit where credit is due, they pinpointed at least one cause of unexplained activity in the RI History Room: former library Trustee Herbert Hopkins for whom the room is named. Mr. Hopkins searched for a new library location in the 1970s as their former building was becoming cramped, exchanging lots of correspondence with then Mayor Mancini. Mr. Hopkins unfortunately passed away in 1978 before he saw the former skating rink become the bigger library he so passionately lobbied for (though he didn't know the skating rink was a possibility). When the bust of Mayor Mancini was moved into the RI History Room (Herbert E. Hopkins History Room) in July of 2020, activity started to pick up even more than before.

    The library is grateful to "Kindred Spirits" for respecting the library's history and for confirming suspicions that Mr. Hopkins feels more attention should be given to himself. The staff continues to add pictures and memorabilia in the room to match or detract from the foreboding bust that might have stirred up some negative energy.

    Click here to read an article about the show's visit in the Valley Breeze.

  • Monday, February 27, 2023 9:27 AM | Anonymous

    P2PU Logo and RILA LogoPeer 2 Peer University (P2PU) and the Rhode Island Library Association (RILA) welcome library staff to build a learning community with fellow librarians across the state. P2PU is developing workshops on in-demand topics for Rhode Island library staff. Join any of the 60-minute workshops on our calendar about these advanced facilitation techniques:

    • June 8, 2023 - Safe Spaces: Balancing feeling safe with feeling challenged (Click here to RSVP)
    • June 15, 2023 - Self Advocacy: How to look out for yourself when running  a program (Click here to RSVP)
    Since 2016, P2PU has supported RILA in running learning circles. These free, peer-led study groups can increase patron engagement and retention in online courses, and they provide an accessible and supportive environment for learners. Providence Public Library initially worked with ESOL students to run citizenship prep learning circles where adults at various levels of readiness prepared for the citizenship exam process, practiced English, and built relationships with their peers. In 2021, P2PU worked with Amrita S. Patel and Denise LaForce, former colleagues at Charlotte Mecklenburg Library (CML), to develop course materials on How to Talk about Race. Facilitators across the country have adapted this learning circle to navigate these difficult and necessary conversations in their communities. (Read more about this project at their blog!)

    At the heart of the success of learning circles is the community of facilitators that make them happen. We’re grateful to the facilitators in the RILA library community who voiced their interest in these topics, and we look forward to continuing this work. Email us at thepeople@p2pu.org with any questions about how to join our peer learning community.

  • Saturday, February 04, 2023 1:50 PM | RILA Communications (Administrator)

    School library and public library collaborations are a fun way to bring two types of librarianship together within the community– and sometimes that community is a few cities over!

    As a way to open students' eyes to the wonderful world of nonfiction, Park View Middle School librarian Steph Mills and 8th grade ELA teacher Rhonda Marro talked to Barrington Middle School librarian Melanie Roy and Garden City librarian Meredith Moore about their previous work on creating Mock Sibert award lesson plans. Throughout their conversations, Steph learned that Maria Cotto, a Pawtucket children’s librarian, served on the Sibert committee from 2019-2021.

    In an effort to give students a first hand look at what it is like to serve on a national committee, Steph invited Maria to visit her classes to discuss the hard work and deliberations that go into choosing the winners and nominees. Maria talked about the criteria and the passion that librarians bring to the virtual meetings as well as the process for reading such a large quantity of books and eliminating titles in each round. This served as a basis for Steph and Rhonda to show them Melody Allen and Melissa Stewart’s modified mock Sibert approach in which students look at three criteria: delight, design, and documentation.

    Throughout the month of February, students will be reading at least eight nonfiction titles and debating the merits of each with classmates. Each class will each determine their winner and nominees. As a culminating activity, students will watch a recording of the Youth Media Awards to see if Park View’s final list matches what the 2023 Sibert committee picked!

  • Monday, January 30, 2023 1:54 PM | Anonymous

    The Rhode Island Library Association (RILA) applauds Governor Dan McKee’s introduction of his Fiscal 2024 state budget which includes $484,000 in additional funding for libraries. For only the second time since 2009, the state budget will fully fund state aid to libraries at the level outlined in RI General Law 29-6-2. Existing state law specifies that the state contribute to each city and town an amount equal to 25% of municipal expenditures and 25% of expenditures from a library’s private endowment that supplements that expenditure.

    This additional funding will positively impact public libraries in every city and town in Rhode Island. The budget also includes additional funding for AskRI, the Statewide Reference Resource Center, to fully support online learning, tutoring, and job upskilling support services for all Rhode Islanders.

    "The Rhode Island Library Association is excited to see the Governor’s visible support of Rhode Island libraries by fully funding state aid to libraries. This action continues to build community resources, and we are gratified to see this commitment,"" said RILA President Rachael Juskuv.

    RILA thanks Governor McKee for his support of libraries and his recognition of the role libraries play in supporting Rhode Islanders' need for access to information, technology, health and wellness resources, educational supports, and social connections. We thank the Governor for his strong leadership for including this funding in the budget.

    RILA also thanks Representative David Morales (D7, Providence) and Representative Jackie Baginski (D17, Cranston) for being strong library advocates and their efforts along with the 40- plus sponsors of House Bill 5095 for bringing much needed attention to this long-standing funding issue.

    "Public libraries are the heart of our communities and a public resource for all people, regardless of background or socioeconomic status," Representative Morales said. "Therefore, it is in all of our interests to ensure our libraries are well-funded and have the resources needed to remain strong and vibrant in the years ahead."

    The Rhode Island Library Association urges the General Assembly to pass the FY24 budget with the inclusion of these important funds for our public libraries.

    The RI Library Association is a professional organization that serves its members through career development, education, networking partnerships and legislative action and seeks to inspire and promote excellence in library services, through training, innovation, and advocacy. RILA also supports libraries and library workers to meet the diverse needs of the populations they serve.

  • Monday, November 21, 2022 12:04 PM | Anonymous

    Inspired by their Sesquicentennial Soiree a year ago, Senator Jack Reed nominated Pascoag Public Library in Burrillville for the Institute of Museum & Library Services (IMLS) National Medal for Museum & Library Service. This is the nation's highest honor for museums & libraries that make significant & exceptional contributions to their communities.

    Recipients will be announced in Spring 2023.

    "It's a bit of a cliche, but in this case we feel it truly is an honor just to be considered for this award. Then, to be nominated by someone with the stature of Senator Reed, well, we're thrilled & grateful beyond measure." (quote: Board of Trustees President Kathan Lambert & Library Director Gretchen Hanley)