A Trio of Libraries: Providence’s Public Library, Community Library and the Athenaeum

The Providence Athenaeum children's section has a cozy reading area filled with children's books.

Let’s see if I’ve got this straight.  The Providence Public Library consists of the Central Library at 150 Empire Street in downtown Providence.  But since July 2009 due to fiscal problems, the other nine city branches (Rochambeau, Fox Point, etc.) have been overseen by a nonprofit organization called the Providence Community Library.  As unusual as this sounds, the two remain linked, so that one can take a book out of the Rochambeau branch with a Providence Public library card.

There’s also the Providence Athenaeum, an independent membership library housed in an 1838 Greek Revival building in College Hill, which shouldn’t be overlooked.  Although there’s an annual membership fee, you gain access to events, borrowing privileges from their collection and RISD’s, and the knowledge that you’re supporting a historic piece of the community.  If membership fee seems too steep, no matter — the library is open to the public and encourages visitors.

With all this variety comes one challenge — keeping track of events.  So if you happen to be looking for a children’s story time, for example, be sure to check the Cradles to Crayons series held at both the main and other branches, as well as the the Athenaeum’s story hours.

Providence Athenaeum
251 Benefit Street
Providence, RI

Providence Public Library
150 Empire Street
Providence, RI

Providence Community Library
See a list of branches.

4 thoughts on “A Trio of Libraries: Providence’s Public Library, Community Library and the Athenaeum

  1. All three are great organizations. If you get a chance, check out some of the branches that PCL now runs. In particular, Knight Memorial on Elmwood and Rochambeau on Hope are lovely old buildings.

  2. I’ve been to Rochambeau, which is wonderful and has a terrific children’s library. I’ll have to make it over to Knight Memorial next… Thanks for the suggestion!

  3. Sadly, Knight Memorial never got the renovation it was promised. Although it’s in a sorry state of disrepair, it’s still easy to see what a beautiful building it was.

  4. Pingback: Flying Horse Carousel in Watch Hill « The Rhode Less Traveled: A Rhode Island Blog

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