Renovation Update and a Giant Bat

“Hey, Special Collections Librarians,” we can hear you thinking, “where have you been?”

Renovation has been kicking into high gear over here at the Providence Public Library.

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Workers create an open stairwell through the building’s many floors.

We’ve been cleaning and packing materials in preparation for our move into newly-renovated, climate-controlled stacks. We’ve vacuumed many of our books with a special HEPA vacuum to clean them before they’re loaded onto carts, and we’ve been setting shelves to hold our materials in their new space. Delicate items are getting wrapped, and Jordan has been making a Herculean effort to track every book’s current and future location through color-coded spreadsheets and maps. Everything is topsy-turvy (but in a collections-preserving manner, don’t worry).

Renovation

Part of this space will eventually be our new exhibition gallery.

We’re not taking research requests or appointments at the moment, as most of our collections are inaccessible. We’re hoping to have completed the move by late July or August; we’ll post an update on this blog and on our social media once we’re taking new reference questions and research appointments. In the meantime, you can always check the PPL website for updates about the building transformation, or visit our colleagues at the Rhode Island State Archives, Providence City Archives, Rhode Island Historical Society, and other awesome local institutions for all of your research needs.

To tide you over for the next month or two, here’s an exciting illustration of a giant bat soaring above a cathedral (taken from a children’s book about animals called On Four Feet):

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Exhibition Curator’s Talk May 22nd at Bell Street Chapel

Have you taken a look at our current digital exhibition about Providence’s vacant spaces, or visited any of the locations on the tour to see the signs?

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Exhibition curator Angela DiVeglia will be giving a talk on Wednesday, May 22nd in the lower level of the Bell Street Chapel from 6:00 – 7:30 pm. (Did you know that the park next to Bell Street Chapel used to be a convent?)

The evening will begin with a short presentation where Angela will show highlights from the exhibition, discuss her research and curatorial process, and answer questions from the audience. The second half of the event will consist of an optional interactive workshop with drawing and writing prompts to encourage audience members to engage with vacant and open spaces from their day-to-day lives or from their memories.

Learn more and register for the event here!

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This used to be…

We’re excited to announce that our 2019 spring exhibition is out in the world as of today. And this time we really mean out in the world. Due to our ongoing renovation we don’t have an actual exhibition gallery, so this year’s curator, Angela DiVeglia, moved the exhibition outdoors.

Exhibition curator, Angela DiVeglia, with one of the signs.

parking lot with carsStarting today, you’ll see signs like this one out in the wild, highlighting the fact that what looks like an empty piece of the city actually might have a colorful history. For instance, this looks a pretty nondescript parking lot, right? But it wasn’t a parking lot in 1914; instead it was Melrose Park, home to baseball’s Providence Grays and their young up-and-coming pitcher, Babe Ruth. You can read all about it via the Rhode Tour app or website, where you’ll find historic images of each site.

You can learn more about the exhibition and program series on our website, where you can find a map of all the sites and links to the Rhode Tour website. Or stop by the library later this week to pick up a printed map.

As a bonus, here’s a gallery of installation photos…

This exhibition is part of the Year of the City programming.

Announcing Our New Online Gallery

Here in PPL’s Special Collections, we have the immense pleasure of working frequently with amazing artists and designers who use our collections for information, inspiration, and source materials. They challenge us with unusual research questions and dig into our materials in delightful, non-linear ways.

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Photo of paint brush and palette from a studio visit with Keri King

Which leads to our exciting announcement: we’ve created an online gallery featuring artworks inspired by materials from our collections! Click through to see artworks, source materials, artist bios, and links to artists’ websites. (Special thanks to our Digital Content Coordinator, John Bent, for all of his hard work on this.)

We’ll be adding to the gallery in the coming months. Have you made something based on Special Collections research that you’d like to see included? Drop us a line.

Reminder: Creative Fellowship proposals due 10/1

Reminder: proposals for our 2019 Creative Fellowship are due this coming Monday, October 1. A full description of this year’s theme, along with application instructions, can be found here.

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Call for Proposals: 2019 Creative Fellowship

We’re excited to announce that PPL is now accepting proposals for our 2019 Creative Fellowship.

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We’re looking for an artist working in the field of creative writing (poetry, playwriting, fiction, creative nonfiction, etc.) to make new, research-based work related to the theme of our 2019 exhibition and program series: cityscapes and the evolving built environment.

Details on the Creative Fellowship, requirements, and application guidelines can be found here.

PPL Renovation: It’s Here!

Those of you who follow us on Facebook or Twitter have already heard, but for blog-reading purists: PPL is beginning a major building renovation this week! We’re excited for all the changes this will bring, and the ways in which it will improve how we serve the public.

The 12-18 month renovation will affect our general circulation, as well as access to Special Collections. Notably: we are no longer holding weekly open hours, but Special Collections is still open to researchers by appointment. This Building Transformation page on the PPL website will have up-to-date information throughout the renovation. (It also has cool architect’s renderings of the new space.)