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Public Libraries of Rhode Island

No public libraries of this state received Carnegie funding.

Bristol (Rogers Free Library)

This odd little postal is the oldest in my collection. The person from whom I purchased it stated that it was from the 1870s.

Further research is needed on this Trustees' Meeting notice. I find it curious that the trustees had to mail it to their own head librarian.

Hope Valley (Langworthy Public Library)

This is the 1934 building: it received a new wing in 1957.


Berger Brothers postcard, annotated as purchased in 1946.

Jamestown Philomenian Library

Organized in 1828, the Philomenian Debating Society and Conanicut's lending library were combined in 1874. I believe this view shows one of the many private homes which housed the library, until its dedicated home was built in 1971.

This photo view was taken by Violet Hayward; the only such in my collection by a female photographer. Its message was typed in 1945.

Moosup Valley (Tyler Public Library)

Now part of the Foster Libraries.

A church and smaller library of Moosup Valley, RI.

Curious library history. The smaller, library building was opened in 1900, and didn't seem to serve full library functions. It was incorporated in 1950, when the state improved its collection. In 1965, the building was relocated and attached to a disused one-room school building. It shares a librarian with the Foster Library. They were incorporated jointly as the Libraries of Foster.

J.L. &  C.H. Seddon of Providence printed this postcard for M.L. Bates.

Newport (Redwood Library)

Claimed by Mercury Publishing of Newport to be the oldest public library in America.

The Library & Athenaeum's history page concurs. It also adds that its designer Peter Harrison introduced the Palladian designs, in turn based on Roman classical origins, to what was to become the US.
Honestly, I wish he'd left the style back where it belonged.

I am certain that this is the only public library still extant which was used as a British officer's club.

Berger Bros. adds a detail that it was founded by Abraham Redwood in 1747.

Pawtucket (Deborah Cook Sayles Public Library)

(L) Divided back card, number P-64466.

(R) Private mailing card, sent in 1903.

Founded in 1857, but I'd be surprised if this building is quite that old. Today, the library building has been connected to the city's old post office to provide more space.

Providence Athenæum

German postcard mailed in 1907.


Established in 1773, according to the chrome postcard. It's not a public library, but a subscription library. The building is still in use.

(L) The Children's Library, Providence Public Library, Providence, R.I.'
With a single reading child.

(R) Peoples' clothing seems much more modern than the card catalogs.


The community is now served by a branch of the East Providence Library, located in a far newer building than this 1894 one. I would be surprised if this still stands.

Litho-Chrome brand card, mailed in 1907.

Saunderstown (Willett Free Library)

Founded in 1885. This dedicated building was built in 1903, and it's still in use, with a 2013 addition. It's the smallest library in America's smallest state.

The postcard was printed in Germany for E.E. Briggs.

Warren (George Hail Free Library)

Caption in error, as Haile. I don't know whom to blame on this, as I don't know its manufacturer.


The 1888 William Walker & Sons Romanesque library building is still in use. There seem to have been only cosmetic renovations made.


According to the Library's history page, this building originally contained a GAR Hall, bowling alley, art gallery and a museum. Therefore, they had room to expand as the other functions ceased. 98 years later, it finally needed an addition.


Metropolitan News Co. card, mailed in 1909.

(L) 'Colorcraft' Dexter Press card.
Autos appear to date from the late 1940s.

(R) Dexter Press card.

Wickford (North Kingstown Free Library)

Replaced in 1970, after a ten year struggle. It sounds as if the building was about to fall down in the 1960s: I'm going to presume that it's gone.


Litho-Chrome brand card, printed in Germany.

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