April 21, 2018

RI Officials Push to Open Providence PL Meetings

By LJ Staff

Rhode Island’s House and Senate have proposed bills that would force private libraries receiving state funding to open their meetings to the public. The legislation was forged in the controversy surrounding the 2004 restructuring by the Providence Public Library (PPL) that cut hours, staff, and reconfigured one of its nine branches, according to the Providence Journal. PPL, which receives 61 percent of its funding from state and city coffers, is one of 26 private Rhode Island libraries. Though the state’s Office of Library Services, the ACLU, and numerous Friends groups back the legislation, Providence Library spokesperson Tonia Mason claims the bill ignores that PPL is not organized like most libraries and that the wording of the Open Meetings Law doesn’t accommodate private facilities. PPL further contends that open meetings could spook potential board members and especially donors, which would increase its already pressing financial woes. Rhonda Perry (D – Providence), the senate bill’s sponsor, said PPL’s concerns will be considered.