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Rep Morales tours Providence Community Libraries to promote fully funding ALL state libraries

“Public libraries are the heart of our communities and a key that unlocks opportunity for all people, regardless of background,” said Representative Morales. “In addition to being vital sources of information and a space for learning and recreation, they are public environments where our neighbors from all walks of life come together.”
Photo for Rep Morales tours Providence Community Libraries to promote fully funding ALL state libraries

Published on April 4, 2022
By Steve Ahlquist

Representative David Morales (Democrat, District 7, Providence) will tour all nine of the Providence Community Libraries this week – National Library Week – in support of his legislation requiring that the state fulfill its financial obligations to public libraries statewide.

“Public libraries are the heart of our communities and a key that unlocks opportunity for all people, regardless of background,” said Representative Morales. “In addition to being vital sources of information and a space for learning and recreation, they are public environments where our neighbors from all walks of life come together. Libraries are vast, interconnected, free resources that everyone, without regard to their income, age, education, or any other factor, has access to. From exciting programming to the distribution of resources, our libraries are vibrant and essential to our communities. Therefore, the state must honor its commitment to supporting them, especially after all their hard work throughout the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

UpriseRI caught up with Representative Morales at the Rochambeau Library on the East Side of Providence. He was joined by Representative Rebecca Kislak, (Democrat, District 4, Providence). Rochambeau is Representative Kislak’s neighborhood library.

“It’s important to fully fund our library. They’re really important glues of the community,” said Representative Kislak. “They function as community spaces.”

Representative Kislak also pointed out that underfunding our libraries leave federal reimbursement money, our tax dollars, on the table. “We should maximize our funding for libraries.”

The legislation, H7916, would require that in Fiscal Year 2023, the state must reimburse each city and town 25% of the amount it spent in the second preceding fiscal year from local tax revenues and any private library endowment for public library services. Under the bill, the state would be allowed to use funds from the American Rescue Plan Act State Fiscal Recovery Funds. The House bill was introduced March 7 with over 40 cosponsors and has been assigned to the House Finance Committee.

Existing state law mandates that 25% level of support from the state, but the last time the state fully met that requirement was 2009. The current state budget reimburses only about 21.8% of local expenditures.

“We are grateful to Representative Morales for introducing this bill and honored that his citywide advocacy tour will showcase the services and programs of Community Libraries of Providence during National Library Week,” said Cheryl Space, Director of the Community Libraries of Providence, in a statement. “Representative Morales understands that public libraries like ours provide critical resources that support families and change lives. His bill will benefit not only our own community libraries but every public library in the state.”

“While I’m conducting this tour to call attention to a serious budget issue, visiting our libraries will be a lot of fun! I look forward to learning about all the resources and programming each library offers and meeting our youth and adults that enjoy these services,” said Representative Morales.

Here’s the complete schedule of Representative Morales’ library visits:

Monday, April 4

  • 11am – 11:45am South Providence Library (441 Prairie Avenue)
  • 1pm – 1:45pm. Rochambeau Library (708 Hope Street)
  • 2:15pm – 3pm Olneyville Library (1 Olneyville Square)
  • 3:30pm – 4:15pm Mt. Pleasant Library (315 Academy Avenue)
  • 4:45pm – 5:30pm Smith Hill Library (31 Candace Street)
  • 6:00pm – 6:45pm Knight Memorial Library (275 Elmwood Avenue)

Friday, April 8

  • 2:15pm – 3pm Wanskuck Library (233 Veazie Street)
  • 3:30pm – 4:15pm Washington Park Library (1316 Broad Street)
  • 4:45pm – 5:30pm Fox Point (90 Ives Street)

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