“Public libraries are the heart of our communities and a key that unlocks opportunity for all people, regardless of background. 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,” said Representative Morales (D-Dist. 7, Providence). “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.”
Representative Morales’ legislation (2022-H 7916) 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. 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,” said Cheryl Space, Director of the Community Libraries of Providence.
Representative Morales said he’s excited to visit each community library, and has invited Providence city councilors and fellow Providence legislators to join him at their local libraries.
“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.
The media is invited to join Representative Morales at any point during the tour. His schedule follows:
11:00am - 11:45 a.m. South Providence Library (441 Prairie Avenue)
1:00pm - 1:45 p.m. Rochambeau Library (708 Hope Street)
2:15pm - 3:00 p.m. Olneyville Library (1 Olneyville Square)
3:30pm - 4:15 p.m. Mt. Pleasant Library (315 Academy Avenue)
4:45pm - 5:30 p.m. Smith Hill Library (31 Candace Street)
6:00pm - 6:45 p.m. Knight Memorial Library (275 Elmwood Avenue)
Friday, April 8
2:15pm - 3:00 p.m. Wanskuck Library (233 Veazie Street)
3:30pm - 4:15 p.m. Washington Park Library (1316 Broad Street)
4:45pm - 5:30 p.m. Fox Point (90 Ives Street)