State Programs > State Profiles
Rhode Island

State Librarian

Ms. Karen Mellor
Chief Library Officer
Rhode Island Office of Library & Information Services
One Capitol Hill, Second Floor
Providence, RI 02908-5803
Phone: 401/574-9304
Fax: 401/574-9320

State library website:

“The Office of Library and Information Services ensures access to and sharing of resources both physical and virtual in all types of libraries to users of all abilities, with the Library of Rhode Island as the cornerstone of this effort.  We also provide and create opportunities for library and staff development, enabling libraries to enhance their capacity to provide services and resources for all Rhode Islanders.”

--Karen Mellor, Chief of Library Services, Rhode Island Office of Library and Information Services


The Grants to States Program

The Grants to States Program is the largest grant program run by IMLS; it provides funds to State Library Administrative Agencies (SLAAs) using a population-based formula set by the law. SLAAs determine goals and objectives for the funds in their statutorily required five-year plan (see below). For more information, see the Grants to States program overview.


Recent Allotments

2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
$1,102,216 $1,086,948 $1,060,158 $1,076,202 $1,070,842

View allotments for all states


Project Examples

All Star Readers at the Pawtucket Red Sox gameYouth Services
The Office of Library and Information Services (OLIS) Youth Services Coordinator managed and coordinated Rhode Island’s statewide summer reading program and served as the state representative to the national Collaborative Summer Library Program. She developed and implemented the Kids Reading Across Rhode Island initiative in partnership with the RI Center for the Book at the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities. She worked with committees of children’s and young adult librarians to determine the topics and presenters for continuing education programs. The OLIS Youth Services Coordinator participated in the Summer Learning Working Group convened by the Rhode Island Afterschool Plus Alliance (RIASPA), which meets quarterly and includes summer learning program practitioners and administrators. Grant funds also supported the participation of nine young adult librarians in a two part MovieMaker class.
IMLS Funds: $136,686

trainees at Cranston Public Library triage wet materialsPreservation and Disaster Services
Preservation and disaster planning are both legal requirements for Rhode Island public libraries, and the Office of Library and Information Services (OLIS) requires them to use dPlan-RI, an online disaster-planning template. Project activities included training, symposia on regional disaster planning, conference exhibits and Steering Committee meetings. OLIS and FEMA Region I collaborated to mitigate disaster impacts throughout Rhode Island, including monitoring any damage from Hurricane Sandy and Winter Storm Nemo. OLIS also continued to partner with the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency (RIEMA), by attending their Advisory Council meetings and distributing new sets of FEMA floodplain mapping resources to 27 public libraries. During the project period, ten public libraries were prescreened and approved to be on the list of FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers for Individual and Small Business Assistance.
IMLS Funds: $53,794

Other project(s) featured through IMLS media include:

Search the Awarded Grants Database for additional details about awards in this state.


Five-Year Plan

Each state creates a 5-year plan for its programs to strengthen the efficiency, reach, and effectiveness of library services. Click here to read Rhode Island's 5-year plan for 2013-2017 (PDF, 89KB). View all states' plans.


Five-Year Plan Highlights

Lifelong Learning


  • Ensure that 13,000 children and 1,800 teens, including those who are blind or have physical disabilities, will complete and have a positive reading experience in their local library’s Summer Reading Program. Kick-off Summer Reading Programs in collaboration with the Rhode Island Center for the Book. Maintain active membership in the national Collaborative Summer Library Program.

Information Access

Access to E-Resources

  • Provide online tools for speakers of foreign languages who wish to learn or improve their use of English, and for English speakers who wish to learn or improve their foreign language skills.

Interlibrary Loans

  • Involve libraries of all types in effective resource sharing functions and activities through the Library of Rhode Island (LORI) Resources Sharing Working Group.
  • Provide delivery for interlibrary loans to every library statewide.
  • Provide access to the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) FirstSearch database (or a successor) as a means for discovering and borrowing materials from out-of-state sources.
  • Participate in Ocean State Libraries (OSL) and the Higher Education Library Information Network (HELIN), which is the consortium of Rhode Island’s 12 academic and 14 hospital libraries that focuses on sharing an integrated library system (ILS), and other state committees related to sharing library resources, as needed.

Reference Services

  • Operate the Rhode Island Statewide Reference Resource Center, which includes keeping AskRI up-and-running for all Rhode Islanders.

Economic and Employment Development

Job Seekers

  • Create workforce development centers at 20 libraries in high areas of unemployment in cooperation with the Department of Labor and Training.
  • Provide online tools for career exploration and preparation for professional licensing tests.

Institutional Capacity

Continuing Education

  • Partner with the Department of Labor and Training to present four workshops annually for librarians and the Department’s staff to improve awareness of workforce resources.
  • Provide continuing education programs online and in-person for library staff.
  • Provide specific training for library staff in early literacy programming and techniques.

Civic Engagement


  • Develop robust programs and services designed specifically for children, teens, and adults.
  • Partner with the Economic Development Corporation to implement a coordinated digital literacy program in libraries.

Civic Collaboration

  • Promote the use of, an online disaster planning template, to Rhode Island museums, archives, preservation and historical societies, and historic sites.
  • Participate in the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency’s Advisory Council.

Human Services

Special Services for Special Needs

  • Provide library services for the blind and physically disabled, including keeping current on new equipment and products, and producing and distributing the Talking Times newsletter in multiple formats to ensure that those who rely on these resources know what is available.
  • Provide information on state agencies, community organizations, and other local programs that help adult learners develop their reading, writing, and speaking skills.
  • Provide test preparation resources for Rhode Islanders preparing for college and graduate school entrance, and the GED.

Information for New Immigrants

  • Provide test preparation resources for residents who are applying for U.S. citizenship.


Five-Year Evaluation

At the end of a 5-year period, each state reports their results in achieving goals and objectives projected in their 5-Year Plan. Click here to read Rhode Island's 5-year evaluation for 2008-2012 (PDF, 981KB). View all states' evaluations.


IMLS Data Collection

State Library Survey
The State Library Agency Survey (SLAA) provides descriptive data about state library agencies for all fifty states and the District of Columbia.

Public Library Survey
The Public Library Survey (PLS) provides national descriptive data on the status of public libraries in the United States and its territories. Data are collected from over 9,000 public library systems with over 17,000 public library outlets. Click here for Rhode Island's profile from the most recent PLS publication (PDF, 335KB).