OLIS History

In 1962, the Rhode Island Library Association requested the establishment of a Legislative Commission on Libraries to study existing library laws and recommend legislation pertaining to libraries. The resulting Commission on Libraries submitted its report to the General Assembly in 1964 with 24 recommendations embodied in draft legislation to amend Title 29, Libraries, of the RI General Laws. At the same time, the federal Library Services and Construction Act (LSCA), first authorized in 1962, required that each state have a state library agency to receive LSCA funds.


  • Governor John Chafee signs legislation creating the Department of State Library Services (DSLS). Legislation includes grant-in-aid to cities and towns (25 cents per capita), construction reimbursement, and designates regional library centers (Barrington, Providence, Westerly), a principal public library (Providence), and a special research center (Brown University Library).

  • Elizabeth Myer is appointed director and is the first woman to lead a state department. Agency has 18 full time employees, expenditures of $926,000.

  • DSLS is located in Roger Williams Building, Hayes Street, Providence.


  • Standards developed and voted by the RI Library Association are activated for the state.

  • Reauthorized Library Services and Construction Act (LSCA) shifts focus of DSLS from promoting public library services to coordinating various types of library services.


  • Library of Congress designates a RI Regional Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped at DSLS.

  • DSLS moves to 95 Davis Street, Providence and remains there for 21 years.


  • Network of five interrelated library systems established to coordinate library resources on a cooperative basis.


  • URI Graduate Library School is accredited by the American Library Association.


  • Senator Claiborne Pell advocates for a White House Conference on Libraries on the Senate floor as “Overdue, Urgently needed.”


  • DSLS establishes direct linkage through the New England Library Information Network (NELINET) to the national bibliographic data bank at the Ohio College Library Center.


  • Jewel Drickamer becomes the second director of DSLS.


  • DSLS has 31 employees and a budget of $1,600,000.

  • Summer Reading Program for children 6-12 years old launches, to maintain reading skills over the summer.


  • Governor J. Joseph Garrahy selects Victoria Lederberg to plan a Conference on Library and Information Services to recommend improvements for library and information services.


  • Interlibrary deliveries begin through contracts with regional library centers.


  • RI Library Film Cooperative is established into law.

  • RI Library Trustees Manual is published, compiled and edited by Frank Iacono.


  • Faye Zipkowitz is appointed as the third director of DSLS.


  • Computerization of communications functions begins.


  • State Publications Clearinghouse established at the State Library.

  • RI Library Network (RHILINET) established to develop a statewide resource sharing plan.


  • RI voters overwhelmingly approve an amendment to the state Constitution to include library services.


  • Bruce Daniels is appointed as the fourth director of DSLS.

  • General Assembly creates Legislative Commission to Study the Funding of Library Services statewide.


  • DSLS moves to 300 Richmond Street, Providence.


  • Governor Ed DiPrete signs Senator Victoria Lederberg’s Library Funding and Networking bill into law, mandating grant-in-aid at 25 percent of local funding by the year 2000.


  • Interlibrary deliveries with regional library centers phased out in early 1990s by commercial statewide delivery service; 134 libraries receiving delivery.

  • Public Library Construction Program is placed on hiatus during the Credit Union crisis.


  • Barbara Weaver becomes fifth director of DSLS.

  • Bricks and Mortar of the Mind, a statewide preservation plan, is created through a grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities.


  • Quohog (Quick Access to Holdings) lists 2.5 million items from 75 RI libraries on a CD-ROM.

  • Library of Rhode Island (LORI) is envisioned as a virtual library linking resources and libraries of all kinds.


  • DSLS is dissolved, and the powers, functions, and staff of DSLS are transferred to the newly created Office of Library and Information Services (OLIS) under the Department of Administration.


  • OLIS is moved to the Department of Administration building at One Capitol Hill, Providence.


  • Governor Lincoln Almond reactivates Public Library Construction Program, effective in 2000.


  • RHILINET is renamed the Library of Rhode Island (LORI).


  • New Minimum Standards for RI Public Libraries are placed in effect.

  • Grant-in-aid to cities and towns reaches 25% of local funding (sustained until 2008).


  • Anne Parent hired as Chief of Library Services - the 6th director.


  • OLIS convenes a statewide task force to create a collective vision for libraries and museum services in RI, known as the LibFutures Steering Committee.


  • General Assembly creates special legislative commission to study the current strengths and weaknesses of library services (Karla Harry Commission).

  • Endowment-based grant-in-aid is added to RI General Law 29-6-2.


  • AskRI launches, providing online reference services and database access through the Statewide Reference Resource Center.


  • Statewide catalog of library holdings and statewide databases added to OLIS responsibilities in RI General Law 29-6-9 through efforts of the Karla Harry Commission.

  • Howard Boksenbaum becomes Chief Library Officer - the 7th director.


  • AskRI adds statewide databases for all Rhode Islanders (EBSCO, HeritageQuest, Tutor.com, WorldBook).


  • RELAIS is launched to facilitate interlibrary loan between Rhode Island libraries.


  • Library Services and Technology Act is reauthorized, with RI Senator Jack Reed as the lead sponsor.


  • Legislation designating the Statewide Reference Resource Center as a service of the Providence Public Library is amended to enable any public library to bid for the designation.

  • OLIS library is renamed the Frank Iacono Library.


  • Covered bins are implemented for OLIS Delivery.

  • New Minimum Standards for Public Libraries are approved by the Library Board of RI.


  • OLIS awards grant to Ocean State Libraries to work in partnership with HELIN to develop a shared access catalog of the holdings of OSL and HELIN libraries.

  • Karen Mellor is appointed Chief of Library Services, the eighth director of the agency.


  • New Library of Rhode Island Standards are approved by the Library Board of RI.


  • Interstate delivery to Massachusetts is launched, in partnership with the Massachusetts Library System and HELIN.

  • OLIS becomes part of the Enterprise Technology Strategy and Services (ETSS) Division at the Department of Administration.