A library is the great equalizer of any community. There is no judgment, no class system and no requirements to enter.
But a library is also a financially functioning entity and is beholden to the taxpayers of its municipality to be accountable of how the money it receives is spent.
According to the fiscal year 2017 report, the CPL operating budget was $3,336,344. They also received a 5.7 percent increase in funding from the City of Cranston and $595,274 came from in state grant-in-aid. CPL also received $305,000 in funds for Capital Projects. The rest of the operating budget was the result of fees and fines.
There are 13 members of the CPL administration and staff. There are seven members of the Board of Trustees, and eight members serve on CPL Association Board of Directors.
Six branches of the library are located throughout Cranston, while Warwick has five, and Providence has 10.
Some facts and numbers about the libraries across the city include: there are 209,071 books, 559,595 items were loaned, and the branches were open for 10,813 hours and had 400,274 visitors.
Cranston has 38,711 library cardholders.
One thousand one hundred ninety-nine programs were offered to children, teens, families and adults, and 24,295 people attended those programs. There were 65 computer classes held with 369 attendees.
To continue its service to those who cannot make it physically to a branch, they delivered 4,953 items to homebound residents.
Ed Garcia has been the Executive Director of Library Services for the past six years and he’s been with CPL fulltime since December 2008.
One of Garcia’s proudest moments in 2017 was the $550,000 renovation of the children’s room at the Central library.
“This two-year project re-imagined youth services at the library, with a space that encourages tactile play and imagination,” he said in his letter from the Director in the report.
Since the renovation, the room has actually received the 2017 Merit Award from the American Institute of Architects, RI Chapter, and was featured in Library Journal in its “Library Architecture 2017”.
“The funding for this project came from City impact fees, and CPL was awarded a $200,000 grant from the Champlin Foundations,” said Garcia. “There were no additional taxpayer costs associated with the project.”
In September, the libraries partnered with Mayor Allan Fung’s office and Cranston Public Schools to offer the “Fresh Start” initiative.
According to the report, in one month nearly 1,100 library cards were issued or updated and $2,919 in fines was waived.
Moving forward, Garcia is getting ready to put out bids to renovate the public restrooms, replace the lighting, install lighting in the handicapped stalls getting new floors and new stalls.
“When I became Director, there was a huge list of capital projects going back to 2006. Mayor Fung and the Council have been very helpful and supportive, and the list has greatly decreased,” said Garcia.
Cranston had received a grant from the Rhode Island Foundation for $10,000 to implement a mobile library cart, called Booklit, that will travel throughout the community and bring books and seating to playgrounds and other community gathering places starting in the spring.
“I am also really pleased that we have been able to extend hours at most branches. We reinstated Thursdays at the Auburn branch, and we now have morning hours at William Hall, for the first time in 10 years,” said Garcia.
To view the Annual Report in its entirety, or to learn more about events and programs at Cranston libraries, visit their web site, cranstonlibrary.org.