Each of Rhode Island’s 39 municipalities has at least one public library, for a total of 48 tax-supported systems, and all the institutions of higher learning have at least one library each. There are also about 30 specialized libraries, some open to the public, in the state. Libraries circulate an average of 6.7 books for every resident each year. The Office of Library and Information Services coordinates a wide variety of services and library development. The largest public library in the state is the Providence Public Library, which includes notable special collections on the American Civil War (1861-1865) and slavery, and on printing, whaling, juvenile literature, and Irish culture. The oldest library in the state is the Redwood Library and Athenaeum in Newport, which was founded in 1747.
Brown University libraries include the John Hay Library. This library’s collections include the Annmary Brown Memorial Collection, one of the country’s largest and most important accumulation of books printed through the year 1500; the Broadsides Collection, featuring examples of single-sheet imprints from American political and social history, literature, and music; the Harris Collection of American Poetry and Plays; noted manuscript collections, including those of writers H. P. Lovecraft, Henry David Thoreau, and Émile Zola; and special collections on Italian poet Dante Alighieri and 18th century English Literature. Other major college libraries are located at the University of Rhode Island at Kingston and at the Rhode Island School of Design. The Rhode Island Historical Society Library, which is located in Providence, has extensive materials on the state’s history.
Among the fine art museums in Rhode Island are those maintained by the Rhode Island School of Design, at Providence, and the Newport Art Museum. There are historical museums in the state, including the museums maintained by the Rhode Island Historical Society, at Providence, and by the Newport Historical Society. Rhode Island is also rich in historic sites and structures. The Slater Mill Historic Site, commonly known as Old Slater Mill, in Pawtucket, is a museum of textile history and arts. An outstanding group of buildings, which date from colonial times and later periods, is found in Newport, where the Preservation Society of Newport County aids in restoring and preserving important structures. One of these, a palatial mansion called The Breakers, was built in 1895 as a summer residence for Cornelius Vanderbilt. Other museums in Rhode Island include Brown University’s Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology, in Bristol, which contains outstanding anthropological and archaeological collections. "Rhode Island" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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