1966 -1982

With the opening of the young people's wing in October 1966, a new era began for the Greenville Public Library. Expanded facilities spread over two floors required additional staff, and the larger building added to maintenance costs for heating, lighting, insurance, and janitorial service. Federal and state regulations regarding minimum wages also compounded the problem. A further complication arose in November 1968 when Mrs. Dexter resigned as librarian, to take a position in the Pawtucket Public Library. Regulations promulgated by the Department of State Library Services required that the library now should be headed by a professional librarian with a library school degree. Since there were insufficient funds for such a salary, the Department waived this regulation temporarily, and the Board engaged Mrs. Shirley K. Steere as Acting Librarian, effective December 1968.

Fortunately the Town Council was generally sympathetic to the Board's appeals for larger appropriations, but it was not until 1972/73 that there was sufficient money to appoint a professional librarian.

Several factors were responsible for this development. First of all, the Department had indicated that the waiver regarding a professional librarian could not be continued indefinitely. Secondly, the Department was recommending that library service in any single town should be unified in some way. The Board of the East Smithfield Public Library, which was a merger of the former Bernon Library in Georgiaville and the Esmond Library voted in August 1971 to join with the Greenville Public Library in a search for a Coordinator of Smithfield libraries, East Smithfield agreeing to assume part of the salary cost.

In May 1972 Mrs. Caroline Simmons, who soon would be graduating from the URI library school in June, was appointed librarian of the Greenville Public Library and Coordinator of Smithfield libraries. She continued in this position until March 1973, when Mrs. Caroline Simmons Boudreau resigned to move to Worcester, where she would assist her new husband in his business. As Coordinator she initiated a project that is still being carried on -- the monthly "Libraries of Smithfield" containing, announcements of activities in both libraries and mailed to association members of each library.

Mrs. Boudreau was succeeded as Librarian-Coordinator by Mrs. Ellen P. Spilka April 23, 1973. She previously had been director of the Northern Interrelated Library Services, Pawtucket, was enthusiastic about the programs and activities of the Greenville library and was anxious to obtain experience in administering a small public library. She resigned her position, however November 14, 197h, to take the library directorship in Andover, Massachusetts.

Mrs. Shirley A. Steere, who had been Acting Librarian from 1968 to May 1972, was named Assistant Librarian and Childrens Librarian in May 1972. When Mrs. Spilka resigned in 1974, she was again named Acting Librarian until the appointment of Matthew J. Higgins as Librarian-Coordinator in February 1975. Upon his resignation in October 1978 to take a position in the Department of State Library services Mrs. Steere was again named Acting Librarian, which position she held until April 1979, when Mrs. Janet A. Levesque began her appointment as Librarian-Coordinator. On November 30, 1981, Mrs. Levesque resigned to become the Director of libraries in Cumberland. She was succeeded by Christopher LaRoux on December 1, 1981, who now is the twelfth librarian of the Greenville Public Library and the fifth Librarian-Coordinator.

In the earlier years Miss Cora L. Burlingame personified the library. From 1968 to 1981 Mrs. Shirley Steere was recognized as the library figure. As Acting Librarian, assistant librarian, children's librarian, cataloger, story-teller, patient guide, and instructor to all new library staff members, and an active participant in many programs and other library events, she was a truly dedicated community figure. Her unexpected death November 9, 1981, was a shock not only to the library staff but also to library patrons and friends. It is fitting that the Board has thoughtfully dedicated the children's room as a memorial to her, and that many friends have contributed to a book fund in her name.

An important factor in the growth of library service in Greenville was occasioned by the total reorganization of library service in the state. The new Department of State Library Services, established in 1964, initiated a wide variety of statewide library programs, particularly in the setting up of regional centers to augment local service. Greenville became an active participant in the Northern Region, whose office is located in the Pawtucket Public Library. As part of the vital interlibrary loan service Greenville has both furnished material to, and borrowed from libraries in the state. The regional office provides answers to difficult reference questions, and funds became available for the augmenting of book collections within specific fields. Greenville is responsible for the purchase of books in the field of arts and crafts, which are then available on interlibrary loan, not only to other libraries in the Northern Region, but to all libraries in the state. The Department originally also provided collections of books in various categories that could be borrowed by a library for a long period of time. (Unfortunately in 1981 this collection suffered from the budget cuts at the state level.)

With increased monies available, the library widened its field of holdings. Not only books and magazines were added, but also phonograph records, cassettes, microfilms, jig-saw puzzles, and pre-primary kits for mothers' use at home were purchased.

Many programs were set up for various groups. A regular monthly feature for many years was first called "Mothers' Forum", with a pre-primary children's story hour at the same time. Nursery schools, such as "Head Start" and a number of other schools have taken advantage of special storyhours. The variety of Sunday afternoon programs was continued, particularly art shows and travel talks. An annual series of programs by the art and music departments of the junior high school has attracted many people. Local piano teachers have continued to use the meeting room for pupils' recitals.

The library has cooperated with other libraries in the area for special projects, including East Smithfield, North Providence, and Johnston. Many of these projects were funded by special grants from the Department of State Library Servicies. Library service has been extended to nursing homes in Smithfield, as well as direct service to the Greenville Manor. The library belongs to the Rhode Island Film Cooperative and thus has been able to provide films for the use of nursing homes and other organizations.


The first event since the building of the new addition was an art show by Cor Sandifort, in November. In December, a revival of Candlelight and Carols, Music for the Advent Season, was given by artists playing, baroque instruments, under the direction of Alison Fowle, of Providence. The usual community singing followed the program.


Celebrating Children's Book week in November was a ballet demonstration by Herci and Myles Marsden and members of the Rhode Island State Ballet. The main reading room was transformed into a theatre giving space for performers as well as the large audience. "Christmas Story in Art on loan from the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design replaced the Candlelight and Carols program in December of 1968.


May of this year featured an art show by the four art teachers in the Smithfield School Department. Exhibitors were Carol Griffin, Marjorie Jaswell, Mary, LaVerdiere, and Sheila McLean. A successful two-day "Country Crafts Sale" was held October 3-4. Handicrafts, baked goods, candy, paintings, herbs and flowers, honey, apples, hand-dipped candles and other items were on sale.


"New England Buttery Shelf", the title of a new cook book by Mrs. Mary Mason Campbell, was the topic of a talk given by the author during, National Library week in April, and was sponsored by both Smithfield libraries. May 3 was the opening of a two-man art show shared by Solace M. G. Loven and Cor Sandifort. May being Rhode Island Heritage Month, James Hain, a URI professor, presented an illustrated lecture on "Oceanography", on May 17. "Art to the People", sponsored by Rhode Island Council on the Arts was held during September this year. "Christmas in Music" was given by the Music Department of the Smithfield High School on December 6. with Robert Cleasby, choral director, and, Allen Tinkham, band director, in charge. Also in December the second of "Art to the People" collection included romantic and realistic paintings of the 19th century.


The third of the series "Art to the People" represented works by American black artists during, February. A series of travel talks named "Sunday Afternoon Travels" began in 1971 with three shows: "Italy -- its Art and History", by Louise and &Kay Moore; "National Parks -- a Tour of the West, by Cecelia and Joseph Katz; and "Williamsburg -- a Colonial Capitol", by Shirley and Russell Steere. Two other Smithfield artists were featured in a show sponsored by both libraries in May, John P. Gallagher and Thurber Hoyt. "Art to the People" continued in July, with "Portraits" furnished by the National Gallery of Art -In Washington. This was followed by "Ten Landscapes", the fifth exhibit in the series. December brought another exhibit in this series, "Masters of Religious Art".


"Art to the People" presented art up to modern times with "Backgrounds of Modern Painting" in February. Sunday Afternoon Travels 1972 brought Lt. Col. Thomas R. Kellett (Ret.) who spoke on "Eastern Europe -- a Look Behind the Curtain; "London and Ireland - Passport for Two", by Mrs. Sarah W. D. Henderson; and "Twenty Years with Streets of the City" by Mrs. Florence P. Simister observing the 90th year of the library, the spring art show was given in May by Alexis W. Krupka, Smithfield, and Mary Jane Spardello, Johnston. As part of the "Historic Days in Smithfield" held at the, high school, both Smithfield libraries were featured in an exhibit demonstrating the varied services available in the town libraries, The library was host to a meeting of the librarians and trustees within the Northern Interrelated Library System in September, with emphasis on revision and updating of standards for Rhode Island libraries.


With Bryant College the library co-sponsored an art film series, the first in Feb . on early 20th century painting. The "Sunday Afternoon Travels" series included "A Look at the Canadian Maritimes" by Shirley and Russell Steere, "A Visit to Spain and Majorica" by the Carousel Travel Agency, and Africa by Miss Ina Stene. In May Mrs. Janet E. Judge of Greenville presented her paintings in a one-man art show. In November Hedley Smith, the Yankee Yorkshire - now of Scituate, gave a talk on "My Own People".


"Sunday Afternoon Travels" began with "England -- Countrysides Castles and Cathedrals" given jointly by Mr. and Mrs. Steere and Mr. and Mrs. Moore. The second one was "Fantastic Morocco by Mildred and Ralph Carlson and the third was "Greece -- Land of Antiquity by Prof. John R. Workman of Brown University. The art show in relay featured works by the Smithfield High School students. The second series of art films co-sponsored at Bryant College was "Civilization", The November art show brought two artists together. The exhibitors were Florence Greene of Smithfield, with oils, and Dr. Ellis Rosenthal of Cranston, with water colors.


The title of "Mothers' Forum was changed to "Library Forum" reflecting a change in emphasis for larger attendance; the pre-primary children's story hour continued to be restricted to pre-registration, since it was difficult to handle more than 15 pre-schoolers at one time. "Sunday Afternoon Travels", in the spring opened with "Rome -- the Eternal City" by Prof. John R. Workman. "Playing Around the Matterhorn was the subject of Mr. Willard Van Houten's talk. Mr. Jack Dawson entertained with, "Southeast Asia and New Zealand". In May David Macaulay author and illustrator, spoke on his latest book, "City, a Story of -Roman Planning". The library sponsored an August summer art show with pen and ink drawings by Dean A. Kent, of Chepachet.


The spring series of "Sunday Afternoon Travels" began with "Iberia -- the Spanish Peninsula" by George Potier, of Providence. This was followed by "Banff and Lake Louise" by L. Dexter Aldrich and then by "Russia -- Iand of Mystery" by Jack Dawson. In May Mario Paolini presented a slide show with commentary, entitled "Mile-stones in the Development of Painting". During the summer two exhibits of photographs were given by Gordon E. Rowley, of Johnston and by Wilfred Anderton, of Chepachet. Two slide shows were presented in the fall: "Southern England" by Shirley and Russsell Steere, and "Peru" by Jack Dawson. It was during this year that the Greenville Grange presented the old Greenville school bell to the library for safe-keeping.


This was a very full year for activities, "Sunday Afternoons at the Library" spring series included "The Middle East" by George Potier, of Providence; "Jugoslavia" by Mildred and Ralph Carlson; and "Development of American Art" by Mario Paolini. In January there was a photograph exhibit by David R. Muerdter, and in February Mrs. Jeanne Martin Chimani provided an exhibit of her art work. Also in February a study-discussion group was initiated on "Great Decisions". In April the East Smithfield Public Library was co-sponsor with Greenville of an illustrated lecture "Down by the Old Mill Stream -- What to Look for in Industrial Architecture" presented by Michael Zuckerman of the Rhode Island Historical Society. This event waa held at East Smithfield Recreation Hall. An art show was held in May exhibiting the paintings of Mrs. Arlene Birtwell, of North Scituate. During the summer art work by Miss Margaret Fogarty of Glocester was on display. The fall series included two slide shows, "Buon Giorno, Bella Napoli" by Robert Burford, Iibrarian of the Marion Mohr Library, in Johnston, and "The Patchwork of the Baltic" by Prof. John R. Workman. "Christmas in Words and Music" was sponsored jointly with the East Smithfield Public Library, with Calvin Tillotson giving poetry, readings and Dylan Thomas' "A Child's Christmas in Wales", and the Lincoln Lambrequins, T. James Hallan, director, providing the music.


In April Mrs. Anne Allen presented a slide show on "Africa." A week later the Smithfield Junior High School presented an "Arts and Music Festival"' under the leadership pf Rory F. Marcaccio, Art Department, and Dennis St. Germain, band director, with art exhibits inside the library and a band concert in the parking lot. On April 30, the Smithfield High School Savoyards, Jane Calderara, director, presented "Bits and Pieces of Gilbert and Sullivan" to an appreciative audience. In May art work of Ruth A. Joslin, of North Scituate, was on display in the library.


"Sunday Afternoon at the Library" opened in February with a film narrated by Orson Wells, entitled "Tut, the Boy King." "Festiva; of Ruthenberg" was presented by Norris G. Abbott, Jr., of Providence, in March. In April Mr. and Mrs. Moore showed slides to illustrate "British Stately Homes and Castles." The second annual Smithfield Junior High School Arts Festival was held on April 29, with Miss Marcaccio and Mr. St. Germain in charge.


The spring series of "Sunday Afternoons at the Library" included "Alaska: the Inner Passage" by Mildred and Ralph Carlson, "The Pacific States" by Shirley and Russell Steere, and "Be It Ever So Humble - Pleasures and Palaces" by Prof. John R. Workman. In May the third annual Arts and Music Festival by the Smithfield Junior High School was held. This was followed by the first "Art in the Elementary Schools, Smithfield" exhibited in every available space in the library. in connection with the 250th anniversary of the Town of Smithfield the library presented Walter Nebeker, of the Rhode Island Historical Preservation Commission, at the Smithfield High School, whose illustrated talk was entitled "Historic Smithfield." The fall services of "Sunday Afternoons at the Library" began with "Australia - the Land Down Under" by George E. Levesque and was followed in November by "Pathways of the Pilgrims" presented by Alden C. Saunders, of North Scituate.


Wilfred Anderton, of Chepachet, a collector of Norman Rockwell memorabilia, exhibited some of his collection in the library in February. In March Mildred and Ralph Carlson showed pictures of Egypt. The fourth annual Smithfield Junior High School Arts and Music Festival featured art exhibits and a band concert by its music students. Late in May a reception for Miss Fay Zipkowitz, newly appointed director of the Department of State Library Services, was held in the library.

In addition to these major activities listed above and in the previous chapter, one should not ignore the many other events that have been sponsored by the library. For the children there have been many attractions, including not only the regular story hours, but also performances by the Looking Glass Theatre, puppet shows, special children's films and summer reading programs with appropriate prizes. The exhibit case in the north hallway has had a variety of displays, changed monthly; some have been allied to special programs, some of a seasonal nature, and some reflecting collecting interests of library patrons. Numerous individuals have cooperated to share their interests. The bubble display case in the childrens room has been a source of inspiration and excited attention, particularly when a friend's special collection has been exhibited. The bulletin board in the children's room has been the focus of interest during the summer reading programs.

A sampling of library statistics for this period are given below:



Number of patrons


















The circulation for 1980/81 dropped below the previous year for the first time in this period, due largely to a reduction in library hours of service. This had been occasioned by a cut by the Town Council in the amount requested for fiscal 1980/81. It had therefore become necessary to eliminate Thursday evening, hours and also Saturday afternoon hours during July and August.

In September 1981 Thursday evening hours were restored, for a total of 43 hours per week, but in January 1982 the days of opening were shifted to eliminate Mondays but adding Fridays, due to the energy situation. Presently the library is still open 41 hours per week --Tuesdays - Thursdays 10-5, 7-9, Fridays 10-7, and Saturdays 10-5.

In August 1975 the library received word that by the will of the late Dr. Sarah Sweet Winsor it was one of several residuary, heirs. Dr. Windsor, a well-known practicing physician, had lived in Greenville for many years and had been lst Vice-president of the library board 1932-1937. In March 1976 the sum of $49,876.24 was added to the treasury. This money has been invested so that its dividends are utilized as an income source for the operation of the library.

In recounting the history of the library, one should not omit mentioning the importance of the supporting staff, who preside at the several public desks and perform the numerous housekeeping chores professional and clerical. This survey has mentioned generally only the librarians in charge, and it is impractical in this brief history to list all the persons who have served the library clientele since 1956 when the new building was erected. Currently the library staff consists of two full-time professional librarians, one full-time semi-professional staff member, seven part-time people, two library aides and four volunteers. Grateful acknowledgment should be made to a number of volunteers, trustees and others, who have served many hours in augmenting the work of the full-time and part-time staff. There have been many, but special mention should be made of Elizabeth Baker (who has faithfully filed cards in the catalogs for over twenty years), of Jean (Betty) Lockwood (who has assisted at many of the Library Forums"), of Louise W. Moore (who planned and organized many of the special programs sponsored by the library), and of Leona Wilson (who has assisted in so many ways, but especially aiding Mrs. Steere in connection with the pre-primary story hours.

In recognition of present-day library service, the writer feels that the following statistics are noteworthy. These are for the year 1980/8l, the latest tabulation available:

103 films were borrowed from the Rhode Island Film Cooperative for the benefit of local churches, nursing homes, clubs, and other groups, without any cost to these groups.

1,206 requests for interlibrary loans were made and the Northern Interrelated Library System filled 993 of them, as well as providing answers to 175 reference questions.

64 story hours for school-age children and 38 for pre-school children were held, with a total attendance of 1,813 children. In addition there were a number of special events for children, including a summer reading program in which 445 children participated.

13 programs for adults were held during, the year -- Tuesday Library - Forums and Sunday afternoon programs.

A Junior High School Arts Festival attracted more than 300 people.

The library has been fortunate that the Town Council and the citizens of Smithfield have been sympathetic, and appreciative, and responsive to library service in the town. Town appropriations for library service have continued to increase, to meet the rising, costs of books and other materials for staff and for building maintenance -- and not only for Greenville but also for the East Smithfield Public Library. Some town appropriations for the Greenville Library are as follows:

1966/67 $13,690.00

1968/69 $23,500.00

1973/71 $37,269.00

1977/78 $51,293.00

1980/81 $63,367.00

1981/82 $71,367.00

John P. Gallagher, who was President for 1966/67, was succeeded by the following:

1967-1970 Mrs. Louise W. Moore

1970-1973 Dr. Joseph Katz

1973-1976 Mr. Kingsley Whipple

1976-1978 Mr. Kay K. Moore

1978-1982 Mr. Kingsley Whipple