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University Libraries

Last updated: 4/18/13

About the University Libraries

The University Libraries consist of the Robert L. Carothers Library and Learning Commons in Kingston, the URI Providence Campus Library, and the Pell Marine Science Library in Narragansett.

The Robert L. Carothers Library and Learning Commons functions as the main library in the University Libraries system. It is located on the main campus of the University of Rhode Island in Kingston and sits in the center of campus a short distance from the northwest corner of the Quadrangle. The Library was founded in 1892 and occupied all or part of seven buildings on the campus before moving to its present location in 1964. In 1976, a two-floor addition was constructed, and in 1993 the present structure was completed, with shelf space for 1.4 million volumes and seating for 1300 readers. In 2000, a Mezzanine storage facility was created on Level 3 to house archival materials and lesser-used serial volumes, alleviating crowded conditions in the Lower Level stacks. In May 2009 the building was named in honor of Robert L. Carothers, URI President from 1991 to 2009. In 2011 and 2012, a section of the building was renovated to create a state of the art learning commons facility for fostering undergraduate peer learning and collaboration.

The College of Continuing Education Campus Library is housed in the newly renovated, historic Shepard Building in downtown Providence. The CCE Library has supported the information needs of College of Continuing Education students since 1945.

The Pell Marine Science Library, located on the University’s Narragansett Bay Campus, opened in 1968. The Pell Library provides resources and services that support the instructional and research programs at the Bay Campus. The collection emphasizes oceanography, marine biology, fisheries, atmospheric chemistry, and coastal and estuarine habitats.

Collectively, the University Libraries hold over 1.1 million books and receive 8,000 current periodicals. Holdings of government documents, audio/visual materials, computer files, manuscripts, archives, maps, nautical charts, and microforms amount to nearly 2.3 million additional items. (Additional library statistics are available elsewhere on this site.)

The University Libraries house a number of specialized collections. The Special Collections Unit in the University Library contains the University Archives; the Rhode Island Collection of materials on Rhode Island history; a Rare Book Collection containing general interest books as well as those organized around a particular theme, subject, or author; a Manuscript Collection of personal papers and records of businesses and organizations of Rhode Island interest; and a collection of local history interviews on various aspects of Rhode Island life in the twentieth century. The University Library is also a depository for federal and state government publications.

The National Sea Grant Library is housed in the Pell Marine Science Library and is a cooperative venture of the University of Rhode Island and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). It was founded in 1971 and has 72,000 documents in its archives and lending library. Other special collections at the Pell Library include the scientific reports of major oceanographic and polar expeditions since 1873.

The Libraries’ collections can be searched through the HELIN library catalog, the shared public access catalog of the Higher Education Library Information Network of Rhode Island. HELIN includes the libraries of the University of Rhode Island, Bryant College, the Community College of Rhode Island, Johnson & Wales University, Providence College, Rhode Island College, Roger Williams University, and Salve Regina University. Students and faculty at these institutions enjoy reciprocal borrowing privileges. HELIN runs on an Innovative Interfaces system. Access to a number of major databases and full-text digital publications is offered through the web pages of the University Libraries.

The libraries provide a wide range of services. Research help is available from professional librarians in person and by phone, IM, text messaging, and e-mail. There are several learning labs used for teaching of the University Libraries’ information literacy program in which librarians instruct students in the use of information resources. Computers are available in public areas for research and general use.

The Library also houses the University’s Information and Instructional Technology Services department which maintains the Student Computing Facility, of approximately 100 workstations for student, staff, and faculty use. There are copying/ printing/scanning machines located throughout the building.

The University Library is fully accessible to the disabled and is open to the public. Any Rhode Island resident age 18 or older may borrow material from the Libraries, which are open approximately 100 hours a week. More information on the Libraries’ access policies is available.

The University Libraries are active participants in the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), the Consortium of Rhode Island Academic and Research Libraries (CRIARL), the HELIN consortium, New England Library Information Network (NELINET), Online Computer Library Center (OCLC), and the Rhode Island Library and Information Network (RHILINET).

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