High Demand for Digital Library Services in Rhode Island

Contact Information:
Ocean State Libraries
Stephen Spohn



High Demand for Digital Library Services in Rhode Island

Libraries are busier than they’ve ever been right now.

While public library buildings are closed, Rhode Island’s public libraries continue to offer vital 24/7 digital services to their communities.  Through their public libraries and AskRI, public libraries have access to digital books, magazines and newspapers and a wealth of online learning tools.  From the comfort of home, Rhode Island residents have full access to:

  • 125,000+ ebooks and digital audiobooks in Ocean State Libraries’ eZone.
  • Encyclopedias for all ages, including
  • English and Spanish editions in AskRI
  • Millions of full text articles for students and online learners in AskRI.
  • Online learning tools to learn a language or to prepare for a test in AskRI

Access all these resources are more via the Ocean State Libraries website: www.oslri.org.

Library card sign-ups have increased by 167%!  Prior to this crisis, OSL received an average of 9 applications each day.  Since public library buildings closed, this average has grown to 24 applications each day with a recent high of 55 applications on March 23!

Ebook and digital audiobook use has increased by 23%!  Ocean State Libraries’ eZone is seeing a large spike in new users and ebook use.  Comparing the last 7 days against the first week of March, OSL has seen a 23% increase in circulation and a 255% increase in new users.

AskRI [www.askri.org] provides free online resources for Rhode Islanders. Mango Languages has courses to learn over 70 languages, and 19 English as a Second Language courses. Learning Express includes free test preparation - for SATs, various graduate school entrance exams, professional certification, and citizenship (in English and Spanish).

New digital resources are on the way, too!  Stay tuned for news at oslri.org and AskRI.org about exciting new resources that will become available statewide soon.  Many individual public libraries are also working on new digital resources, too. Check your local library website to see what’s available today and what’s on the way!


To find online learning and enrichment resources from Ocean State Libraries and AskRI, visit https://olis-ri.libguides.com/online/home


Rhode Island public libraries have plans to offer library programs digitally!  Just a small selection in the works include:


Ocean State Libraries Executive Director Stephen Spohn states, “This event underscores the essential roles that libraries play in the fabric of American society.  Libraries empower learning, community and imagination. Today, libraries are reaching out to their communities with digital story times, digital book clubs and other digital programs to help communities to come together when the events of the day are keeping us all apart.”

Ocean State Libraries President and Barrington Public Library Director Kristen Chin states, “Barrington Public’s tagline is ‘Where you belong,’ so it feels wrong to close our doors and not welcome our patrons in, but this is exactly what your libraries need to do to keep the community safe.  Of course, that doesn’t mean we won’t find new ways to meet your needs in this current reality. Your librarians are hard at work to deliver the programs and services you enjoyed in person, but in new and exciting ways.”

Cranston Public Library Director Ed Garcia states, “The health of our library workers and our community is of the utmost importance. Unfortunately libraries are by design unable to practice social distancing to the degree being recommended by public health officials. Our amazing librarians are working on ways to deliver programs and services virtually as we all try to do our part in combating this outbreak.” 

Library Patron Susan Harrington from Cranston states, “Cranston Public Library has been a life-saver for me during this crisis.  Through their website, I can take advantage of so many resources safely from home.  They are making social distancing enjoyable. Thank you!”

Island Free Library Director Kristin Baumann reports, “Our virtual Story Time, Music Time and Kid Yoga programs were quite successful this week, with all positive reviews from viewers and loads of gratitude.  Last night, a Spanish translation of the local emergency declaration was broadcasted by the library to ensure that all members of the community understood the health and safety measures expected of residents. As always, the Island Free Library is committed to everyone’s well-being and will continue to educate, inform, engage and entertain patrons, lighting the way through these uncertain times.”

Langworthy Public Library Director Nomi Hague shares, “We have worked hard to position libraries as your community-centered home away from home, striving to meet the informational, recreational, and social needs of all who enter our spaces. That is why it is so frustrating for us to be unable to provide that hands-on exemplary service that makes libraries unique. During this crisis we are not only working hard to deliver services to you in new ways, but we are also cleaning and revamping our libraries, very much looking forward to welcoming you back as soon as possible.”

Rhode Island Office of Library and Information Services Chief Karen Mellor states, “The Office of Library and Information Services is working closely with Ocean State Libraries to provide Rhode Islanders with free access to online learning tools and authoritative, accurate information resources for students and life-long learners.  Now more than ever, libraries across the state are playing a critical role, providing creative solutions to move services online, and working together to provide Rhode Islanders with virtual access to the services and programs they depend on for reading, learning and recreation.”

For the latest information about Ocean State Libraries and COVID-19, visit us online at www.oslri.org.



About Ocean State Libraries

Ocean State Libraries (OSL) is a consortium of Rhode Island’s 48 public libraries and St. George’s School.  OSL coordinates a statewide catalog of library materials, digital content and future-ready technology services for its member libraries so they may better serve their patrons and communities.  Through their library’s membership in OSL and OSL’s partnership with the Rhode Island Office of Library & Information Services, library patrons have access to over six million books, movies and more, all available at or through their local public library.


About the Office of Library & Information Services

The Office of Library and Information Services is Rhode Island’s state library administrative agency. It provides support, resources and funding for libraries statewide to meet the library and information needs of all Rhode Islanders. The agency is part of the Rhode Island Department of Administration.

Posted in News & Announcements.