Barbara Donnelly – Leaving After 40 Years on the Library Board of Trustees

Trustee Chair Greg Jones presents Barbara with a proclamation honoring her retirement.


Congratulations to Barbara Donnelly after serving 40 years on the Library Board of Trustees, with 26 of those years as Chair. Barbara's dedication and perseverance led to the construction of the new library, which has been called the "Crown Jewel of the Rhode Island Library System". She began the process of investigating a location for a new town library in 1987, and shepherded the fundraising and building process culminating in the creation of this beautiful building so beloved by its patrons. She was also actively involved with the remodeling of the Union Library in 1985.  She also worked tirelessly with local and state officials to shape the library into what it is today—a modern well-run professional library and a crucial asset to the town.

Best of luck to Barbara in her retirement; this town would be a different place with out your hard work and determination. The Board of Trustees, Director and Staff wish Barbara all the best as she seeks new adventures in the years to come.

Below is her resignation letter to the Town Council.

November 18, 2017

Denise DeMedeiros, Council President
Tiverton Town Council
343 Highland Road
Tiverton, RI 02878

Dear Ms DeMedeiros,

After over forty years of service, I am resigning from the Tiverton Public Library Board of Trustees as of the end of this calendar year. I was appointed in July of 1977 when my two older sons were small children and my third son had not as yet been born. All of them grew up with me going to meetings at least once a month and often several times a month. During my time on the Board I served as Secretary, Vice-Chairman and Chairman, and worked with eleven different library directors and 33 different trustees. Regardless of who the library director was or who was on the Board we all worked hard for this town and tried to make our library the best that it can be.

To illustrate how times have changed, when I first started, Lee Hawkins who had fought in WWI was treasurer and he often wrote his report in pencil. Union Library was heated by a kerosene heater and there was no rest room; Mrs. Snell would walk home if she needed to use a rest room. In 1985 we were able to get a grant from the Champlin Foundation to enlarge and modernize Union Library. This grant was matched by federal money for which we’d applied. This enabled us to add the children's room and a handicapped restroom as well as remove the dropped ceiling. The old shelves which had been handmade by various people and were various shapes and sizes were replaced by “new shelving” which we were able to get for free from Barrington which was moving into a new library. It was a great improvement and continues as a cornerstone at Four Corners.

Our greatest challenge was building a new library which the state required us to do in order to keep library service in Tiverton. With thousands of hours of work and meetings, and the support of the town we were able to accomplish what some thought was impossible. Our town library has been called “the jewel of the state library system” and turned out to be all that we’d hoped. It’s something of which I’ll always be proud. I hope the town will continue to support the library so that it can maintain and expand the services our community desires and deserves.

It has been a pleasure to serve.

Yours truly,

Barbara R. Donnelly