Postcard from the Providence Athenaeum

Postcard from the Providence Athenaeum

So first of all, I’d just like to discuss the word athenaeum. It’s really just a fancy word for library, but I swear, the amount of head space that I have devoted to this word in the past week is insane because I a) have no idea how to pronounce it to actually sound well-read and literate and b) have to double-check the spelling about a hundred million times because I have no way to sound it to help me spell it. But alas! It’s really just a fancy word for library, and Providence has basically the best one ever. The Providence Athenaeum Library in Rhode Island

The Providence Athenaeum Library is one of the oldest libraries in America: it was founded before the Constitution was even signed! Originally founded as the Providence Library Company in 1753, it became the Athenaeum and a independent, member-supported library open to the public in 1836. That basically means that although it operates as a non-profit and is open to the public to browse, books can only be checked out by members who pay annual dues to cover operating expenses. We went in for a wander (well, my boyfriend sat and read his Kindle as he warmed up from the cold–can you spot him in the picture above?) and I was completely enamored with the building and collection and the whole shebang. Bibliophile paradise!

The Providence Athenaeum Library in Rhode IslandThe Providence Athenaeum Library in Rhode IslandThe Providence Athenaeum Library in Rhode IslandThe Providence Athenaeum Library in Rhode IslandThe Providence Athenaeum Library in Rhode IslandThe Providence Athenaeum Library in Rhode IslandThis was a tourist guide to Paris in the 1940s! I have a weird interest in out-of-date guidebooks, especially to cities I know well–and this one was SO AMAZING. It was so neat to read about the Marais neighborhood and different streets that I know well–so, so, so much has changed over the last half century! The Providence Athenaeum Library in Rhode Island  The Providence Athenaeum Library in Rhode IslandWouldn’t this be a dream place to study?! The Providence Athenaeum Library in Rhode IslandWhat’s your favorite photo of the Providence Athenaeum? 


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  • Katherine Huff

    Love these! My favorites are the shot of the card catalog and the last photo. Great photos!

  • Lucy Larson

    Beautiful! I could spend an entire day here browsing and reading and browsing some more.

  • SincerelyKateB

    The last one! That natural light! So good!

  • Aryn (Driftwood & Daydreams)

    Hmm I’m guessing this word is derived from Athena, goddess of wisdom?? Fun new word! The second to last shot is lovely. I’d love to be there right now!

  • carissa inez

    so happy i found your blog!
    such an inspiration!


  • Maddie Deaton

    Love this, I could quite happily sit at one of those desks in the last photo indefinitely!

  • camorose

    Thanks! I loved the card catalog–most of it was written by hand in the early 1900s!

  • camorose

    Yes! Perfect place to take refuge on a snowy day.

  • camorose

    Dream library!

  • camorose

    Ohhhh yes! Goddess of wisdom–perfect!

  • camorose

    Glad you found it–enjoy!

  • camorose

    Right?! Such a perfect place to read.

  • Cathy Colbert

    Just like you – I love to read and I love libraries and bookstores. I’m adding this site to my bucket list. Thanks for pointing it out.

  • camorose

    Hooray! One of my favorite finds on the Northeast, it’s gorgeous!

  • Oh wow, I need to visit!

  • camorose

    It’s so good!

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  • Ha! I had no idea what an Athenaeum was, thanks for the definition! The Providence Library is one of my favorites. I live in NYC and I still haven’t found one that compares…or maybe I’m just nostalgic. 😉 But I love the authenticity of this old library, I haven’t been in years, but visiting it as a teenager always felt like a step back in time. Love your images of it.

  • camorose

    Have you been to the Morgan Library in NYC? It’s absolutely gorgeous! Although it’s a little different since it’s a private collection and not an actual library–but it’s still worth seeing if you love books!

  • I actually have been there! Haha, how could I not think to include that as a favorite library! I guess like you said, I was thinking of public libraries…but I love the Morgan!

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