Lit Geek takes on the Redwood Library

5 Apr

Inside the Reading Room at the Redwood Library.

A visit to the Redwood Library? Well that’s a Lit Geek’s dream come true! For a literature workshop at my school, a small group of students toured the literary and historic areas of Newport, RI, the first place to start–this beautiful historic library.

Established in 1747 by Abraham Redwood and his associates, the Redwood is the first library in Rhode Island and the oldest lending library in the United States.

The Redwood's card catalouge.

During our tour of the Redwood, we had the opportunity to see some pretty ancient books.  One book was from the 14th century; bound in leather and studded with metal, most of us thought of the magic book from Disney’s “Hocus Pocus.”

Our tour demonstrated the Redwood’s consistent (and historic) pursuit of education in Newport, RI. In the days of Borders and, it’s difficult for us to understand how important books, literacy and access to written material was to colonists in Newport. For the most part, books in this library weren’t necessarily for pleasure reading. Many volumes were nonfiction, for example medical books proved rather useful in the 1700’s.

A cozy seat in the Redwood's Reading Room.

Sadly, during the Revolutionary War, the British soldiers sabotaged the library, and most of the volumes went missing. Since then, the Redwood has managed to obtain over 90% of the original collection, which encompassed about a thousand volumes. That is certainly an impressive statistic.

If you’re interested in visiting, the Redwood Library is located on Bellevue Avenue in Newport, RI; it would be a perfect addition to the mansion tours. Visit for more information.

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