It is incorporated as a non-profit organization under the Internal Revenue Code (501c3). As of 2007, there were 49 public library systems operating from 73 locations, and one school library. All RI residents have access to a OSL library in their own communities.
OSL was founded in 1982 as the Cooperating Libraries Automated Network (CLAN) for the purpose of sharing a single library automation system with a common patron database for circulation of library materials. In the ensuing twenty-five years, OSL has grown dramatically. In addition to the circulation system, OSL now offers a shared MARC bibliographic database, an on-line public access catalog, inter-library loan through system-wide holds (reserves), a consortium-wide telecommunications network with Internet access, and on-line access to periodical indexes and full-text databases. OSL uses the RINET communications network to connect to the Internet. OSL also uses the LORI delivery system of OLIS to carry library materials among its members. In 2007, CLAN changed its name to Ocean State Libraries.
In the beginning, OSL was managed almost entirely by the Providence Public Library. Since incorporating in 1993, the management and policy making functions of OSL have passed from Providence to the general OSL membership.
Funding for most OSL computer and telecommunications equipment has been generously supplied by the Champlin Foundations. OSL’s operating budget comes entirely from fees paid by its members.Print