The Cranston Public Library system was formed in 1968 when six independent neighborhood libraries came together as one library system. CPL currently has a Central Library and five neighborhood branches.
1888 - The Auburn Public Library opens as the Auburn Public Library Association. It opens in a little store on the northeast corner of Wellington Avenue with a collection of between 500-1000 volumes.
1895 - The Arlington Library opens in the neighborhood district hall with a collection of 500 volumes.
1896 - Oak Lawn Library opens in a building that was formerly a school house.
1897 - The Edgewood Public Library opens on March 13, 1897 with a collection of 800 volumes in a small school at Park and Warwick Avenues. On November 4, 1897, the library moves into a new building on Norwood Avenue near Broad Street.
1907 - The Arlington Library moves to new Cranston Street Building. Arlington also adds a branch in the Cranston Print Works Brick Store which lasted for fifty years until the building was razed.
1927 - Knightsville Library opens in a store front.
1927 - On November 13, 1927 the William H. Hall Free Library opens to the public. The Hall Library replaces the Edgewood Public Library.
1932 - The Thornton Library opens in a store front. The library would move several times over its history to different locations on Plainfield Pike.
1960s - The Cranston City Council commissions a study by Kenneth Shaffer of Simmons College in 1965 to craft recommendations for library development in the city. Based on the Shaffer report and in accordance with RI law, the City Council establishes the Cranston Public Library system in 1966. The six neighborhood libraries are invited to join. In 1968 the Oak Lawn Library becomes the first of to join. James Giles is appointed the first Library Director in 1968.
1962 - Knightsville Library moves into its new location at 1847 Cranston Street on land donated by the estate of Gerard Ruggieri.
1966 - In celebration of its 75th anniversary as a library, an addition is put onto the Oak Lawn Library.
1977 - The Thornton library branch is closed when the City Council refuses to fund the $4000 appropriation needed to run the facility.
1980s - The 1980s brought on a decade of major library development and renovation. The Central Library is opened in 1983 on Sockanosset Cross Road and becomes the administrative center of the library system.
1987 - In an agreement with the city of Cranston, The Arlington Library building on Cranston Street is turned over to the city and demolished to build a new Cranston Senior Center. The agreement calls for the Arlington Reading Room to be located inside the new Center.
1989 - The William Hall Library receives an extensive and much-needed renovation.
1990s - The wave of library development in Cranston continues in the early 1990s. The Oak Lawn branch experiences expansion and renovation in 1990. A new Auburn branch building is constructed in 1991. An addition to the Central Library is completed in 1993. James Giles retires in 1994 after 26 years as Library Director. David Macksam is appointed Library Director in 1995.
2000s - The explosion of personal computers, the Internet and associated technologies saw major changes come to the library. CPL begins offering free use of public computers and wireless Internet access. In 2006 a $900,000 bond initiative is passed to complete major infrastructure projects throughout the library system.
2012 - David Macksam retires as Library Director; Edward Garcia is appointed as CPL's third Library Director.
2013 - The Arlington Reading Room at the Cranston Senior Center is renovated using federal funds into the new Arlington Branch Library with new collections and updated technology.
2014 - A $1.2 million bond initiative is passed to complete major infrastructure projects throughout the library system.
2015 - "The C Lab" opens at the Central Library after a renovation of the reference department using funds from the Champlin Foundations. The C Lab is the library's multi-use digital media learning space.
2016 - The Cranston Public Library is awarded the LibraryAware Community Award, Third Place. This national award recognizes model communities that engage with their libraries to improve the lives of their citizens and create life-long learners and library users. CPL was honored along with the Louisville (KY) Public Library and New York Public Library.
2017 - A renovated and enlarged children's room was opened at the Central Library. This two year long project was the first enhancement to the children's room since the building opened in 1983. The new room is a whimsical space that features many areas for spontaneous reading and play. The renovation was completed with funds by the Champlin Foundation of City of Cranston Impact Fees.
2018 - In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the formation of the Cranston Public Library system; the meeting room at the Central Library was dedicated and renamed the James T. Giles Community Room in honor of the first Library Director James T. Giles. The Arlington library branch was dedicated and renamed The Edward Costa Memorial Arlington Branch in honor of longtime trustee and library advocate Edward Costa.