The Rhode Island State House Visitor Center opened last December just down the hall from the Charter Museum. While the shop carries the expected assortment of postcards, prints, and state-themed tchotchkes, the bookshelves are overwhelmingly devoted to the works of “Historian Laureate”* Patrick T. Conley; I counted at least 15 different titles in large multiples. (Happily, “The People’s Martyr: Thomas Wilson Dorr and His 1842 Rhode Island Rebellion” by Erik Chaput is also available.)
I spoke with Stacy DiCola, director of public information for the office of the Secretary of State, about how the books had been selected, noting that there are many other interesting authors living in and writing about the state. DiCola explained that a Visitor Board subcommittee needed to acquire titles on consignment which limited their selections. They entered into an agreement with the Rhode Island Publications Society and selected 25 titles that they had been told would sell well. (Regarding profits from sales in the shop, DiCola told the Providence Journal last December that “The Rhode Island Publications Society, for example, will take about half the proceeds from books it has provided to the shop . . .”)
Ms. DiCola couldn’t have been more pleasant and helpful but she did neglect to mention one minor detail — the chairman of the Rhode Island Publications Society is Patrick T. Conley.
*The historian laureate position was created for/by Conley in 2012 following a seven year campaign by him. Check out his website for the saga of his “Elusive Quest.”
History by the yard.
1 thought on “Welcome To The Patrick T. Conley Book Barn”
I’ve met Mr. Conley. He’s personable, knowledgeable, and hard-working. It would be nice if he had more company on the shelves. A lot more.
BTW, is “Ten Things You Don’t Know About Rhode Island” by Tom Sgouros, Jr. in stock?