The Narragansett Library Association (NLA) served as the governing and administrative body for the Peace Dale Library from 1855-1975. Its origins date to 1853, when the local Sons of Temperance voted to raise funds for a library. A wider community effort soon led to the founding of the NLA in 1855.
Its first reading room opened with 900 books in a bank building on Main Street. Not long afterwards, the NLA moved to the Peace Dale Office Building, where it remained for over 30 years as its collection grew.
In 1891, the newly opened Hazard Memorial (now known as Peace Dale Library) became the NLA’s permanent home. Built in memory of Rowland Gibson Hazard (1801-1888), an NLA founder and its first president, it provided a reading room, an auditorium, classrooms, and space for an envisioned 20,000 volumes (about four times what the NLA then owned).
Peace Dale Library still circulates many original NLA books, which are now shelved as a separate collection.
Leadership of the NLA rested with the Hazard family until 1962, and the will of Rowland Hazard (1829-1898) left a permanent fund for the benefit of the Association. The NLA still exists as a registered Rhode Island corporation.
In 1975, governance of the Peace Dale Library passed from the NLA to the newly created South Kingstown Public Library. That year, the South Kingstown Town Council voted to establish a town-wide free public library system consisting of Peace Dale Library and two branches, Kingston Free and Robert Beverly Hale, and governed by a 7-member Board of Trustees appointed by the Council.
The Narragansett Library Association bears no relation to the public library in the Town of Narragansett.