Founded in 1888, the Richards Free Library serves as the public library for the Town of Newport, New Hampshire. The library is located in a 1899 house that is listed on the National Historic Register and sits across the street from the town common. The library provides public library services to the Town of Newport and the surrounding area, and meeting spaces on its second and third floors; one of them a restored ballroom. The entire facility has free wireless internet access.
In 1955 the library established the Sarah Josepha Hale Award which is given annually to honor writers with a connection to New England. Recipients have included Robert Frost, Arthur Miller, Jill Ker Conway and Ellen Goodman. The 2007 winner is New Hampshire’s own Tomie dePaola.
In 1967 the trustees established the Newport Library Arts Center as a gallery and studio space for the visual and performing arts in the former carriage house. Changing art exhibits, lectures and performances take place in the two galleries on the main floor and a basement studio equipped with kiln, pottery wheels, dark room and easels houses space for art classes.