Aspen Institute Issues Report on Outcomes Following the State-wide Dialogue on Connecticut's Public Libraries

Jan 27, 2016, 10:00 ET from The Aspen Institute

WASHINGTON, Jan. 27, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Aspen Institute, in collaboration with the Connecticut State Library, is releasing a report, Connecticut Rising to the Challenge: A Report of the Connecticut Dialogue on Public Libraries, based on the dialogue held at the Connecticut State Capitol in Hartford on Monday, April 13, 2015.

"Libraries across the state of Connecticut provide critical assets to meet the changing needs of the communities they serve while faced with significant fiscal challenges," says Amy Garmer, Director, Dialogue on Public Libraries, The Aspen Institute. "We are pleased to be working with our partners at the Connecticut State Library and several of the state's public libraries to nurture and grow a series of dialogues in Connecticut to advance library partnerships with community, philanthropic, educational, government and other organizations that will create opportunities and strengthen outcomes for residents and their communities. Connecticut's leadership on re-envisioning the role of public libraries provides a model for dialogue and action in other states."

The dialogue, a partnership between the Aspen Institute Dialogue on Public Libraries and Connecticut State Library, brought together a distinguished group of thought leaders who focused on a variety of discussions that highlighted issues and opportunities for libraries and their communities.

"The role of public libraries in communities across the state continues to expand as needs increase," explains Kendall Wiggin, State Librarian, Connecticut State Library. "The dialogue helped focused on how to leverage the assets of our state's public libraries to build more knowledgeable, healthy and sustainable communities across the state, and how to improve the sustainability of public libraries in Connecticut. The report that is being released today outlines these discussions along with the steps we will be taking moving forward."

A Path Forward

The following are the action steps recommended by participants in the Connecticut Dialogue. These recommendations provide a blueprint for further action by the Connecticut State Library, individual public libraries, library and community leaders and their partners in the months ahead:

  1. Create a working group to coordinate next steps.
  2. Develop an asset-based framework that defines the essential elements of library service and establishes library standards.
  3. Engage policy makers.
  4. Leverage statewide partnerships to broaden library effectiveness and promote collaboration.
  5. Develop data and narrative around the outcomes achieved by public libraries in Connecticut.
  6. Tell the Connecticut library story through marketing, advocacy, dialogue, statewide engagement, and leadership. 
  7. Explore opportunities for leadership development and training.
  8. Become statewide library champions.

A luncheon keynote was delivered by Governor Dannel Malloy, and the following individuals participated in the daylong convening (titles reflect title held on the date of the Connecticut Dialogue event):

Maxine Bleiweis, Executive Director, The Westport Library
John Dankosky, WNPR News Director/Host, Where We Live, WNPR
Liz Donohue, Director of Policy, Office of the Governor
Christopher Drake, Deputy General Counsel, Office of the Governor
Charlie Firestone, Executive Director, Communications & Society Program, The Aspen Institute
Amy Garmer, Director, Aspen Institute Dialogue on Public Libraries 
Elliot Ginsberg, President and CEO, Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology
Glenn Grube, Director, Avon Free Public Library
Mayor Toni Harp, City of New Haven
Kim A. Healey, Executive Director, NewAlliance Foundation
Susan Hildreth, Fellow, Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program
James Horan, Executive Director, Connecticut Association of Human Services
Senator Tony Hwang, Connecticut State Senate
Juanita James, President & CEO, Fairfield County's Community Foundation
Dawn La Valle, President, Connecticut Library Association
Mayor Marcia A. Leclerc, City of East Hartford
Peter Lent, Assistant Executive Director, Office of Business Development, Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development
Estela López, Interim Provost & Senior VP Academic & Student Affair, Connecticut State Colleges and Community Colleges, and Senior Associate, Excelencia in Education
Jo-Ann LoRusso, Library Director, Middlebury Public Library
Zola Maddison, Program Officer, Global Libraries Program, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Betsy McIlvaine, President, Association of Connecticut Library Boards
Dennis Murphy, Deputy Commissioner, Connecticut Department of Labor
Maryann Ott, Associate Director, NewAlliance Foundation
Frances Padilla, President, Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut
Matt Poland, Chief Executive Officer, Hartford Public Library
Tom Scheinfeldt, Director of Digital Humanities, Digital Media Center, University of Connecticut
Edward St. John, First Selectman, Town of Middlebury
Rep. Jonathan Steinberg, Connecticut House of Representatives
Maureen Sullivan, past president, American Library Association  
James Wadleigh, Chief Executive Officer, Access HealthCT
Dianna R. Wentzell, Interim Commissioner, Connecticut State Department of Education
Kendall Wiggin, State Librarian, Connecticut State Library

The detailed report can be found online and downloaded at

The Aspen Institute Dialogue on Public Libraries is a multi-stakeholder forum to explore and champion new thinking on US public libraries, with the goal of fostering concrete actions to support and transform public libraries for a more diverse, mobile and connected society. The Dialogue is managed by the Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program, which focuses on projects and initiatives that address the societal impact of communications and information technologies and provides a multidisciplinary venue for considered judgment on communications policy issues.

The Connecticut State Library is an Executive Branch agency of the State of Connecticut. The State Library provides a variety of library, information, archival, public records, museum, and administrative services for citizens of Connecticut, as well as for the employees and officials of all three branches of State government. The State Library also serves students, researchers, public libraries and town governments throughout the state. In addition, the State Library directs a program of statewide library development and administers the Library Services and Technology Act state grant. In conjunction with the Department of Higher Education, the State Library also administers

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland's Eastern Shore. It also has an office in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visit

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SOURCE The Aspen Institute