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Libraries Without Borders

The Connecticut State Library partnered with Libraries Without Borders US to build deeper and more authentic connections between libraries and community.

Pilot Project Overview

The Connecticut State Library, for the last year, has partnered with Libraries Without Borders US (LWB), the American branch of the global NGO Bibliothèques Sans Frontières that delivers knowledge and information to communities in crisis. LWB US has worked to assist people experiencing challenges caused by the digital divide, communities living in book deserts, and those who, for various reasons, do not feel comfortable accessing their local libraries. 

For a year LWB conducted community assessment reviews in the surrounding areas of each of six public libraries identified by the State Library - David M. Hunt (Falls Village/Canaan), East Hartford, Norwalk, Otis (Norwich), West Haven, and Willimantic. Each review details a comprehensive understanding of the city/town, surrounding areas, and the library’s role within the community in order to answer the following questions:

  • How does the library support community needs?
  • In what ways can the library further support community needs?
  • Who does not currently access the services and resources of the library?
  • What barriers exist to library access?
  • How might the library sustainably expand its outreach efforts?

In order to get a comprehensive understanding of the communities and the roles of the libraries within their communities, LWB used a robust, mixed-methods data collection process that leverages quantitative and qualitative research methods using both primary and secondary data. The primary data collected included surveys, interviews, observations, focus groups, and community conversations. The secondary data collected included government and institutional records, past research studies, library statistics and records, and publicly available sources, as well as library program offerings, engagement rates, newsletter/website/social media efficacy, and other community resource offerings in each service area.

LWB, in partnership with each library, worked together to execute activities and strategies to better connect them to their community based on analysis of the data collected. Each initiative was tailored to the capacity of the library and the needs of their community.

Panel Presentation: Enhancing Library Capacity & Growing Community Connections

This panel presentation features the CT State Library and Libraries Without Borders US along with representatives from the six pilot libraries that participated in a year-long project highlighting unique ways libraries can grow their reach and sustainably connect community members to their resources. Each of the six libraries had the opportunity to use local community and library assessment data to design and implement creative, relevant outreach solutions. From a refreshed delivery van turned bookmobile to satellite library stations to community-driven storytelling pathways, these projects worked to build trust and grow habits that deepen library connections for new and existing users.

Pilot CT Public Libraries:

  • David M. Hunt Library (Falls Village)
  • East Hartford Public Library
  • Willimantic Public Library (Windham)
  • Norwalk Public Library
  • West Haven Public Library
  • Otis Library (Norwich)


This project is funded by the State of Connecticut and the Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, administered by the Connecticut State Library. 

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