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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.

Project in Review: David M. Hunt Library

Photo of a group of adults in the snow outdoors gathered around a posted storyboard on the storytelling pathway at the David M. Hunt Library.In Falls Village, creating a storytelling pathway at the library provides an opportunity to build on existing connections between the David M. Hunt Library and its local residents. The pathway amplifies the voices of community groups and community members, celebrates a diversity of experiences and perspectives, and connects local stories directly to the resources and offerings at the library.

Inside the library, staff reimagined the physical spaces to create more flexibility for larger meetings, individual workspaces, and library programming, and took on a deep weeding of the collection. With the new design in place, there are opportunities for the community to use the space more productively as well as discover and engage more effectively with library resources, including the fresh and intentional displays showcasing diverse content for a broad audience.

Data Sources

  • 43 community stakeholder interviews and in-depth interviews with library staff
  • Infrastructure mapping of identified stakeholders, organizations, meeting places, and pillars of the Falls Village community
  • Connecticut State Library data, American Community Survey Census data, Advance CT reports, and CT Data Collaborative information used to gather community demographic information

Key Findings

  1. A centerpiece of the Falls Village community, library visits per capita at David M. Hunt are over three times higher than the state average. With 43% of residents holding a library card, overall library participation is high. Usage among youth (ages 5-20) and young adults (ages 20-44) is lower than other segments of the population. At 72%, adults above the age of 20 account for a large majority of the population; meanwhile, children under 5 make up the smallest subset at 4%. The vast majority of children’s programs cater to those 0-5.
  2. The building’s physical beauty and history are widely seen as assets within the community, yet some of the most promising spaces remain underutilized. Community members express interest for individual and communal work spaces, and library staff identify the need to create multi-functional spaces that support a wide range of needs.
  3. The Hunt Library has long been positioned as a place of connection, learning, and discussion. Community members seek opportunities to better understand one another, share perspectives, and engage in important and difficult conversations about race, socioeconomic status, political beliefs, and other issues.

Outreach Strategies

  • Community Storytelling Pathway
  • Multi-functional Space Development
  • Collection Audit and Optimization


Increased Opportunity for Community Engagement / Addition of a Storytelling Pathway

“Village Voices: A Community Storytelling Pathway” is a newly established physical and digital experience for the Falls Village community - elevating the voices and stories of community members and groups. Its intention, highlighting diverse perspectives and experiences of community members, brings people together to engage with personal and global topics. Each element of the storytelling pathway connects to internal library displays, highlighting resources that support additional learning opportunities in relation to pathway topics and themes. In the implementation of the Village Voices pathway, Hunt Library has expanded its connections with local organizations like the Falls Village Equity Group and created opportunities for community members to share their stories. The library director notes that the connection between the pathway and library resources has already generated more foot traffic and more general use of the library.

Increased Multi-Function Space

The redesign within the library focused on increasing opportunities for community members to better utilize the space and engage with library resources. It created opportunities for larger meetings and individual workspaces and increased the amount of space that can be flexibly used for programming. The design significantly increased the functionality of four unique library spaces, including the first floor’s main adult area and children’s area and the second floor’s main room and a smaller, more private room. Additionally, the clean up and restructuring of the administrative areas has created more effective work spaces and an overall improved aesthetic. Community members have consistently and effusively commented and appreciated how opening up each space has created a more inviting environment - one that can be used more readily and flexibly. There are new opportunities for community groups to host meetings, for residents to use the space for individual work, and for differentiated programming to take place, opening up opportunities for new demographics to utilize the library.

Prioritized Collection and Highlighted Diverse Content

An audit and subsequent weeding of the collection allowed the library to prioritize its offerings and remove irrelevant materials, creating room for intentional resource displays that connect to a wide audience and showcase diverse content. This also allows patrons to more readily access relevant and interesting materials. The library director notes that weeding the collection with such depth has created a sustainable path for upkeep. While historically, community members have browsed the stacks at Hunt only when looking for a specific resource, the newly prioritized collection has the opportunity to invite people to browse more readily. It allows the library to stay up to date on topics and resources most pertinent to the community and to display them in more inviting and appealing ways, which ultimately supports increased collection usage.

Next Steps for Sustainable Implementation

  • Promote and consistently utilize multi-functional spaces to meet ongoing community needs; continue to assess utilization and make adjustments to support usage
  • Update and promote storytelling pathway with relevant content from within the community; continue to foster relationships with community groups and organizations
  • Continue process of prioritizing/weeding collection and highlighting resources intentionally


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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