Skip to Main Content

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: Norwalk Public Library

Photo of Norwalk Public Library Bulleting Board at Tracey Elementary School.Norwalk Public Library set the goal of expanding outreach, especially within communities that under-use the library and its offerings due to a variety of real and perceived barriers. With LWB, NPL staff tackled community engagement in the physical world as well as the digital one. By establishing new community access points, NPL staff brought the library to where community members already are through expanding and fostering partnerships with organizations and schools across the city. NPL staff also upskilled their social media team with shared posting calendars and training on best practices for creating content. Consistency and intentionality has already shown engagement results across their social media platforms.

Data Sources

  • 45 community stakeholder interviews, in-depth interviews with library staff
  • Communications analysis of all social media platforms
  • Infrastructure mapping of stakeholders, organizations, meeting places, and pillars of the Norwalk community
  • Library data and community demographic information via CT State Library data, American Community Survey Census data, Advance CT reports, and CT Data Collaborative

Key Findings

  1. A staff member at Norwalk Public Library describes what they call “an age old library problem” where some libraries limit their marketing to “traditional” strategies (newsletters, program flyers, etc), and community members who aren’t already engaged are left unaware of their offerings. Many residents look to social media specifically to find information about their city, yet both branches of NPL host social media accounts that lag behind industry standards of engagement and reach, which highlights a gap in community connection and awareness. Inconsistently posted content limits opportunities for residents to learn about offerings at both the main and South Norwalk (SoNo) branches.
  2. Residents describe Norwalk as a supportive community with an impressive amount of services for those who need them. However, they also note that this conflicts with lacking community awareness of these offerings. For example, the library itself offers free language learning resources, yet community members consistently name the need for language services in Norwalk.


“It seems to be that the library only relies on putting up signs for people who already come to the library… There are lots of people who don’t even know how to utilize the library or where it is.” -Norwalk Resident

Outreach Strategies

Library Promotion through Community Access Points, Community Partner Expansion, & Social Media


Established Community Access Points & Expanded Local Partnerships

Program staff at NPL have an increased capacity to expand existing relationships and to cultivate intentional partnerships with organizations across the city in order to promote the library and to foster library offerings that meet residents’ needs.

Newly established community access points allow community members to learn about what the library offers and connect directly to its resources in places where they already spend time. This serves as ongoing library promotion and increases the ease in which people access library offerings. At Tracey Elementary, students and parents can scan a QR code to learn how a student ID acts as a library card and find out about the different resources available to them at the library. A partnership with the Carver Center allows teachers to check out books directly from the library to share with their students. At future access point locations, community members and residents will be able to learn about library offerings, sign up for library cards, and access free books.

Library staff have an expanded ability to assess community relationships and optimize partnership opportunities. One staff member describes, “Creating library access points and hubs at schools and other community locations will create stronger ties between the library and the community. It will bring more awareness to the heaps of information and resources that we have to offer. The goal is to bring not only our resources to the community but also hopefully bring the community to us through that process. The library will maintain relevancy and accessibility by keeping in contact with our partners to make sure upkeep is maintained.

Increased Social Media Engagement and Reach

Both NPL branches implemented strategic content calendars and best practices for content creation that increased the consistency and intentionality of library promotion on social media.

For NPL’s main branch, platform reach increased by 73.3% for Facebook and 14.5% for Instagram. This important metric identifies the number of community members who see library content, and the increase indicates a boost in community awareness. Post engagements grew 149.7% for Instagram, showcasing an increase in community members interacting with library-related information. One of the most significant changes implemented on both platforms, the use of photos/videos of library staff and patrons in place of program flyers, personalizes the content; implementing this strategy has allowed their posts to reach and engage a wider audience.

When best practices were implemented, SoNo’s reach increased by 82% on Facebook and 72.4% on Instagram. During that same period of time, post engagements grew by 26.3% on Facebook and 44% on Instagram. Ongoing success requires consistent implementation of strategies, tools, and best practices in order to reach and engage greater numbers of community members.

One staff member shares, “I've learned a great deal about social media, which has helped me make strategic changes in the way I post. From using hashtags to turning away from graphics to creating fun and engaging captions, I now have a better grasp on running the accounts. I've developed a new understanding of social media platforms and the difference in content that works on Instagram vs. Facebook. Our social media accounts constantly have content now that shows many different aspects of the library.”

Next Steps for Sustainable Implementation

  • Identify ongoing role of local partners for library promotion
  • Identify new locations to create access points within the community
  • Identify opportunities for expanded partnerships and strategic outreach events
  • Consistently implement social media tools and strategies


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. 

Institute of Museum and Library Services Logo

Connecticut State Library | 231 Capitol Avenue, Hartford, CT 06106 | 860-757-6500 * Toll-free 866-886-4478
Disclaimers & Permissions | Privacy Policy | State of Connecticut Home Page

The State of Connecticut is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer and strongly encourages the applications of women, minorities, and persons with disabilities.