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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: Otis Library

Photo of two people talking and smiling in front of one laptop in the Otis Library.Otis Library strives to be a central community hub, full of resources from the library itself, and from the broader ecosystem of agencies and organizations all working to serve residents of Norwich. A fresh take on both its newsletter and social media alongside a new website, help improved external communications, raising awareness and reaching beyond the library's physical visitors. Internally, library staff organized themselves creating a shared community asset map to collectively track and maintain key partnerships. For its community, Otis Library staff built a digital and physical database to allow residents to find and discover services and resources available across their city.

Data Sources

  • 30 community stakeholder interviews, in-depth interviews with library staff
  • Otis Library communications analysis and user experience surveys across social media platforms, website, and newsletter
  • Infrastructure mapping of identified stakeholders, organizations, meeting places, and pillars of the Norwich community
  • CT State Library data, American Community Survey Census data, Advance CT reports, and CT Data Collaborative information used to gather community demographic information
  • Otis Library staff capacity analysis

Key Findings

  1. Data shows community members are relatively unaware of what the library has to offer despite Otis' positive reputation in the Norwich area. Many community members get information about what is happening in their community online. At the same time, Otis’ social media platforms fall behind industry standards for content reach and engagement, and user experience surveys of the library’s website and newsletter reveal that finding relevant information is challenging.
  2. Staff time is primarily consumed by operational and administrative responsibilities, many of which are essential to keeping the library running. While library leadership and staff members value community engagement, minimal time is explicitly dedicated to outreach. Staff spend time on marketing in silos, minimizing the impact of existing efforts.
  3. Community members look to the library as a central place to find critical resources and services. There are many organizations meeting these essential needs in Norwich, but library staff need a tool or database in order to direct patrons to the appropriate locations.

Outreach Strategies

  • Library Promotion through Social Media, Website, & Newsletter
  • Community Partner Audit and Expansion
  • Creation of Resource Hub


Increased Digital Engagement and Reach

Staff note that improvements to library communications have "raise[d] awareness about upcoming events, programs, and services, reaching a broader audience beyond its physical location."

  • The library implemented a strategic content calendar that increased the consistency and intentionality of posts on Facebook and Instagram. Average engagements per post grew 93% for Facebook and 283% for Instagram. The average reach per post, a metric used to identify the number of community members who view library content, grew 67% on Facebook and 130% on Instagram.
  • The library updated its website, improving the user experience and increasing the ease of upkeep for staff. Staff state that the website “feels so much more user friendly and elevates the library. The most important part of the website is access to the information that our patrons need, and it [does] that well!”
  • The library changed the format of its newsletter, shifting from one long newsletter to three, smaller, more targeted emails. This tailored the experience for recipients, who now receive curated information more relevant to their needs and interests.

Expanded Community Partnerships

Otis organized 55 existing community relationships into a detailed partnership tracking tool that distinguishes the status of each relationship and guides staff in optimizing opportunities for partnership. It further supports staff in discerning who the right partners are to support their goals. Staff describe this practice as a “wake-up call” - an opportunity to optimize library relationships and overall community impact.

Expanded Access to Community Resources

The creation of a digital and physical resource database allows Otis to connect community members to a wide range of services and resources across Norwich. Living up to its vision is to be a central hub for community resources, this generates greater awareness of and access to community organizations providing critical services and resources within the community. One Otis Library staff member notes, “the resource hubs are an amazing service we can provide to streamlines things and helps people get the resources that they need. This will overwhelmingly help us achieve our goals of aiding the community as much as we can [and will] increase patrons’ positive view of the library.”

Social Media Growth

Baseline Current Growth
Average Number of Engagements per Facebook Post 14.2 27.9 +93%
Average Reach per Facebook Post 488 813.8 +67%
Average Number of Engagements per Instagram Post 4.9 18.7 +283%
Average Reach per Instagram Post 88.7 203.8 +130%


Next Steps for Sustainable Implementation

  • Utilize partnership committee to identify opportunities to optimize relationships and update community partner tracker regularly
  • Utilize marketing committee to maintain content calendar and implement social media tools and strategies
  • Maintain pulse on how staff time is spent to continually align to library priorities
  • Update resource hub with relevant offerings


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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