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

January 26, 2016

Sue Cardillo Yearrick-Millea
O: 412-323-9320
M: 412-287-6751

Robert Kinney
Connecticut State Library


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

Washington, DC, January 26, 2016 – 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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