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The Hartford Public Library - Strengthening A Premier System Serving Hartford Residents In The 21st Century

Aug 29, 2017

We are fortunate that the Hartford Public Library remains one of the country's leading urban public library systems delivering premier levels of programs and services to a diverse set of users.  Under the leadership of Greg Davis, Board Chair, and Bridget Quinn-Carey, CEO, the Library recently established a comprehensive strategic plan, supported by Mayor Luke Bronin, to ensure its financial stability and thereby sustain its ability to deliver those superior programs and services to City residents and others from across the Region who depend on the Library for a wide range of needs.

The plan follows a comprehensive  evaluation of the Library that was led by the Library's Board and funded by the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving.  That evaluation covered all financial, programmatic, and usage aspects of the Library and served as the basis for the strategic plan that will enhance the Library's capacity to continue to deliver the highest quality programs and services for the balance of this decade and well into the next.

We all recognize that the State and City budget crises have impacted many levels and types of public services  Like other entities, the Library has experienced a significant decrease in its public funding causing it to reduce staffing levels and, as a result, its days and hours of service. At the same time, residents and other Library users have sought more access and services, and the Library has worked with the generous business and philanthropic communities to create innovative initiatives and partnerships to meet those demands.

Nonetheless, the Library must take a series of responsible steps to maintain its valued staff of professionals who deliver the desired programs and services to the largest possible number of residents and other members of the public.  The Library's strategic plan achieves those steps by focusing staffing and operational resources more effectively to enhance its programs and services and their positive impact on the City.  The plan also leverages new and mobile delivery models that bring many programs and services directly to the neighborhoods.  These include mobile library vans and 24-hour kiosks complemented by visits by Library staff to schools, senior centers, and day care providers.

The combination of these actions, while certainly having some initial negative impact on a number of residents, reflect the type of leadership and stewardship necessary to provide the broadest and best levels of programs and services to all of the City's residents over the long haul.  Suffice it to say that the establishment of the plan clearly demonstrates that the Library's Board and management remain absolutely  committed to the Library's mission of providing the highest quality of urban library services to the City's residents and its other users notwithstanding the fiscal challenges facing the City and the State.

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