Monday, February 7, 2011

Tom Condon on the Transformation of Public Libraries.

This incident got him started.

Libraries Writing New Chapter. (Hartford Courant, 2/6/2011)

Excerpt: In addition to treating its residents as simpletons, the Enfield leadership pushed against one of the most important trends in the country — the transformation of public libraries.

Libraries are not the quiet, staid, predictable institutions of yore. Libraries are now vital, multimedia centers of their communities, as much about helping people find a job as helping them find a book. Take, for example, the Hartford Public Library.

On a recent evening, the Hartford library had a program on how someone with a past criminal conviction may be able to get a pardon. The state's large cities bear the brunt of getting ex-offenders back into society. It's a difficult task in large part because it's so hard for ex-offenders to find work. But many who have finished their sentences and kept their records clean may be eligible for a pardon or expungement, which makes it much easier to find a job.

In showing them the process, in partnership with the Norwich-based Connecticut Pardon team Inc., the library provided a meaningful community service. And this was just one of hundreds of classes, lectures, forums and other programs that will take place there this year.

The Hartford Public Library's main branch was once a dull box of a building, almost invisible on Main Street. The interior was felt heavy, dark and compartmentalized; nothing was easily connected to anything else. But a $42 million renovation, completed a few years ago, changed it, physically and spiritually. It became an open, airy, welcoming building. Its leaders promised it would become a focal point for civic life. It has, and is.

Related article.
Chris Powell misses the point.  (2/2/2011)

No comments: