Hartford Public Library Builds, Strengthens Community–Police Relationships
by Alison Marcotte
August 3, 2015
Hartford (Conn.) Public Library (HPL), block parties and community theater are more than just forms of entertainment. They are potential ways to solve the issue of public safety and build a stronger relationship between residents and the police department.
HPL is one of 10 public libraries in the US that have been participating in ALA’s Libraries Transforming Communities (LTC) initiative since April 2014. The initiative, in collaboration with the nonprofit Harwood Institute for Public Innovation, is an 18-month community engagement training program where libraries learn how to address challenges facing their community. (Read more about LTC in the January/February 2015 issues of American Libraries.)
HPL’s community engagement director and project leader Richard Frieder says it’s inherent in the mission of public libraries to understand the needs of the community and help residents make their city a better place.
“Libraries have an enormous asset, which is trust. People trust libraries, and public libraries in particular. And that means that they feel comfortable coming to the library and sharing their ideas and concerns and working together with us to help solve problems,” Frieder says.
Through eight community conversations in Hartford’s North End neighborhood, HPL found that residents’ main concerns were public safety, community violence, and their relationship with the police.