Library DrawingThe CONNector

JANUARY 2000Volume 2 Number 1

The State Librarian's Column

Kendall WigginsKendall F. Wiggin
Connecticut State Librarian

As the clock starts ticking down on the 20th century few of us are ready to predict the future, but I venture to say that libraries in Connecticut are at a crossroads.

Back in January 1901 R.R. Bowker did not want to prophesize the future either, but in the January 1901 issue of the Library Journal he did write that it was "difficult to imagine that the next hundred years can do more, if so much, in invention within the library field as has been done in the past twenty-five years." He went on to say that the last years of the 19th century had been ones of pioneering and that the years to come should be those of fruition.

Many of the pioneering efforts of the 19th century did come to fruition as the 20th century progressed. But Bowker might be very surprised to see that the pioneering of new library services did not stop with the close of the 19th century. Nor did the invention of exciting new information technologies. Connecticut libraries, in particular, have pioneered many new services in the area of resource sharing and have been early adopters of new information technologies. The Connecticut Union List of Serials (CULS), Connecticard, Connecticar (C-Car), the Cooperating Library Service Units (CLSUs), the Connecticut Library and Information Network (CLIN), the Connecticut Library Network (reQuest) and the regional automation systems are just a few examples of the way resource sharing has been pioneered in Connecticut. The Partnership of Connecticut Libraries (PCL) was the most recent of these efforts.

Several factors have, at times, tempered our pioneering efforts. In his paper, Steady Habits and Wooden Nutmegs; Connecticut Libraries in the Year 2000 (CSL, 1990), retired UConn Library Director Norman D. Stevens noted that "Connecticut has a reputation for being a conservative state with well established institutions that are slow to change." Connecticut is also a state that is comprised of many independently governed libraries. Neither our reputation for steady habits nor our heritage of local control should hold us back. They just make it more interesting.

State and federal funds have been a catalyst for many of these pioneering efforts. But the state funding has not been there to sustain these efforts. This has put pressure on the federal dollars, which in turn has limited the funds needed to stimulate and support the development of new resource sharing efforts.

A window of opportunity has opened. Lt. Governor Rell has recommended to the Governor the establishment of the Connecticut Education Network as well as a digital library. Connecticut Public Television is about to move into the digital television arena. The time to craft a new vision for library resource sharing that meets the needs of a 21st century Connecticut is now.

I have asked both the Advisory Council on Library Planning and Development (ACLPD) and the Connecticut Digital Library (reQuest) Board to convene whatever task forces are necessary to draft a blueprint for statewide multi-type resource sharing by this summer. Your feedback to the draft plan will be essential as we work to reach consensus by this fall. This is an aggressive time frame, but we have little time to waste. The challenge will be to develop a plan that allows libraries to adapt quickly to the increasingly rapid rate of technological change, is sustainable and technology neutral.

I encourage your active participation as together we plan for an exciting future.

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