James Blackstone Memorial Library Association
758 Main St
Branford CT 06405-3617
Contact Information
Address 758 Main St
Branford, CT 06405-3617
Telephone (203) 488-1441 x312
Fax 203-481-6077
E-mail kjensen@blackstonelibrary.org
Web and Social Media
The James Blackstone Memorial Library provides essential access to information, resources and unique shared experiences to help ensure Branford is an educated and enriched community.
At A Glance
Year of Incorporation 1896
Organization's type of tax exempt status Exempt-Other
Organization received a competitive grant from the community foundation in the past five years No
CEO/Executive Director Karen Jensen
Board Chair Andrew McKirdy
Board Chair Company Affiliation Retired
Financial Summary
Revenue vs Expenses Bar Graph - All Years
Mission The James Blackstone Memorial Library provides essential access to information, resources and unique shared experiences to help ensure Branford is an educated and enriched community.

The James Blackstone Memorial Library was dedicated on June 17, 1896. Built in honor of James Blackstone, a longtime Branford resident, the library’s construction was funded by James’ son, Timothy Beach Blackstone.

The library circulates materials including books, CDs, DVDs, museum passes, ebooks, and digital magazine subscriptions. The reference and children’s areas provide computers and internet access for public use, a scanner, photocopying and printing, and an optelec reader for those with low vision. iPads and laptops are also loaned for use within the library. The Reference department maintains an extensive collection of town and family histories, high school yearbooks and genealogical resources.

The library offers regular programs and workshops on a wide variety of current topics including art lectures, concerts, book discussions, computer instruction, and more. Story hours, book clubs, crafts, movies, science activities and summer reading programs for all ages are held on a regular basis.

Our new MakerLab includes a 3D printer, digital video and still camera, green screen and studio lighting, electronics, audio recording, sewing machine, circuitry and electronics equipment. The MakerLab is available to people of all ages who wish to explore and acquire basic technology skills.

Library resources are free to the public and are made possible by a variety of sources. The Town of Branford provides funding for approximately 85% of the annual operating budget. The remainder is funded through a combination of income from the library’s endowment, grants, fundraisers and private donations. The Friends of the Library conduct an annual book sale to raise funds for additional arts programs, materials for the collection and staff development. They also fund special projects such as the new MakerLab.


The Library continues to keep pace as an important resource for the Branford community. In FY 2015, we had 10,289 registered cardholders, loaned 231,167 items, and answered 73,507 questions. Our summer reading program saw its best participation ever, with over 1,700 students from Branford schools completing the program this year. The library was active with an average of over 560 visitors per day.

The Library completed the final year of its 3-year strategic plan adopted at the end of 2012. Our MakerLab provided opportunities for children, teens and adults to learn skills including 3-D printing, sewing and electronics. Equipment from the MakerLab can be experienced in several areas of the library now; a sewing machine has a regular spot in the lower rotunda and we now have two 3-D printers, one in the children’s department and one in the rotunda on the first floor. A $6,458 grant from the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) allowed us to offer additional MakerLab programs for teens. We hosted the fourth annual Branford Public Schools’ art show, ERACE ESL night, and partnered with the Exchange Club to offer diaper bags filled with community information and literacy resources for parents with new babies. As a member of LION, we are able to offer an expanding ebook and digital magazine collection—available for Branford residents to borrow at no cost.

We renewed our focus on development by promoting a staff member to the new position of Development and Outreach Librarian. As a result, our appeals have started to generate more income, and we have explored a variety of fundraisers including The Great Give, Hogwarts School of Wizardry and Magic, Murder at the Blackstone, and Caddystacks (Mini-golf) in the Library. Fines, auditorium rentals, direct appeals, donations, fundraisers and grants generated $195,111 in FY 2015. The Friends of the Library continue to hold their annual book sale in September, raising funds that support staff development, special programs celebrating the arts and culture, and supplemental materials for our circulating collection.


In FY 2017, the library will work with an architect on the schematic design phase of the renovation plan, with support from the Town of Branford.

The library will continue to develop the collection and related programming based on community needs.

  • The library is fortunate to have strong support from the Town of Branford, but still must raise 15% of its operating budget from private funds. For FY 2017, the amount needed totals $238,434.
  • New members of the Board of Trustees with background and expertise in development and/or historic building preservation.
  • New members of the Board of Trustees with giving capacity, community relationships, volunteering capacity, and/or cultural backgrounds that contribute to greater diversity of the board.
  • Volunteers to help plan and coordinate special fundraising events.
CEO Statement
Housed in a 119 year-old, neoclassical style building featuring a unique domed rotunda with spectacular painted murals, the James Blackstone Memorial Library is a historic and architectural landmark in the town of Branford. While loaning books and other materials is our primary focus, our motto is "more than books", meaning that the personal connection made from providing reading suggestions, book discussion groups, lectures, computer classes, concerts, story times and other community programs inspires learning and cultural exploration.
Board Chair Statement

The James Blackstone Memorial Library plays a vital role in supporting education, learning and enrichment opportunities for people of all ages. The Blackstone Board of Trustees is a strong and fiscally sound organization. Terms of the members alternate to ensure a healthy mix of new and experienced trustees. We have renewed our focus on fundraising efforts in the past few years. The library has completed a 3-year strategic plan which included enhancements to technology, digital collections and educational programming. During this time, library staff launched a new website, incorporated technology into regular programs, strengthened community partnerships, and inaugurated the first Mobile MakerLab.

Challenges that our board faces include clarifying the role of trustees and strengthening the orientation process. We have revised our document outlining guidelines for board members, and we have established a mentor program for new board members. We will begin to develop annual goals for the board of trustees in conjunction with the library director's annual goals, and plan board training sessions accordingly.

Service Categories
Primary Organization Category Education / Libraries
Areas Served
The James Blackstone Memorial Library serves residents of the town of Branford, and also surrounding areas. The library's participation in the Connecticard program allows residents of any town in CT to borrow materials from our library.

The James Blackstone Memorial Library holds a collection of 85,384 items, including books, CDs, DVDs, newspapers, magazines, electronic databases, museum passes and ebooks. In 2015, the total circulation was 231,167.

The library offers a variety of programs for education and enrichment, ranging from storytimes, book discussions for all ages, concerts, art lectures, computer classes, legal and medical referral, opera appreciation, job search help and much more. The library presented 643 programs in 2015, with a total attendance of 12,245 people.

21 computers are available for public use with access to the Internet, MS Office software and a variety of databases. 28,478 sessions on these computers took place in 2015. The library owns a collection of 20 iPads, used in regular programs and circulated for use within the library. 14 laptops are included in our Mobile Makerlab; they are used for computer classes including 3D printing, video editing, and basic computer skills.

Population Served Adults / Children and Youth (0 - 19 years) / Elderly and/or Disabled
Program is linked to organization’s mission and strategy Yes
Program is frequently assessed based on predetermined program goals Yes
Short Term SuccessHelpOrganizations describe near term achievement(s) or improvement(s) that will result from this program. This may represent immediate outcomes occurring as a result of the end of a session or service. The library will continue to offer opportunities for education and enrichment; relevant programs are planned to match the community's interests and needs, and residents of the town value membership by renewing their card registrations.
Long Term SuccessHelpOrganizations describe the ultimate change(s) that will result from this program. This may be far into the future and represent an ideal state. The community of Branford will be educated and enriched through the information, resources and unique shared experiences provided through the library.
Program Success Monitored ByHelpOrganizations describe the tools used to measure or track program impact. Materials circulation will continue to reach over 200,000 each year, registered cardholders are no less than 10,000 residents, and program attendance continues to draw over 12,000 people each year.
Examples of Program SuccessHelpOrganization's site specific examples of changes in clients' behaviors or testimonies of client's changes to demonstrate program success. Comments from our patrons: "Upon my first visit to Branford, I fell in love with the town in part because of the first impression that the Blackstone Library made upon me."  "The staff here is excellent." "Children's programs are great."  Super service of home delivery of requested materials."  "A great library softens the sharp edges of age."
Program Comments
CEO Comments

The library's materials budget has remained flat for the past several years, and it is a challenge to fund electronic resources, which are typically more expensive than traditional printed materials. Our membership in the LION consortium helps us to combine resources with other public libraries to share access to e-resources. Our Friends of the Library group has been successful in raising funds to purchase supplemental materials for the collection, and fund special programs. It is challenging to offer a wide variety of relevant programs at an affordable cost to the library; however the library’s distinctive venue is a draw, as is its proximity to New Haven and Yale University, and the diversity and expertise of community members. The physical building is both an asset and a challenge. While the architecture is beautiful and inspiring, the space configuration was not designed for 21st century technology. The Board of Trustees worked with an architect in 2013 to design a conceptual plan for a space reallocation and renovation that will address building issues.  The library has received a state grant of $1,000,000 toward this project.

CEO/Executive Director
Karen Jensen
Term Start Jan 2013
Email kjensen@blackstonelibrary.org
Experience Karen graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s degree in communications and she has a master’s degree in library science from Southern CT State University. Prior to becoming a librarian, Karen worked in advertising and sales. Her library experience includes the Lucy Robbins Welles Library in Newington where she started her career as a reference librarian, the Plumb Memorial Library in Shelton where she was the assistant director for seven years, and the Hagaman Library in East Haven, where she was the director for four years.  Karen is an active member of the Connecticut Library Association, Branford Rotary Club and Shoreline Chamber of Commerce.
Number of Full Time Staff 14
Number of Part Time Staff 9
Number of Volunteers 6
Staff Retention Rate 100%
Staff Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 23
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0 0
Staff Demographics - Gender
Male 1
Female 22
Unspecified 0
Former CEOs and Terms
Donna Lolos July 1999 - Apr 2003
Kathy Reiger Aug 2003 - June 2012
Formal Evaluations
CEO Formal Evaluation Yes
CEO/Executive Formal Evaluation Frequency Annually
Senior Management Formal Evaluation Yes
Senior Management Formal Evaluation Frequency Annually
Non Management Formal Evaluation Yes
Non Management Formal Evaluation Frequency Annually
A variety of organizations support the library through programming and philanthropy, including the Menunkatuck Audubon Society, Tilde Cafe, Shoreline Arts Alliance, Branford Land Trust, Branford Historical Society, CT Works, VNA Healthcare, CT Library Association, CT Library Consortium, Yale University, Friends of the James Blackstone Memorial Library, Branford Public Schools, Branford Community Television, Seedlings Foundation, Guilford Savings Bank, Branford Rotary Club, Allen Louis Loeb Foundation, The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven and many individual donors and volunteers.
Board Chair
Andrew McKirdy
Company Affiliation Retired
Term Dec 2009 to June 2018
Board of Directors
Sandra Baldwin Retired
Michalah Bracken Community Volunteer
Keira Cervoni Guilford Savings Bank
Dr. Norman Dahl Dr. Norman Dahl III, DDS PC & Friends
Jan Vaill Day retired
Polly Fitz retired
David Henderson HealthPlanOne
Ed Kirk Aqua Comfort Technologies
Beth Law Cedarhurst School at Yale University
Rick Mahoney Retired
Tom Perrone New England Consulting of Guilford
Robin Sandler Robin Bruce Sandler, P.C.
Frank Twohill Attorney in Private Practice
Gina Wells Medical Associates
Board Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 15
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0 0
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 8
Female 7
Unspecified 0
Board Term Lengths 3
Board Term Limits 2
Written Board Selection Criteria Under Development
Written Conflict of Interest Policy Yes
Percentage Making Monetary Contributions 100%
Percentage Making In-Kind Contributions 100%
Constituency Includes Client Representation Yes
Standing Committees
Board Governance
CEO Comments
Challenges that our board face include clarifying the role of trustees and strengthening the orientation process. We have revised our document outlining guidelines for board members, and we have established a mentor program for new board members. We will begin to develop annual goals for the board of trustees in conjunction with the library director's annual goals, and plan board training sessions accordingly.
Fiscal Year Start July 01 2016
Fiscal Year End June 30 2017
Projected Revenue $1,556,420.00
Projected Expenses $1,556,420.00
Spending Policy Percentage
Percentage (if selected) 5%
Credit Line No
Reserve Fund No
Detailed Financials
Prior Three Years Revenue Sources ChartHelpThe financial analysis involves a comparison of the IRS Form 990 and the audit report (when available) and revenue sources may not sum to total based on reconciliation differences. Revenue from foundations and corporations may include individual contributions when not itemized separately.
Fiscal Year201520142013
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
Government Contributions$1,260,508$1,226,280$1,179,164
Individual Contributions------
Investment Income, Net of Losses$113,084$49,816$93,026
Membership Dues------
Special Events------
Revenue In-Kind------
Prior Three Years Expense Allocations Chart
Fiscal Year201520142013
Program Expense$1,397,248$1,340,879$1,239,157
Administration Expense$258,822$245,127$233,461
Fundraising Expense$16,678$16,493$9,084
Payments to Affiliates------
Total Revenue/Total Expenses0.920.880.96
Program Expense/Total Expenses84%84%84%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue1%1%1%
Prior Three Years Assets and Liabilities Chart
Fiscal Year201520142013
Total Assets$5,946,717$6,036,716$5,933,674
Current Assets$293,708$302,963$385,815
Long-Term Liabilities------
Current Liabilities$86,919$95,851$58,740
Total Net Assets$5,856,798$5,940,865$5,874,934
Prior Three Years Top Three Funding Sources
Fiscal Year201520142013
Top Funding Source & Dollar AmountFriends of the James Blackstone Library $32,070Friends of the Blackstone Memorial Library $38,075Friends of the Blackstone Memorial Library $22,941
Second Highest Funding Source & Dollar Amount -- -- --
Third Highest Funding Source & Dollar Amount -- -- --
Short Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201520142013
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities3.383.166.57
Long Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201520142013
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets0%0%0%
Capitial Campaign
Currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? Yes
Foundation Staff Comments

This profile, including the financial summaries prepared and submitted by the organization based on its own independent and/or internal audit processes and regulatory submissions, has been read by the Foundation. Financial information is inputted by Foundation staff directly from the organization’s IRS Form 990, audited financial statements or other financial documents approved by the nonprofit’s board. The Foundation has not audited the organization’s financial statements or tax filings, and makes no representations or warranties thereon. The Community Foundation is continuing to receive information submitted by the organization and may periodically update the organization’s profile to reflect the most current financial and other information available. The organization has completed the fields required by The Community Foundation and updated their profile in the last year. To see if the organization has received a competitive grant from The Community Foundation in the last five years, please go to the General Information Tab of the profile.

Address 758 Main St
Branford, CT 064053617
Primary Phone 203 488-1441 312
CEO/Executive Director Karen Jensen
Board Chair Andrew McKirdy
Board Chair Company Affiliation Retired


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