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 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.
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.
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.
Indirect Public Support HelpIndirect public support represents revenue received through solicitation campaigns. This includes funding United Way and other federated fundraising organizations, but does not include donor designated contributions.
Earned Revenue HelpEarned revenue represents income generated in direct exchange for a product or service.Earned income includes income from government contracts.
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.
Greater New Haven’s vibrancy is linked to its communities’ support of its neighborhoods, public gardens and sports, as well as its commitment to the protection of its people and pets.
Educate a child and you change a community. For the child, a good education means better career opportunities and higher lifetime earnings. College graduates enjoy better health and are more inclined to volunteer and vote. For the community, supporting our youths’ educational goals results in a stronger society.
Greater New Haven is home to a thriving arts community that includes theatre, music, dance and the visual arts. It is invested in its museums, historic preservation and the celebration of its members’ ethnic and cultural diversity.
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