The CONNector: The Connecticut State Library Newsletter
Connecticut State Library
Open House Day
Connecticut Open House Day 2007

Gray skies and intermittent showers couldn't dampen the spirits of State Library staff and visitors celebrating this year's Connecticut Open House Day. The event, held on Saturday June 9th, is sponsored annually by the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism as a way to spotlight the state's many outstanding museums, cultural sites, and tourist attractions. "This one-day event will raise awareness among Connecticut's residents of all the state has to offer - from world-class art and history museums to outdoor adventures, family activities, and opportunities for rest and relaxation," said Governor Jodi Rell in announcing the event.

Our 1910 Beaux Arts-style building at 231 Capitol Avenue was decked out with festive balloons and the floors were waxed and buffed until they gleamed. State Library staff Lynne Newell, Jane Beaudoin, Gail Hurley, Debra Pond, and Patrick Smith greeted visitors and provided impromptu tours of the building. In addition to information about the library and its many programs, over 50 guests received Frisbees (a Connecticut invention), bright green iCONN pens, snacks, and bottled water.

Special events for the day were tours of the History and Genealogy Unit led by reference librarian Carolyn Picciano, who demonstrated the use of indexes from CSL's Barbour Collection of Vital Statistics. Historical maps of Connecticut towns and early Litchfield County court records processed under the Connecticut State Archives' Court Records Project were also on display. A "Scavenger Hunt of Connecticut History" was offered by museum educator Patrick Smith.

In the main reading room, a Flag Day display detailed Connecticut's role as the first state to celebrate the occasion. Using the Historical Hartford Courant online database and House and Senate Journals, librarians Hilary Frye and Debra Pond of the Law and Legislative Reference Unit were able to show that the 1862 Connecticut General Assembly passed resolutions calling for annual commemoration of Flag Day on June 14th, the first known action by any state.

On the balcony, Government Information Services Unit librarian Steve Rice showed visitors that government documents can take many forms, from a box of Connecticut rock samples to a "Sprocket Man" comic book produced by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission in 1978 to promote bicycle safety.

One of the highlights of the day was a visit by a group of 18 elderly Russian-speaking residents from the Juniper House Community Center in West Hartford. Through a translator, group members asked many questions about judicial and political systems in the United States and Connecticut as they toured the Supreme Court courtroom, museum, and library. Government Information Services librarian Nancy Lieffort led the tour, with assistance from Janis Lefkowitz and Patrick Smith.

Visitors were still arriving as the library's 2 p.m. closing time arrived, and it was time to bring in the balloons. Plans are already underway for next year's celebration. We hope you'll join us.

Debra Pond, Reference Librarian

CONNector, July 2007