Library DrawingThe CONNector

NOVEMBER 2001 Volume 3 Number 4

The State Librarian's Column

Kendall WigginsKendall F. Wiggin
Connecticut State Librarian

The library community, like the rest of the nation, has been affected by the tragic events of September 11th.

The Connecticut library community was deeply saddened by the death of Margaret Quinn Orloske of Windsor who worked on the 96th floor of World Trade Center I . Before becoming a Vice-President for Marsh & McLennan Companies, Margaret had been a librarian for Travelers Insurance in Hartford. She was very active in the library community, including serving on the board of the Capitol Regional Library Council.

A few weeks after the horrific events of September 11th, the State Library hosted a reception for Fleet Cheers for Reading II in Memorial Hall. This is the second year that Fleet Bank has sponsored this community service program aimed at kindling a lifelong passion for reading in preschool children. That afternoon a reporter asked me about the importance of reading to children at times like these. I explained that reading, especially adults reading to children, provided children and adults a chance to distance themselves, if only momentarily, from the great events that were forever changing our lives. It was also an opportunity for children to hear from adults that it is ok to find a little escape from overwhelming situations through books and conversation. But the question also made me consider the importance of institutions like libraries at times of volatility in both our personal and national life.

Libraries have the informational resources that can help individuals gain a better understanding of the issues, cope with loss, locate job prospects or find solace. There are books in our libraries to help us explain to our children those things which we often have trouble conveying in a way that they can understand. The American Library Association, organizations such as OCLC and libraries throughout the state and nation have produced wonderful lists of resources that can help adults and children better cope with terrorism and disaster. Employees who have lost jobs will find help in library job resource centers. Supplementing library collections are the timely resources of iCONN.org, the Connecticut Digital Library.

These are also difficult times for librarians caught between their love of country and the protection of the freedoms we cherish. We are no less patriotic when we urge our elected officials to consider carefully abridgements to our fundamental freedoms in the name of fighting terrorism or obeying the law when assisting law enforcement officials. In these times when the domestic tranquility is broken and the economy is faltering, it is important that librarians get the message out that libraries matter and that librarians can do much to assist our fellow citizens.

Libraries are, after all, about community. All of us at the State Library offer our condolences and deepest sympathies to the families and friends of those affected by the tragedies of September 11th and most especially, to Connecticut families.

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