Otis Library and “Libraries Without Borders” Teaming Up to Provide Satellite Libraries


Cobain Jones, NFA Red & White Reporter

In 2007, a non-profit organization titled Libraries Without Borders was founded by French political scientist and Senior Research Scholar at Yale University Law School Patrick Weil. Since then, Libraries Without Borders has been working throughout the United States to provide library books in public areas such as laundromats, grocery stores, or public parking lots. This past summer, Libraries Without Borders got in contact with six different libraries in Connecticut, including Norwich’s Otis Library.

“[Libraries Without Borders]  actually initiated the collaboration. They were looking for recommendations for a library in an urban environment in this part of the state and Otis candidly has been very active in the idea of getting services to the public where the public resides, where they meet, as well as trying to as well as trying to provide services on site.” said Otis Library director Robert Farwell, “for them the best of all possible worlds (is when) you had an urban library, one that was dedicated to outreach,  and also one that was creative in determining how best to reach the public, Libraries Without Borders uses a lot of unconventional spaces.”

Otis Library has been working with Libraries Without Borders since summer of 2022, but the collaboration is still not complete. However, they inch closer to completion with each meeting and interview. Farwell explained this process in detail. “They pick out community partners who they think share some of their goals for being where people are and helping them gain access to information and the services they need, so they’ll be working with us and with five other libraries.” Farwell described, “This becomes a project that is a pilot for things that they may begin to do in other states and other venues.” Otis Library’s Multicultural Services Coordinator, Bassem Gayed, offered insight into when the project will be in full swing, “We’re still in a phase where we are interviewing our partners and the community and designing programs we hope to start early summer.”

There are many parts of the world that are not able to receive resources that we can, and even some parts of Connecticut. Libraries Without Borders is dedicated to making sure everyone receives equal access to books and literature, their website even mentions expeditions reach as far as Lebanon and Ukraine, and their endeavors in the area will hopefully reduce the inaccessibility throughout the state.