Welcome Connecticut Humanities

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Earlier this month the Bedework Community gave a belated welcome to the New Haven Free Public Library. Today, Connecticut, the Constitution State (albeit for reasons that might surprise you – at least I was surprised), provides us with another opportunity for a belated welcome, this time to Connecticut Humanities.

Connecticut Humanities (CTHumanities) was founded almost 40 years ago as the Connecticut Humanities Council, one of the 56 humanities councils established by the National Endowment for the Humanities to enhance public access to humanities scholarship at the local level. Major funding for CTHumanities is provided by the State of Connecticut and National Endowment for the Humanities with additional support from corporations, foundations and individuals.

CTHumanities focuses its work on providing grants to the state's cultural community for humanities programming and on creating statewide program initiatives of its own The programs it produces or funds include exhibitions; talks, lectures, cultural festivals and similar public-oriented activities. On the digital front, CTHumanities has partnered with the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University, an internationally known institution in the vanguard of the digital humanities, to produce ConnecticutHistory.org. In 2012, CTHumanities also became the new home for the Connecticut Center for the Book, which is affiliated with the Library of Congress.

Late in the fall of 2012, CTHumanities launched a new name (formerly the Connecticut Humanities Council), a new web site (http://cthumanities.org/), and a new Bedework Calendar (http://calendar.cthumanities.org). I had the opportunity to speak with Brett Thompson, Deputy Director, of Connecticut Humanities about the exciting changes at his organization, and their Bedework calendar. Brett has a background in publishing and IT, and has been at CTHumanities for 15 years.

Brett told me that one of the outcomes of their Strategic Plan 2011-2015 was to “make our work more accessible to a broader range of Connecticut residents and focus it around contemporary issues that are important to them.” The new web site and the Bedework calendar were key tactical components in achieving this objective.

When difficulties surfaced trying to port their former events calendar to the platform for their new web site, CTHumanities looked to Bedework for an events calendar with distributed administration that would allow some 400 to 500 cultural organizations through the state, including public libraries, museums, historical societies, etc., to contribute their events to a calendar searchable by event type, age group, theme, and location. They also wanted a calendar which incorporated graphics and had intuitive navigation, something which could serve as the centerpiece to achieve another strategic objective, to “…more effectively support the organizations in the state that bring the humanities to the public.”

There are some calendaring challenges in provisioning hundreds of organizations which do not share a common directory or authentication space, and CTHumanities has provided some feedback on how Bedework’s event’s submission client might be enhanced to better meet their needs, including providing an events preview facility for submitters.

I offered Brett opportunity to have the last word, and here is what he had to say,

“We like that Bedework is supported by a responsive and talented development team that is willing to adapt the product to meet our needs rather than the other way around. We’ll be creating another calendar application for our Center for the Book that will collect book-related events and look forward to talking with the Bedework team about how Bedework might best fill our need.”

It is fitting to close with these word from David McCullough, a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize, and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States' highest civilian award, “I just thank my father and mother, my lucky stars, that I had the advantage of an education in the humanities.”

From the onset of the Bedework project I had hoped that Bedework would be adopted by the libraries, and cultural organizations, and now this is becoming a reality with the Nashville, San Diego, and Hartford public libraries, and Connecticut Humanities.

On behalf of the Bedework Steering Committee,
Gary Schwartz