April 18, 2018

Scott Hughes | Movers & Shakers 2010 – Advocates

Library Journal March 15, 2010: Scott Hughes, Mover & Shaker

On the Offense

In early 2008, the mayor of Bridgeport, CT, proposed cutting the Bridgeport Public Library’s (BPL) budget by .1 million in an attempt to close a million deficit. “Libraries are not essential services,” Mayor Bill Finch told the local press.

Scott Hughes, the library’s director since 2007, was shocked—but not deterred. He went on the offense, digging up an obscure law that essentially allowed him to get a library-funding referendum before voters with just 50 signatures. But he still had to sue the city to get it on the November 2009 ballot.

He also went on a charm offense, reaching out to a cross-section of Bridgeport’s citizens to convince them that libraries were indeed essential services. He enlisted the help of more than 100 volunteers to make phone calls, stand at the polls, and educate their neighbors. One who didn’t need convincing was Geraldine Johnson, the retired superintendent of Bridgeport’s schools. Hughes says she took a bus load of her neighbors to the polls to vote yes for the measure, which, though few voters turned out, passed with 65 percent approval.

The referendum boosted city support for library services from .8 million to .9 million. After years of devastating cuts, BPL had a sustainable budget.

This, however, wasn’t his first big win for a library. Hughes also stabilized the library in Geneva, NY, where he was the library system’s executive director from 2004 to 2006. “I have been fortunate to realize Einstein’s theory of insanity is true and led two successful library referenda campaigns that allowed people a process to decide on their library’s level of funding,” Hughes says. “Local support to the Geneva Public Library has increased by 98 percent, and funding to the Bridgeport Public Library will increase 44 percent on July 1, 2010.” Any library team would be fortunate to play under the Hughes system.


Scott Hughes, Bridgeport Public Library, CT


DEGREE MSLS, Clark Atlanta University, 1993

SPECIALTY Getting the money