Rendering courtesy of Hartford Public Library/Silver Petrucelli + Associates
When the proposed construction is completed, the new library will feature 15,000 sq. ft of space and include a children’s room, teen lounge, computer area, technology lab and an area for programming facilitated by Makerspace.
A new branch of the Hartford Public Library (HPL) in Connecticut will begin construction later this spring, city officials announced in a December news release.
Mayor Luke Bronin, HPL President and CEO Bridget Quinn, and city and community leaders will all come together at a date still to be determined to break ground on a new Barbour Street Library Branch, which has an anticipated development cost of $17.5 million.
The project has been fully funded by utilizing a combination of sources, including city of Hartford general funds, monies made available to the city through the American Rescue Plan Act, and corporate contributions by The Hartford, Travelers and Aetna. Additionally, the Connecticut State Library's Public Construction Grant program awarded another $2 million for the building project.
In December, the Hartford City Council voted to approve Bronin's request for a final allocation of $3.5 million to close the remaining funding gap and ensure that the library's construction can get under way.
"Thank you to Mayor Luke Bronin, to the city of Hartford and to the Connecticut State Library for making it possible for the HPL to build a new state of the art Barbour Street Library," said Quinn. "The library will be a beacon for the community and allow HPL to expand services at our Barbour branch. We are looking forward to having the new Barbour library open to serve our community as soon as possible."
Located in a leased storefront in Hartford's Unity Plaza, the current Barbour Street library encompasses only 1,850 sq. ft. — a space not large enough to provide the services, technology and programming to meet the needs of the community, according to the news release.
When the proposed construction is completed, the new library will feature 15,000 sq. ft of space and include a children's room, teen lounge, computer area, technology lab and an area for programming facilitated by Makerspace.
Plans call for the new building to be constructed on the currently vacant city-owned lot at 234 Barbour St., the site of a former Snyder's supermarket which had sat vacant and blighted for decades before it was acquired and remediated by the city of Hartford.
"The Barbour Street Library has been one of our top priorities, and we've worked hard to put the final funding in place so that construction can move forward as soon as the weather gets warm," explained Bronin, who added that the facility will "welcome and inspire generations of kids and families here in the Northeast neighborhood."
More Than Just a Place for Books
The plans and design for the new library were facilitated by Barbour Branch Manager Irene Blean and Steven Harris, an HPL board member and northeast Hartford resident, who coordinated resident and stakeholder focus groups to ensure the neighborhood's needs were reflected in the plans.
Based on community input, the library will include:
- A large Community Room for meetings, cultural events and programming.
- A dedicated food pantry that will enable expansion of the twice-monthly food distribution service currently offered in partnership with Connecticut Foodshare.
- An enclosed courtyard for outdoor programming designed to foster additional collaboration with the Mount Moriah Community Garden, located adjacent to the new library site, and KNOX Hartford, a coalition of community organizations that support Hartford through horticulture and environmentally centered programs.
- The NextGen Adult Learning Center, a space for expanded workforce and career development classes and training as well as enhanced educational and skill-based training opportunities offered by HPL and community partners.
- A strengthening of the HPL's boundless partnership with the Fred D. Wish Museum School.
"This project is also a really important piece of the broader work to revitalize Barbour Street, including the planned renovation of Wish School, the construction of new quality affordable housing on the corners of Westland and Barbour, and hopefully the redevelopment of the Clark School property in the years ahead," explained Bronin.
"We're blessed to have one of the best library systems in the country, and I'm proud that the Northeast neighborhood will now have a beautiful, standalone branch to call its own. I'm grateful to everyone who has helped to make this project possible, and I'm especially grateful to our community and to neighborhood leaders like Steve Harris, who have led the planning for this project from the start."
HPL Has Long Been Dedicated to City's Enrichment
With roots dating back to 1774, the Hartford Public Library remains at the forefront of redefining the urban library experience in the 21st century. With seven locations throughout the city, HPL provides education, intellectual enrichment and cultural development for thousands of children, youth and adults every year.
The library system also has gained local and national recognition for its wide range of new initiatives and partnerships designed to meet the needs of a diverse and dynamic city and region, including immigration services, employment assistance and youth leadership training.
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