A major facelift is on the way for a Hartford library following years of residents’ request for a larger location. On Tuesday, state leaders gathered to break ground at the new site of New Park Library set to open in a little over a year.
For years, locals have dealt with the small and sometimes crowded library on Broad Street. The goal at this new location is to provide a sense of community by offering resources for kids in the neighborhood.
The new two-story, 13,000-square-foot building will become the largest branch library in the City of Hartford, providing much needed community resources to an already vibrant retail and residential neighborhood. The new library will include a 150-seat community room, learning lab, meeting rooms, a café, exhibit space and designated adult, teen and children’s areas along with a protected courtyard.
The $12.5 million project will be funded by an $11.1 million grant from the State of Connecticut Bond Commission and a $1 million grant from the Connecticut State Library. The City of Hartford provided additional funds.
Oraquel Calderon loves her Hartford neighborhood and believes the new library is a gold mind for students.
“To build this library is a good thing for the children,” said Calderon. “Sometimes they don't have anything to do, they're bored and they can come over here and learn."
Calderon says she’s dealt with the issue for more than 30 years.
"It's more spacious and this building has a lot of potential and I'm glad that they thought about putting the library here,” said Calderon.
The library is set to be the city’s largest branch and revitalize a once prominent city corner.
Bridget Quinn-Carey is the CEO of Hartford Public Library.
"It will really be an amazing dynamic space for families and kids for adults, for everybody,” said Quinn Carey. “This will create an entirely new experience for them.”
Quinn-Carey says it’s a plan that’s been in the works for 25 years.
"This community has been advocating for a new library for a long time,” said Quinn-Carey. “It really is also a stimulus for economic development, the properties around will hopefully see some investment as well.”
Nearly two blocks away, visitors still shuffle inside to read their favorite novels, meet-up with colleagues and access the internet.
Anibal Ortega just moved back to Broad Street and is glad the next generation has a resource like this at their disposal.
“I think it will change the community for the better because kids need education,” said Ortega. “"This will probably help kids realize the importance of public libraries and their impact."
CEO Bridget Quinn-Carey, Hartford Public Library Board Chair Greg Davis, Hartford Public Board Secretary Ana Alfaro were joined by Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz, State Senator John Fonfara, State Representative Minnie Gonzalez, Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin, CT State Librarian Kendall F. Wiggin, and Hartford Architect Tai Soo Kim.