The Hartford Public Library will be launching its online Restore & Renew campaign today to allow community members to donate funds toward the restoration costs that will not be covered by insurance after a pipe burst over the Christmas weekend.
Mayor Luke Bronin said that the full scope of the damage to the Hartford Public Library’s downtown facility is still unknown and work is continuing on a complete damage assessment.
One of the complicating factors is the staircase bore the brunt of a lot of the water damage. While it appears to be structurally sound, there is still a lot of work to be done to assess it, he said.
However, no matter what happens, Bronin said, the library and its services will be fully restored as quickly as possible.
Restoration efforts will first focus on the ground and first floors, which suffered the least damage, with the goal of reopening them sometime in the summer.
To accommodate the public, especially those who have made the downtown branch their home, Hartford Public Library President and CEO Bridget E. Quinn said the other Hartford Public Library branches will be expanding their hours.
Every branch library will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays. Only the Park Street and Albany branches will be open on Saturdays. The Park Street branch will be open on Sundays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
The Baby Grand Jazz Series has been moved to the historic Center Church at 60 Gold St., except for the final performance on April 30, which is yet to be determined. Capital Community College will host the library’s English language learning classes and the American Place will continue to help residents at the West Middle School Library branch.
Quinn thanked the library’s community partners for an outpouring of support.
“One of the reasons I love being in Hartford so much is because there was no delay. We started hearing from our partners from the community … we have been able to mobilize, and find alternative spaces for services and programs really much more quickly than we could have ever anticipated because of the network of support here,” she said.
One of the first community partners to offer support was Capital Community College Chief Executive Officer G. Duncan Harris.
“As Mayor Bronin and Bridget alluded to, this is a strong community. And I think Bridget sent a short email, it might have been a few sentences about what was going on. And my response was, what do you need? How can we be helpful? And then we back mapped into a plan. We do have a long standing relationships in terms of support for ESL and ELL students. And so oftentimes, they start [at the library] and they end up at the college. As a result of this, they’ll start at the college a little sooner. We’re glad to see that … and [will] continue to build on that long-standing relationship that we have with the library,” he said.
Lastly, Quinn said that they have not forgotten about the vulnerable community members who have come to rely on the library, including those who come for the day to get out of the elements.
“This library sees many people that come [to the library] for the day [for] either a warming center or cooling center. Vulnerable populations do seek us out. And so that was one of our very, very first concerns of making sure that people know what’s going on. We’ve been trying to communicate through our partners, to make sure that people know where they can go and what resources are available,” she said.
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