A couple of #unselfies outside Hartford Prints

A couple of #unselfies outside Hartford Prints

Giving Tuesday is a new national day of giving that follows the famous Black Friday and the now rising Cyber Monday. This day encourages folks to donate before the holidays amongst all the shopping hype and is an optimal time for nonprofits to raise funds for just one day.

This year Hartford Public Library is going all out with efforts to raise money on Giving Tuesday (December 2 this year). You will see promotions on our E-Newsletter, our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and balloons….lots of balloons.

The hashtags “#unselfie” and “#givingtuesday” are prominently used across platforms like Twitter and Instagram to promote Giving Tuesday. Posting a “selfie” involves being very self-aware and on Giving Tuesday those organizations that take part hope to encourage people to be a little more self-less. Posting an “#unselfie” and using that hashtag shows one’s self-less-ness and shows others their support for a particular organization.

This notion of being self-less and posting an “unselfie” goes hand in hand with supporting Giving Tuesday rather than Black Friday. On Black Friday people go out in the middle of the night and brave the force of aggressive shoppers to by material items for their families and sometimes themselves. It’s all about getting the best deal. Giving Tuesday is the opposite. It’s all about giving to others.

To use the #unselfie, the HPL development team will be going around with balloons in the HPL colors and telling people about Giving Tuesday. They will be walking around to branches and popular city destinations while holding a bunch of floating balloons. As they pass people they will hand them postcards with information about Giving Tuesday and ask passer-byes to take an #unselfie with the balloon. This will be a fun way to engage with the community and gain awareness for the Library and Giving Tuesday.

All of the #unselfies that are taken will be posted on a special album on facebook.com/hartfordpubliclibrary for all to see.

Of course all of this effort and all of these balloons are to promote one thing….giving to the Library. These donations will foster learning in our youngest readers, provide critical resources to the city, provide citizenship services to Hartford’s immigrant population, support free job and career guidance, and so much more. Giving Tuesday is an excellent way for us to encourage patrons and the people of Hartford to give back to the place like no other, the Hartford Public Library.

If you would like to learn more about Giving Tuesday at the Library or kindly give a donation, click here.

Hartford Through Time
Now on sale! Get yours today:

Hartford Public Library is pleased to announce the publication of Hartford Through Time, a new release from its Hartford History Center, featuring never-before-published images of early 20th-century Hartford, juxtaposed with matching color photographs of the city in present day.

Hartford Through Time features over 90 before-and-after street scenes created from glass plate negatives from the collection of the Hartford History Center.  These images were painstakingly processed by professional Library volunteers and staff, featuring captions by historian Wilson H. Faude and modern photography by Hartford News editor Andy Hart.

Broad Street at Farmington Ave 1914 and 2014

Broad Street at Farmington Ave 1914 and 2014

These images tell the story of the changes – and constants – in Hartford’s built environment and bring back the story that time has blurred or erased.  From Bushnell Park in 1915, to Downtown Hartford and out into the neighborhoods, former and current Hartford residents will delight in the journey back to remember the capital city of yesteryear.

Hartford Through Time makes a wonderful gift and conversation starter for friends and family around the holidays and will be on sale for $22.99, beginning December 3 at the Hartford History Center, located on the Downtown Library’s 3rd Floor at 500 Main Street. Call 860-695-6297 for more information. Proceeds benefit Hartford History Center programs and events.

A book launch and celebratory reception will be held on December 3 at 5:30 p.m. at the Hartford History Center. The reception is free and open to the public, and copies of Hartford Through Time will be available for purchase.


State House Square 1913 and 2014

State House Square 1913 and 2014

A_Balkun_Grocer's Dilemma


We’re excited to announce the December 5th opening of UPcycled Sampler, an exhibit by Anita Gangi Balkun, at our Downtown ArtWalk gallery! The exhibit includes a large hanging installation piece designed specifically for the ArtWalk, and will be on display during regular Library hours through January 9, 2015.

A celebratory reception with the artist will take place on the night of December 5th from 6:00-8:00 p.m. and is free and open to the public. Visitors to the 25th Annual Open Studio Hartford Weekend will be able to view a sneak peek of the exhibit on Saturday and Sunday November 15 and 16 from 1:00-3:00 p.m., and have the opportunity to take part in the completion of the installation.

“My work reuses stuff headed for the recycle bin or trash and transforms it into unexpected forms,” Balkun explains. UPcycled Sampler contains materials such as packing peanuts, construction fencing, and newspaper. The artist says she “often search[es] for content within the history of the object – its use or its journey – and use[es] that information as a springboard to the form.”

Anita Gangi Balkun

Anita Gangi Balkun

A resident of West Hartford, Balkun received her M.F.A. from the Hartford Art School at the University of Hartford and a B.A. from Central Connecticut State University. She has been featured in various exhibits throughout Connecticut and is the recipient of several awards, most recently earning 2nd Place in the West Hartford Art League’s 2014 CT+6 Regional Juried Exhibit.

The ArtWalk at Hartford Public Library is located at 500 Main Street, Hartford. For more information, please visit artwalk.hplct.org.




Visit ghclff.com for more information!latino film fest

HPLFlyers14-1 english

Recently HPL was the receiver of three different grants that totaled an extraordinary amount of $50,000! Wow! Thank you to The Connecticut Department of Education, the New Alliance Foundation, and Wells Fargo. These three grants will support critical free programs the Library provides to Hartford adults, children, and families.

Here is a breakdown on each of the grants:

The Connecticut Department of Education-Bureau of Health/Nutrition, Family Services, and Adult Education awarded HPL funding in the amount of $35,000. That money will fund a 2015 Adult Education Program Improvement Project supporting English language learning and civic participation for low-literate immigrant populations. One of the greatest achievements of HPL is how many immigrants and refugees that we are able to help. We offer numerous classes to help children and adults to get acquainted to living in an American neighborhood and this fund helps us to continue to do that.

Wells Fargo gave HPL $10,000 that will go towards funding for a YOUmedia Core Programming Initiative (YCPI). This is a program that will essentially allow us to do critical research on our brand new, teens only, digital learning lab, YOUmedia. Being the first in Connecticut, and only the third in the whole country, it is critical to do research on this facility. YCPI will develop a programming model, acting as a test for the center’s first year of activity. This “test” will see how students are engaging inside it, how they are learning, etc. All of this will be done through marketing, program testing, and a pilot program.

The New Alliance Foundation awarded the Library $5,000 to support WordPlay Storytimes, an innovative program to help English Language Learners ages 2-5 and their parents/caregivers across all ten locations of the Hartford Public Library. This program will help to acclimatize immigrant and refugee children to a new cultural environment by utilizing common themes of letters, numbers, colors, shapes, and feelings, as well as well-known folktales that build cultural literacy and comfort.


Thank you to all three of our donors for these outstanding grants! With their help we can continue to be a place like no other!

By Christi Jensen, Communications Intern

Did you notice this past Friday that Arch Street was closed down for the morning? Did you hear HPL mentioned on the news that day? Or maybe some of you knew that the library was given two large Romare Bearden murals. Either way, we are so excited to have such beautiful paintings in our building. Friday morning we shut down the Library to move in the two massive murals through a bank of windows on the Arch Street side of the Library. The media, employees of the library, and others watched in awe as Mariano Brothers delicately moved the murals inside the windows and onto their new homes; the walls of HPL! It was a process that will never be forgotten at the Library, but we are proud of how smoothly the move went and how great they look in the space.

Mural movement

Sports-themed mural, “Olympics,” being moved in through a bank of windows.

Romare Bearden (1911 – 1988) was a Harlem Renaissance painter who was described by the New York Times as, “the nation’s foremost collagist”. His art was inspired by the unity and cooperation within the African-American community and the importance of an artist in the struggle for civil rights. Both paintings that are now in the Library are collages with two different themes. The mural looking over the computers in the Job and Career Center being sports and the one above the Atrium is a music and art theme. Both are so vibrant and colorful, the light beaming in through all the windows highlights them perfectly.

Romare Bearden

Romare Bearden

We find that the paintings fit perfectly in our space for a few reasons. The walls that both of the paintings are hanging on were so large and empty before Bearden’s work livened them up. Now that they are there it’s hard to believe we never had any artwork on those walls before. Bearden’s work and what it symbolizes is fitting for the community of Hartford and the Library. In a city of so much diversity, it seems fitting to have the work of a Harlem Renaissance painter hanging in a public space for all to see.

We are happy to welcome all to come and see the new addition to the library at any time the library is open. You can read more about the details of the move and more about the murals specifically here.

Mural hanging

Art and music-themed, “Untitled,” is carefully hung above our atrium.

darko tony


Spend a special evening at HPL with Hartford Stage’s Tony Award-winning Director Darko Tresnjak!

As a key event in the Hartford Public Library’s  One Book/One Hartford annual series of programs this fall, Tresnjak, together with Hartford Public Library CEO Matthew K. Poland,  will lead a lively discussion of Art Spiegelman’s powerful graphic novel, In the Shadow of No Towers,  and how well the format of the graphic novel works in the telling of this story about the events of 9/11. The 6 p.m. event scheduled for Thursday, October 23, in the Atrium of the Downtown Library, is free and open to all.

Recognizing the boundary-bending nature of the graphic novel, Hartford Public Library is bringing emphasis and attention to the genre for this year’s One Book/One Hartford.

“The graphic novel has become an extremely important part of America’s book culture,” said Poland. “As part of our One Book/One Hartford programming for this year, we wanted to both build on American Library Association support for the graphic novel, and create a program that would allow us to examine a major national and international event through Darko Tresnjak’s eyes. He is a citizen of the world, and brings that perspective to the discussion, but is also deeply involved in the world and culture of Hartford as artistic director at Hartford Stage.”

Darko Tresnjak has been the artistic director of the Hartford Stage Company since 2011, and earlier this year won a Tony Award for his direction of A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, currently on Broadway. He grew up in Yugoslavia, Poland, and the United States, and previously served as artistic director at the Old Globe Shakespeare Festival in San Diego.

“I was intrigued from the moment I heard the title of Art Spiegelman’s book because in September 2001, I lived in the West Village, literally in the shadow of the towers. I look forward to talking about this book,”  said Tresnjak.

Pulitzer Prize-winner Spiegelman’s large-format illustrated novel was published in 2004 by Pantheon Books, and was described by Salon as a “dark, troubling and sometimes hilarious comic” that may be “the finest and most personal work of art to emerge from the tragedy.”  The New York Times praised it as “an intimate memoir of the attacks on the World Trade Center.” No stranger to controversial topics, Spiegelman won the Pulitzer Prize in 1992 for his book Maus, the story of his family and the Holocaust told through the medium of a comic book.

Image via Broadway World

It’s true: everyone is so busy, running from work to home to school to after-school activities and beyond.  When is there a chance for us to take the time to honor and celebrate our family and friendships or share our wonderful cultures and traditions with others?

A new Multicultural Neighborhood Place might provide just the answer, thanks to an initiative by the Asylum Hill Neighborhood Association (AHNA) and Hartford Public Library.   To launch this new venture, on Tuesday evening, September 16, 2014, over 50 Asylum Hill residents gathered at the Lincoln Technical Institute for dinner and brainstorming about what they envision taking place at the Neighborhood Place.  The international diversity of Hartford’s population was well represented with attendees from the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Cameroon, Nigeria, Peru, Ethiopia, Burma, Thailand, Bhutan, Nepal, and Albania, as well as the United States.


After self-introductions all around, co-facilitators Linda Bayer and Jim Boucher gave an overview of the project, including slides of urban and suburban neighborhood centers in other parts of the country, and then they opened the floor to discussion.  After all, as the co-facilitators emphasized to the group, “It is your work that will make this happen.”   To that end, during September, October, and November, Asylum Hill residents have the opportunity to participate in one of five focus groups to tease out the why’s, how’s, and where’s of establishing a neighborhood place. To ease communication, the groups are divided into age and language groups:  youth, Arabic and Middle Eastern languages, Bhutanese and Nepalese, African languages, and Karen.  The series will culminate in a report and celebration over dinner in mid-November, as the various groups come together and share their ideas and visions of a neighborhood place open to all residents.

Padam Bharati of Bhutan interpreting from English into Nepalese and Bhutanese.

Padam Bharati of Bhutan interpreting from English into Nepalese and Bhutanese.

Yet even at this preliminary meeting, the enthusiasm was evident as participants generated a long list of possible uses for this communal gathering place.  There was no shortage of ideas as people suggested a helping center for homework, a location for the elderly to congregate, a kitchen, a place for studying, sports, cultural and arts events, dance classes, employment services, English and computer classes, community theater, and a place to relax.

Co-facilitators Jim Boucher (standing) and Linda Bayer (sitting, bottom left) leading the group in a lively discussion about the Neighborhood Place.

Co-facilitators Jim Boucher (standing) and Linda Bayer (sitting, bottom left) leading the group in a lively discussion about the Neighborhood Place.

There was also discussion of the steps involved to make the center successful and sustainable, such as who are the stakeholders, what is the mission statement, will there be by-laws, how will the center be financed and supported, who will run and administer it, and so on.  All of these questions will be answered as the process unfolds.  For now the journey has just begun.

If you are interested in joining one of the focus groups or helping to make this neighborhood place a reality, please call 860-695-6316 or email: ncaddigan@hplct.org.

By Judy Wyman Kelly

Student holds library card

Jama, a former teen leader at the Hartford Public Library Camp Field Branch, shows off his best accessory – his library card.

Every parent wants their child to succeed, and one of the simplest ways you can ensure your child’s academic success is by making a quick trip to the library. September is Library Card Sign-up Month, a time when Hartford Public Library (HPL) joins with the American Library Association and public libraries nationwide to make sure that every student has the most important school supply of all – a free library card.

With a library card, students can turn to the library for educational materials not found in schools, use computers, receive help with research, and utilize programs and services that support academic achievement.  In the past year, HPL provided more than 38,000 computer sessions to Hartford students.

In addition to in-person resources, a Hartford Public Library card offers access to important online educational and research opportunities, including a full catalog of ebooks, magazine, journal and newspaper articles, Worldcrunch global newspaper database, music, movies, and more.

“Our library provides a safe and welcoming atmosphere where students young and old can explore, discover and create,” says Matt Poland, Hartford Public Library CEO. “Students learn in a variety of ways, and thanks to the resources available at the library we can meet the needs of all ages and types of learners. Whether through homework help, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) programs or access print and e-books, the library has something for everyone – all free with a library card. That’s why a library card is the most important school supply of all.”

New library card applicants of all ages may sign up at any HPL location with a valid state photo identification card (students may use their school IDs) and proof of address, and parents can even register younger children for their own card. Residents living outside Hartford may also sign up for a Hartford Public Library card by bringing in their hometown library card, and enjoy many of the free resources available at the city branches.

Every new card applicant this month will receive a discount to The Kitchen at Hartford Public Library – 10% off  some of the best food in the city!

For more information on how to sign up for a library card, visit the any Hartford Public Library location in person or visit the library online at hplct.org.


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Matt Poland

Matt Poland, Library’s Chief Executive Officer

Thea Montanez

Thea Montanez, President of the Library’s Board of Directors

Rachel Gary

Rachel Gary, Library’s Communications Manager