Wednesday, December 18th the Downtown Atrium was filled with guests during the lunch hour for a beautiful performance from Hartford Symphony Orchestra’s Jazz Ensemble. Sponsored by Travelers, this program was in conjunction with Musical Dialogues, a program through Hartford Symphony Orchestra.

This performance included holiday classics that the audience could surely hum and tap along to. Patrons came with a book, a smile or their lunch to sit and enjoy the hour long performance from the sextet. Edward Rozie led the ensemble which included himself on the bass, pianist-Walt Gwardyak, on drums-Gene Bozzi, on the saxophone-Bob Depalma, on trumpet-Scott McIntosh, and on the violin-Michael Pollard. The six together created beautiful harmonies, which you could see in their expressions, were a joy to play.

The audience was having fun too learning and dancing along to the jazz renditions of classic songs like “Christmas Time is Here” from Charlie Brown’s Christmas and “Walking in a Winter Wonderland”. Children were walking overhead and stopped to point out the noise below and had their parents wait as they danced along to the tunes. People came from outside of Hartford to enjoy the orchestra’s performance. And patrons stopped what they were doing in the Library to come and close their eyes as they listened and swayed to the tunes.

Musical Dialogues is a unique series of free performances from Hartford Symphony Orchestra that not only provides musical performances to the public for free but provides the audience with an education on the style of music, their instruments, and mostly the songs themselves in this case. Before the ensemble played “I’ll be Home for Christmas” Rozie gave a kind acknowledgment to the veterans in the room and proceeded to explain how their next piece was originally written by Bing Crosby in 1943 to honor the veterans who were longing for home during the holidays. It was interesting facts like this that made the performance one of a kind and special to the audience. Seeing as the public already comes to the Library to read and learn, Musical Dialogues’ lessons were fitting as the performance gave folks the chance to learn about something familiar.

During this time of year it is commonplace to hear “Jingle Bells” and “Deck the Halls” over and over again in the car, at the mall, or even in the office. The jazz ensemble gave beauty to the songs that can be overplayed around this time and brought a real holiday spirit to the Library. It also sparked a discussion on the importance of music education in schools and in the community.

Following the performance, interested audience members stayed to engage in a talk on the importance of music education with Mitchell Korn. Symphony Magazine has called him, “a music education guru”, has taught at Yale, and is currently located at Vanderbelt College teaching at the Blair School of Music. His credibility on the topic informed the audience that Hartford’s music education system is not where it should be. The audience asked questions about what we can do as a community to improve upon this and he encouraged speaking out to superiors within the public school system. Korn informed the audience that children develop critical literacy skills from learning to read and play music; a single fact that should make music education mandatory.

Wednesday’s performance gave patrons and employees a nice break from the day to enjoy holiday classics played live by the orchestra. It was a treat to hear and was followed by an interesting and important discussion. The Library looks forward to future partnerships with Hartford Symphony Orchestra.

2014 was the year of the e-reader! Whether a Kindle, Nook, iPad or any other device, Hartford readers are embracing technology with vigor.

But, what did they read? We’ve got your Top 10 E-Books Downloaded in 2014.

Find all these titles in our catalog!

10. The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Daniel James Brown


For readers of Unbroken, out of the depths of the Depression comes an irresistible story about beating the odds and finding hope in the most desperate of times—the improbable, intimate account of how nine working-class boys from the American West showed the world at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin what true grit really meant.


9. Innocence: A Novel, Dean Koontz

In Innocence, Dean Koontz blends mystery, suspense, and acute insight into the human soul in a masterfully told tale that will resonate with readers forever.


8. Think Like a Freak: The Authors of Freakonomics Offer to Retrain Your Brain, Steven D. Levitt

The New York Times bestselling Freakonomics changed the way we see the world, exposing the hidden side of just about everything. Then came SuperFreakonomics, a documentary film, an award-winning podcast, and more.

Now, with Think Like a Freak, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner have written their most revolutionary book yet. With their trademark blend of captivating storytelling and unconventional analysis, they take us inside their thought process and teach us all to think a bit more productively, more creatively, more rationally—to think, that is, like a Freak.


7. Abundance of Katherines, John Green

No surprise here! The super-popular John Green creates another literary hit with this tale of a guy named Colin and his very specific dating type.Love, friendship, and a dead Austro-Hungarian archduke add up to surprising and heart-changing conclusions in this ingeniously layered comic novel about reinventing oneself.


6. Natchez Burning: Unwritten Laws Series, Book 1, Greg Isles



#1 New York Times bestselling author Greg Iles returns with his most eagerly anticipated novel yet and his first in five years—Natchez Burning—the first installment in an epic trilogy that interweaves crimes, lies, and secrets past and present in a mesmerizing thriller featuring Southern lawyer and former prosecutor Penn Cage.


5. Allegiant: Divergent Trilogy, Book 3, Veronica Roth  


What if your whole world was a lie?
What if a single revelation—like a single choice—changed everything?
What if love and loyalty made you do things you never expected?
The explosive conclusion to Veronica Roth’s #1 New York Times bestselling Divergent trilogy reveals the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers in Divergent and Insurgent.


4. If I Stay, Gayle Forman


In the blink of an eye everything changes. Seventeen ­year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall what happened afterwards, watching her own damaged body being taken from the wreck. Little by little she struggles to put together the pieces- to figure out what she has lost, what she has left, and the very difficult choice she must make. Heartwrenchingly beautiful, this will change the way you look at life, love, and family. Now a major motion picture starring Chloe Grace Moretz, Mia’s story will stay with you for a long, long time.


3. The Invention of Wings: A Novel, Sue Monk Kidd

This exquisitely written novel is a triumph of storytelling that looks with unswerving eyes at a devastating wound in American history, through women whose struggles for liberation, empowerment, and expression will leave no reader unmoved.


2. Divergent: Divergent Trilogy, Book 1, Veronica Roth

This first book in Veronica Roth’s #1 New York Times bestselling Divergent trilogy is the novel the inspired the major motion picture starring Shailene Woodley, Theo James, and Kate Winslet. This dystopian series set in a futuristic Chicago has captured the hearts of millions of teen and adult readers.


1. The Fault in Our Stars, John Green

The big YA hit! Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.



We get it – with over 500,000 different materials in 10 locations, your options for books, music and movies at HPL are.. well.. extensive. So it’s totally understandable that, over the course of the year, you might have overlooked a few gems.

These are the sleepers, the books you may have passed on our shelves and thought “I’ve got to come back for that one!”… and then forgot. Never fear! We’re here to break down our picks fo the Top 10 Most Overlooked Books of 2014. So start your reading engines – we’re giving your 2015 book list a jump start.


10. Annihilation, Jeff VanderMeer 

Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; the second expedition ended in mass suicide, the third expedition in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another. The members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within weeks, all had died of cancer. In Annihilation, the first volume of Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy, we join the twelfth expedition.

Find it in our catalog!



9. The Book of Heaven: A Novel, Patricia Storace

From the author of the classic travel memoir Dinner with Persephone, an accomplished poet, and frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books, here is an eagerly anticipated, stunningly original novel of heartrending lyricism about four women, a fierce mythopoeia that invites us to enter into a new and powerful imagination of the sublime: What if “a woman’s point of view” were God’s?

Find it in our catalog!




8. The Crane Wife, Patrick Ness

A magical novel, based on a Japanese folk tale, that imagines how the life of a broken-hearted man is transformed when he rescues an injured white crane that has landed in his backyard. Witty, magical, and romantic, The Crane Wife is a story of passion and sacrifice, that resonates on the level of dream and myth.  It is a novel that celebrates the creative imagination, and the disruptive power of love.

 Find it in our catalog!



7. Chinese Cooking for Diamond Thieves, Dave Lowry

Driving home after being kicked out of college, Tucker meets and picks up the mysterious Corinne Chang at a rest stop. Infatuated, and with nothing better to do, he ends up with her in St. Louis, where he gets a job as a chef in a Chinese restaurant. Even though he’s a gwai lo—a foreign devil—his cooking skills impress the Chinese patrons of the restaurant, and his wooing skills impress Corinne when she joins him there as a waitress. But when Chinese gangsters show up demanding diamonds they believe Tucker’s kind-of, sort-of, don’t-call-her-a-girlfriend stole, he and his friends—which luckily include a couple of FBI agents—have to figure out just who is gunning for Corinne and how to stop them.

Find it in our catalog!



6. Karate Chop: Stories, Dorthe Nors and Martin Aiken

These fifteen compact stories are meticulously observed glimpses of everyday life that expose the ominous lurking under the ordinary. While his wife sleeps, a husband prowls the Internet, obsessed with female serial killers; a bureaucrat tries to reinvent himself, exposing goodness as artifice when he converts to Buddhism in search of power; a woman sits on the edge of the bed where her lover lies, attempting to locate a motive for his violence within her own self-doubt. Shifting between moments of violence (real and imagined) and mundane contemporary life, these stories encompass the complexity of human emotions, our capacity for cruelty as well as compassion. Not so much minimalist as stealthy, Karate Chop delivers its blows with an understatement that shows a master at work.

Find it in our catalog!


5. The Man Who Walked Away, Maud Casey

In a trance-like state, Albert walks—from Bordeaux to Poitiers, from Chaumont to Macon, and farther afield to Turkey, Austria, Russia—all over Europe. When he walks, he is called a vagrant, a mad man. He is chased out of towns and villages, ridiculed and imprisoned. When the reverie of his walking ends, he’s left wondering where he is, with no memory of how he got there. His past exists only in fleeting images. Loosely based on the case history of Albert Dadas, a psychiatric patient in the hospital of St. André in Bordeaux in the nineteenth century, The Man Who Walked Away imagines Albert’s wanderings and the anguish that caused him to seek treatment with a doctor who would create a diagnosis for him, a narrative for his pain.

Find it in our catalog!


4. Marching to Zion, Mary Glickman

Marching to Zion is the tragic story of Minerva Fishbein and Magnus Bailey, a charismatic black man and the longtime business partner of Minerva’s father. From the brutal riots of East St. Louis to Memphis, Tennessee, during the 1920s and the Depression, Marching to Zion is a tale of passion, betrayal, and redemption during an era in America when interracial love could not go unpunished. Readers of Mary Glickman’s One More River will celebrate the return of Aurora Mae Stanton, who joins a cast of vibrant new characters in this tense and compelling Southern-Jewish novel that examines the price of love and the interventions of fate.

Find it in our catalog!



3. Off Course: A Novel, Michelle Huneven

The year is 1981, Reagan is in the White House, and the country is stalled in a recession. Cressida Hartley, a gifted Ph.D. student in economics, moves into her parents’ shabby A-frame cabin in the Sierras to write her dissertation. In her most intimate and emotionally compelling novel to date, Michelle Huneven–author of Blame, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award–returns with her signature mix of fine-grained storytelling, unforgettable characters, and moral complexity.

Find it in our catalog!


2. Revolutionary, Alex Myers

In 1782, during the final clashes of the Revolutionary War, one of our young nation’s most valiant and beloved soldiers was, secretly, a woman. When Deborah Samson disguised herself as a man and joined the Continental Army, she wasn’t just fighting for America’s independence—she was fighting for her own. Revolutionary, Alex Myers’s richly imagined and meticulously researched debut novel, brings the true story of Deborah’s struggle against a rigid colonial society back to life—and with it the courage, hope, fear, and heartbreak that shaped her journey through a country’s violent birth.

Find it in our catalog!


1. Wind is Not a River, Brian Payton

The Wind Is Not a River is Brian Payton’s gripping tale of survival and an epic love story in which a husband and wife—separated by the only battle of World War II to take place on American soil—fight to reunite in Alaska’s starkly beautiful Aleutian Islands.

Find it in our catalog! 





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.


Encore Search: