HPL Events

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.


Commissioners Photo

Newly-appointed commissioners pose for a photo after receiving thank you gifts from the City of Hartford. From left to right: Dean Rhoden, Rebecca Thomas, Rio Comaduran, Balam Soto, Georges Kingsley and Eva Jacobson.

On a recent lovely summer evening, I made my way to the 19th floor of a Hartford skyscraper for a very special reception honoring some of the city’s most hard-working volunteers.   Generously hosted by the law firm Shipman & Goodwin, the locale offered a panoramic view of downtown Hartford, the majestic Connecticut River, and the state’s many rolling hills off in the distance. It was a view “one doesn’t get to see very often,” exclaimed one of the guests.

I had come to support and thank the newly-appointed members of the Hartford Commission on Refugee and Immigrant Affairs (CRIA).  With backing from the Hartford Public Library, the Hartford City Council, and the Mayor, the 21-person Commission will help refugees and immigrants engage in civic life, provide a forum for their ideas and concerns, and facilitate entry to the city for all new arrivals.

Dining on delicious appetizers and sipping refreshing cocktails, members of the various boards and commissions chatted and shared stories.  Dr. Rebecca Thomas of the University of Connecticut School of Social Work and an immigrant from India, shared some of her reasons for joining the Commission, “I have benefited from an education, interaction and engagement with my adopted country, and I would like to share some practical insights to a policy body that can effect change and work with the members of the Commission to best meet the needs of immigrants and the host communities.”

Rio Comaduran, born and raised in the U.S., said she “hopes to continue to bring immigrant and refugee issues to the forefront, ultimately affecting policy shifts and changes at the city level, and at the same time encouraging civic engagement and social capital building amongst immigrants.  And as a proud Hartford resident and grand-daughter of Mexican immigrants, there’s really nothing better! ”

Mayor Pedro Segarra thanked all of the volunteers and commissioners for their service, spending some time with the new CRIA members—American citizens Thomas, Comaduran, and Eva Jacobson, as well as Georges Kingsley Anan, a recent immigrant from Cote d’Ivoire, Dean Rhoden of Jamaica, and Balam Soto of Guatemala.  Mayor Segarra commented, “Hartford has always been a city of immigrants – from its founding to the present day. I am so excited about the new Commission.  We can help our new arrivals with their dreams and aspirations and they will contribute to the health and vibrancy of our city.”


Judy Wyman Kelly is a consultant for the Hartford Public Library’s The American Place, a center for immigration and citizenship, and a lecturer at the University of Hartford.





Calling All Artists!

ArtWalk at HPL offers one of the largest and most stunning exhibition spaces in Hartford, and we’re looking for artists to showcase in the 2015 ArtWalk series! Located on the 3rd floor of the Downtown Library in a space that looks down onto historic Main Street, the gallery offers unique visibility and exposure, adding to the increasing vibrancy of Downtown Hartford. The ArtWalk hanging system’s movable panels allow maximum flexibility for each show.

The stunning state-of-the-art gallery was made possible through the generosity of donors, especially the Beatrice Fox Auerbach Foundation at Hartford Foundation for Public Giving.

Seeking Submissions:

The ArtWalk puts on four exhibitions each year. Artists are invited to submit a body of work to be considered for the following year’s exhibitions between August 1st and October 1st. From these submissions, the four shows for the following year are chosen.


Artists living and/or working in the Greater Hartford area will be given priority. Students, emerging, or established artists are all eligible. Artists must have a body of work sufficient for exhibition on the ArtWalk by the date of the exhibition. Artists working in all media are encouraged to apply.


A jury will select up to four artists with final approval from the Library. Criteria for selection include but are not limited to:  1) an artist’s resume or vitae and demonstrated ability, 2) an appropriate body of work that is compatible with the ArtWalk space, and 3) the ability to provide sufficient work ready for installation by an agreed-upon date.

Installations designed specifically for ArtWalk are encouraged. The jury will also consider the economic and physical feasibility of the proposed exhibitions. The jury may also recommend group exhibitions.

Selected Artists:

The selected artist(s) will generally receive a solo exhibition (although the Library reserves the right to create exhibitions for multiple artists simultaneously), supporting marketing, an opening night reception, and an opportunity to present an artist talk to the public during the exhibition.


1) Documentation of Work – Up to six images of recent, current work or the work specifically being proposed for the exhibition on the ArtWalk on a clearly labeled CD-ROM/USB drive – jpegs only. (Physical work – slides, photographs, will not be considered. All work must be submitted digitally)

2) Include title, dimensions and medium for each image submitted

3) Up to three minutes of new media work will be viewed by jurors (clearly mark and cue the segment to be viewed)

4) A current resume with contact information including address, phone number and e-mail

5) A brief artist’s statement

6) Description and scope of proposed exhibition

If you would like your submission returned to you, please include with your application a self-addressed stamped envelope sufficient to return material. Otherwise materials will not be returned.


Materials must be postmarked no later than October 1st.

Send to:

Andrea Figueroa

Executive Assistant

Hartford Public Library

500 Main Street

Hartford, CT 06103


Artist(s) selected by the jury will be notified by phone and email no later than October 31st.

Good luck!



The start of summer may be a highly-anticipated break for all kids, but research shows that low-income students that do not continue educational programming during the summer suffer greater achievement losses, gain more weight, and become less likely to graduate high school than their more affluent peers. In order to fill this critical learning gap, Hartford Public Library’s Summer Learning Program encourages reading and enrichment throughout the hotter months with a citywide educational events, activities, and prizes. To celebrate the start of the 2014 Summer Learning @ HPL Program, the public is invited to attend an outdoor kickoff festival on Saturday, June 7 from 1 – 4 p.m. at the Library’s Downtown location!

The festival will incorporate the theme of this year’s Summer Learning Program, “Fizz Boom READ!” with science activities, crafts, games, and a special 3:00 p.m. Mad Science show. A bounce house, giant slide, face painting, airbrush tattoos, snacks, music and more will be free for all. Last year’s kick-off broke attendance records with 900 kids and families having a blast! The festival will stretch from the Downtown Library at 500 Main Street to the Burr Mall, and free transportation will be available throughout the city via buses that will run between Library branches and Downtown Hartford.

In addition to the festival fun, attendees will have the opportunity to learn about and register for the Summer Learning Program and how to win prizes for reaching summer reading goals. Designed to maintain yearlong learning in an attempt to reduce summer learning loss in students of all ages, students move directly from school-year activities into Summer Learning @ HPL so that the “learning ball” is never dropped, and parents with limited skills or access do not need to actively pursue educational opportunities in order for their children to achieve success.  Program participants are challenged to read daily and log their participation in order to win prizes.  Hartford Public Library’s Summer Learning Program has seen huge success in recent years – participation increased from 300 students in 2011 to over 6,500 students in 2013.

This year, in partnership with Mega Education, a series of 10 Summer Learning registration ice cream parties will be held throughout the summer, where two lucky registered participants at each Library branch will win brand new Android tablets!

Mega Registration parties are held from 2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. at the following locations:

Tuesday, June 24 – Mark Twain Branch, 55 Forest Street

Friday, June 26 – Barbour Branch, 259 Barbour Street

Thursday, July 3 – Blue Hills Branch, 649 Blue Hills Avenue

Tuesday, July 8    Ropkins Branch, 1750 Main Street

Tuesday, July 15 – Camp Field Branch, 30 Campfield Avenue

Friday, July 18 – Albany Branch, 1250 Albany Avenue

Tuesday, July 22 – Downtown Library, 500 Main Street

Wednesday, July 30 – Park Branch, 744 Park Street

Thursday, July 31 – Dwight Branch, 7 New Park Avenue

Friday, August 8  – Goodwin Branch, 460 New Britain Avenue

Registration for the Summer Learning program can also be completed at the June 7 kickoff, or online at www.hplct.org by clicking on the summer sun.


Library Offers Adult Summer Reading Events!

Hartford Public Library’s summer programs and prizes are not just for the school-aged! Adult readers are invited to participate in Library Book Club summer discussions:

Thursday, June 19, 12:30 p.m. – Book Talk with James Rouman, author of Uncertain Journey

Thursday, July 17 – Book Club Discussion – Delicious! A Novel by Ruth Reichl

Thursday, August 21 – Book Club Discussion – Aya of Yop City by Marguerite Abouet

Registered participants are eligible to win prizes at each event! Adult readers may register for the Summer Reading Program online at www.hplct.org or at any Library branch.

Teachers, administrators, librarians and summer program providers: Join us for this FREE, daylong seminar and learn how to develop, plan, and evaluate effective summer learning programming!

HPL Receives Surprise NewAlliance High Impact Literacy Award

Woah! On Thursday, April 24, we were blown away by receiving  a surprise grant award of $25,000 from NewAlliance Foundation in support of the our dedication to providing access to literacy education to all Hartford residents. The “Hi-5” High Impact Literacy Award is granted annually to an organization in the NewAlliance Foundation service area that embodies the five attributes the Foundation wishes to honor in the field of literacy: vision, responsiveness, innovation, spirit and results.


“Literacy is critical to the success of Hartford’s youth, adults, and the community. Our commitment to literacy is at the core of our mission, and inspires what we do here each and every day,” said Matt Poland, CEO of Hartford Public Library. “We are thrilled to receive this unexpected award, which will allow us to continue to provide innovative educational programming and improve literacy skills for residents throughout the city.”


We offer an array of literacy programs for children and adults at our nine branches and Downtown location:


  • The Library’s many early-literacy programs, resources and technologies provide access to the materials and skills that Hartford’s youngest students need to enter school prepared to learn and achieve educational success.


  •  Each summer, thousands of Hartford students participate in the Library’s Great Summer Read, the only provider of programming, encouragement and free access to literacy materials during the summer.


  • Hartford Public Library’s literacy programming redefines traditional education by extending to student of all ages a variety of year-round programs, free and open to all. These include English-as-Second-Language (ESL) classes, computer, health, and financial literacy programs


  • A recent partnership with Hartford Public Schools allows the Library to maximize access to its services for city students, parents, and educators.


“We’re very impressed with Hartford Public Library’s dedication to the community, and to addressing the critical gap in education and literacy services that exists for many Hartford residents,” said Kim Healey, Executive Director of Newalliance Foundation. “The programming provided by the Library makes a wide variety of learning and literacy skills available to all, and is a truly invaluable service. We’re pleased to be able to support its continued innovation, vision, and results.”

Thank you, NewAlliance Foundation, for your generous support! These are the kinds of surprises we could REALLY get used to!

 Libraries Transforming Communities Logo

The American Library Association (ALA) has selected Hartford Public Library as one of 10 public libraries that will undergo an intensive 18-month, team-based community engagement training program as part of the Libraries Transforming Communities (LTC) Public Innovators Cohort.


The cohort, selected through a highly competitive peer-reviewed application process, is part of ALA’s LTC initiative, a national plan to help librarians strengthen their role as core community leaders and change-agents.


Through in-person training, webinars and coaching — valued at $50,000 — a team of five Hartford Public Library staff members, led by CEO Matthew K. Poland, will learn new community engagement techniques and apply them to challenges in the City of Hartford. The library will also receive an $8,000 cash grant to help cover the cost of new community-engagement work.


“Libraries are at the heart of the community, and civic engagement is at the heart of where the public library is going in the 21st century. We are this democratic place where opinions are heard, resources are universally available, everyone is welcome, and programs are offered about things that matter in the community,” says Poland. “Successful civic engagement requires a combination of knowledge, skills, values, and motivation to make a difference in the community so we look forward to developing our competencies through this wonderful opportunity.”

The selected libraries represent the range of American communities in terms of size, location, ethnic and racial diversity and socioeconomic status, and they all face challenges including illiteracy; unemployment; a “digital divide” in access to information technology; an influx of new and immigrant populations; and disparate access to services.


Other members of the LTC Public Innovators Cohort include:


  • Red Hook (N.Y.) Public Library (pop: 1,900)
  • Columbus (Wis.) Public Library (pop: 5,000)
  • Knox County (Ind.) Public Library (pop: 33,900)
  • Suffolk (Va.) Public Library (pop: 85,000)
  • Springfield (Mass.) City Library (pop:  153,000)
  • Tuscaloosa (Ala.) Public Library (pop: 195,000)
  • Spokane County (Wash.) Library District (pop: 255,000)
  • San Jose (Calif.) Public Library (pop: 980,000)
  • Los Angeles (Calif.) Public Library (pop: 3.8 million)


“Public libraries have long served as trusted and treasured institutions, and librarians today can leverage that strong position for the betterment of their communities,” said ALA President Barbara Stripling. “As a longtime champion of library-led community engagement and innovation, ALA is primed to provide the tools and support that will enable librarians to more effectively fulfill this vital role.”


In partnership with The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation, Libraries Transforming Communities addresses a critical need within the library field by developing and distributing new tools, resources and support for librarians to engage with their communities in new ways. Libraries Transforming Communities is made possible through a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.


Libraries Transforming Communities is grounded in The Harwood Institute’s approach of “turning outward,” which emphasizes changing the orientation of institutions and individuals from internal (institutional) to external (community-facing).

For more information on Libraries Transforming Communities, visit http://www.ala.org/transforminglibraries/libraries-transforming-communities.


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