One of the hardest things for everyone at Hartford Public Library to deal with during the Covid-19 crisis is the lack of contact with customers.

Despite the difficulties, staff members are finding ways to be responsive and to continue providing service.

Here are just two stories (of many) showing HPL staff members who extend the library beyond its walls into the community.


A man who had recently been released from prison was could not access his W2 form online because he didn’t have access to a computer and had limited technical ability.

Under ordinary circumstances with the library open, Central Library Assistant Jose Santiago was his first point of contact. But with the library closed as a result of the virus, the man was at a loss. He called the library’s main phone line and Elizabeth Davis, the head of circulation and access services, forwarded the call to Park Library Manager Graciela Rivera.

“I think librarians have a very humanistic approach to helping others. At times it requires a team of us to put our efforts together to help someone,” Rivera said.

After contacting Santiago to get a sense of the man’s needs, and Rivera called the man’s former employer and retrieved his information for him. “I e-mailed and texted him a copy,” she said.

This was not a small thing. Not having this documentation could be catastrophic for the man – he needed the paperwork in order to have the financial means necessary to survive.

“I’m glad myself, Jose, and Elizabeth were all able to help,” Rivera said.


When the state started to close in March, Hartford’s Green World Day Care stayed open. Many of the parents who sent their children there were essential workers.

Those children needed activities. Hartford Public Library stepped in.

When the daycare expressed a wish for additional story times, Katherine Trouern-Trend, youth services librarian at the Camp Field Library committed to help. “I think it is important to continue to make connections to our community,” Trouern-Trend said.

She took stock of what children’s books she had at home. Most were in English, so she contacted Marie Jarry, director of public services, who picked up a bunch of Spanish language titles.

With a bit of planning, Trouern-Trend was now doing storytimes in Spanish for the children twice a month. The storytimes are more than entertainment. Many of the children in the program are learning English and contact with library is essential for helping that process along.

“We want to create a message that there is joy in learning,” Trouern-Trend said.

– By Steven Scarpa, Manager, Communications and Public Relations

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