Hartford Public Library President and CEO Bridget E. Quinn, right, leads a panel discussion on closing the digital divide with, from left: Maureen Magnan, Deputy Commissioner, Department of Consumer Protection; Ajit Gopalakrishnan, Chief Performance Officer, State Department of Education; Nora Duncan, State Director, Connecticut AARP; and Doug Casey, Executive Director, Commission for Educational Technology.

Hartford Public Library President and CEO Bridget E. Quinn, right, leads a panel discussion on closing the digital divide with, from left: Maureen Magnan, Deputy Commissioner, Department of Consumer Protection; Ajit Gopalakrishnan, Chief Performance Officer, State Department of Education; Nora Duncan, State Director, Connecticut AARP; Eileen Rhodes, Interim Director, Connecticut State Community College Library; and Doug Casey, Executive Director, Commission for Educational Technology.

To mark Digital Inclusion Week (Oct. 4-8), Hartford Public Library welcomed state officials to the Center for Contemporary Culture at the Downtown Library on Thursday, Oct. 7, for a discussion on efforts to close the digital divide in Connecticut.

Click here to watch a recording.

Panelists included Maureen Magnan, deputy commissioner of the state Department of Consumer Protection; Ajit Gopalakrishnan, chief performance officer at the state Department of Education; Nora Duncan, state director of Connecticut AARP; Eileen Rhodes, interim director of the Connecticut State Community College Library; and Doug Casey, executive director of the state Commission for Educational Technology.

“Digital literacy is more than just an educational concern,” said Hartford Public Library President and CEO Bridget E. Quinn. “The pervasiveness of the digital divide is a social justice issue, preventing the vulnerable in our communities from improving their lives and providing for their families. The fallout from this problem is wide-reaching. The areas with the least connectivity are also the most economically disadvantaged, something the COVID-19 pandemic has really brought to light.”

Listed below are some of the resources that were shared during the discussion:

Emergency Broadband Benefit

The Emergency Broadband Benefit will provide a discount of up to $50 per month towards broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers if they contribute more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price.

Who Is Eligible for the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program?

A household is eligible if a member of the household meets one of the criteria below:

  • Has an income that is at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or participates in certain assistance programs, such as SNAP, Medicaid, or Lifeline;
  • Approved to receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision, in the 2019-2020, 2020-2021, or 2021-2022 school year;
  • Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year;
  • Experienced a substantial loss of income due to job loss or furlough since February 29, 2020 and the household had a total income in 2020 at or below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers; or
  • Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating provider’s existing low-income or COVID-19 program.

Click here to apply.

Senior Planet

Senior Planet from AARP harnesses technology to change the way we age. Our courses, programs, and activities help seniors learn new skills, save money, get in shape, and make new friends.

Senior Planet is about much more than just the latest gadgets and apps and websites. Those gadgets and apps and websites are just means to an end: enabling older adults and people of all ages to come together and find ways to learn, work, create, and thrive in today’s digital age.

Wherever you are in the world, you can subscribe to our newsletters and participate online. If you’re near one of our physical locations, even better! We’re active on the ground in six U.S. locations (with more coming soon).

Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection

Scammers often use “click bait”, or ads that appeal to you on social media, and send you threatening emails or texts with the hope that you reply with personal information, or click on a link that will allow them to access your personal information.

These resources have ideas help you and your family stay safe online:

Banned Books Week, from Sept. 26-Oct. 2, is the annual celebration of the freedom to read.Hartford Public Library is proud to be part of a larger community that supports and encourages the freedom to express ideas, even those considered unpopular. Through books we can reach across boundaries and build new connections.

Below is the list of the Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2020, as reported by the American Library Association. The list is based on information from the media and reports sent from across the U.S. Interested in a title on the list? Search our catalog HERE.

1. George by Alex Gino
Reasons: Challenged, banned, and restricted for LGBTQIA+ content, conflicting with a religious viewpoint, and not reflecting “the values of our community.”

2. Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds
Reasons: Banned and challenged because of author’s public statements, and because of claims that the book contains “selective storytelling incidents” and does not encompass racism against all people.

3. All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
Reasons: Banned and challenged for profanity, drug use, and alcoholism, and because it was thought to promote anti-police views, contain divisive topics, and be “too much of a sensitive matter right now.”

4. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Reasons: Banned, challenged, and restricted because it was thought to contain a political viewpoint and it was claimed to be biased against male students, and for the novel’s inclusion of rape and profanity.

5. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Reasons: Banned and challenged for profanity, sexual references, and allegations of sexual misconduct by the author.

6. Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story About Racial Injustice by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard, illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin
Reasons: Challenged for “divisive language” and because it was thought to promote anti-police views.

7. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Reasons: Banned and challenged for racial slurs and their negative effect on students, featuring a “white savior” character, and its perception of the Black experience.

8. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Reasons: Banned and challenged for racial slurs and racist stereotypes, and their negative effect on students.

9. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Reasons: Banned and challenged because it was considered sexually explicit and depicts child sexual abuse.

10. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Reasons: Challenged for profanity, and it was thought to promote an anti-police message.

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Hartford Public Library invites the community to a daylong celebration on Saturday, Oct. 2 to mark the grand opening of the new Park Street Library @ the Lyric!

The festivities will begin in the morning with art activities at the Art Box (777 Park St.) followed by a parade to the new library (603 Park St.). At the library there will be live music, food trucks, activities for kids and open access to come inside and tour the brand new space.

RSVP on Facebook HERE

DAY’S EVENTS:
10 a.m. to 1 p.m. – Art activities at the Art Box, including painting of Southside Institutions Neighborhood Alliance Frog Hollow heroes murals
11 a.m. – Puppet show, presented by Hispanic Health Council
1 p.m. – Colors of Frog Hollow Community Parade from Art Box to Park Street Library @ the Lyric (Wear a shirt representative of your culture)
2 p.m. to 5 p.m. – Block party celebration

FEATURED PERFORMERS:

De 4 Ahwee & Co. with friends from Trinity Steel, presented by the Trinity College Center for Caribbean Studies
DJ Connie Carmona featuring YOUMedia Hartford teens
Bomba Ashe
Latin Essence Jazz Group
Mariachi Academy of New England

OTHER PROGRAMS:
Voices of Frog Hollow multimedia presentation
Hartford History Center Hartford Public Library branch history exhibit

La Diferente Radio is sponsoring the event and host Jorge Laureano will be emceeing. It will be broadcast live on 1710 AM.

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StoryWalk

The Hartford City Council recently approved a plan by the Hartford Public Library, in partnership with Hartford Athletic and Cigna, to install a permanent StoryWalk display in Colt Park.

The display will consist of a series of 20 interactive podiums that will each feature one to two pages from a children’s book as well as a physical activity to complete while walking to the next podium. The pages will be displayed in English and Spanish. The final page will contain a QR code that will direct users to a website where they can complete a quiz to win Hartford Athletic prizes

“Putting literacy and physical fitness at the forefront, this initiative provides families in the Hartford community with a fun and educational activity that is available to everyone,” Hartford Public Library, Hartford Athletic and Cigna wrote in a letter to Councilwoman Marilyn E. Rossetti, chair of the council’s public works, parks, recreation and environment committee.

The StoryWalk will begin with a podium outside the entrance of Dillon Stadium, continue to the corner of Van Block Avenue and Masseek Street and then enter Colt Park where 18 additional podiums will be placed on the east side of the youth soccer field.

A resolution by Rossetti, Council President Maly Rosado and Councilwoman Shirley Surgeon was included on the consent agenda at the council’s Sept. 13 meeting.

Cigna has agreed to pay $25,000 to cover the cost of the project, including three years of maintenance and upkeep.

The StoryWalk is expected to be completed in mid-October and the Hartford Public Library will replace the book pages and activities on a quarterly basis.

Carlos Hernandez Chávez.

Carlos Hernandez Chavez.

Hispanic Heritage Month begins Sept. 15, and to mark the occasion, the Hartford Public Library is highlighting local artist Carlos Hernández Chavez, a musician, muralist and friend to the library.

Carlos had already established himself as an accomplished artist when he came to Hartford from Mexico City in 1967.

“When I first arrived I might as well have arrived to another planet,” he told The Hartford Courant in 2013. “Everything was just so different even though I spoke English. The newness of the place… it was just mesmerizing. I was told that I was the first Mexican in Hartford. I’m not sure if that was true but I did not meet any Mexicans for many years after 1967.”

Carlos quickly became ingrained in the city’s arts scene and worked for the City of Hartford for 25 years, beginning as a bilingual social worker and ending his career as the top hearing officer for housing and parking violations.

In 2014, his works were featured in the ArtWalk at the Hartford Public Library. The exhibit, “Dialogues: Impromptu Conversations in Color,” included works created in the Carite rain forest in Puerto Rico. Carlos took leaves off plants, coated them with paint and pressed them to paper or canvas.

Over the past year, Carlos has been photographing the progress of the construction of the new Park Street Library @ the Lyric that is scheduled to open at the end of the month.

Hartford Public Library honors and celebrates the history, culture and contributions of our Hispanic and Latino community.

Ana Cuevas works on a scarf during the opening of the Hartford Artisans Weaving Center exhibit at the Hartford Public Library Downtown on Thursday, Sept. 9.

Ana Cuevas works on a scarf during the opening of the Hartford Artisans Weaving Center’s Perspectives on Color exhibit at the Hartford Public Library Downtown on Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021.

Ana Cuevas was born without vision but it hasn’t stopped her from producing finely crafted scarves and other items at the Hartford Artisans Weaving Center.

“My understanding of color is very limited but I like to do things for others to see,” Cuevas, who has been weaving for about four years, said Thursday as she demonstrated her skill at an opening for the center’s Perspectives on Color exhibit at the Hartford Public Library’s Downtown location.

Dozens of items produced by artisans from the weaving center will be on display on the library’s third floor – outside the Hartford History Center – through Oct. 21.

For Johanna Bolduc, who lost her vision in 2002, the center on Woodland Street has been a welcoming environment since she first started training there in 2013.

“It’s the nosiest peaceful place you’ll ever be,” she said, calling the art of weaving a form of “active meditation.”

Garrett Weaver admires a rug he created at the Hartford Artisans Weaving Center during the opening of the center's Perspectives on Color exhibit at the Hartford Public Library Downtown on Sept. 9, 2021.

Garrett Weaver admires a rug he created at the Hartford Artisans Weaving Center during the opening of the center’s Perspectives on Color exhibit at the Hartford Public Library Downtown on Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021.

The center was forced to suspend classes for months during the COVID-19 pandemic but materials were sent home so the men and women who train there could continue working on their craft, said Ann Kollegger, executive director of the nonprofit.

In addition to teaching hand-weaving to people who are blind or visually impaired, the center also offers classes to Hartford-area seniors, like Garrett Weaver, who has a rug on display in the exhibit. He said it took him about three months to produce, start to finish.

Weaver said he’s been weaving for about 25 years and has been working at the center since its start.

“In college I was interested in modern art and math, and it’s a blend of that,” Weaver explained, adding that he uses Microsoft Excel to plot out patterns before getting to work on a project.

Hartford Public Library President and CEO Bridget Quinn, center, talks with Hartford Artisans Weaving Center Executive Director Ann Kolleger. right, and Hartford History Center Education and Outreach Manager Jasmin Agosto, left, during the Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021, opening of the center's Perspectives on Color exhibit.

Hartford Public Library President and CEO Bridget Quinn, center, talks with Hartford Artisans Weaving Center Executive Director Ann Kolleger. right, and Hartford History Center Education and Outreach Manager Jasmin Agosto, left, during the Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021, opening of the center’s Perspectives on Color exhibit.

Cuevas, the artisan who was born without vision, described how she interprets color in a testimonial that is part of the display.

“The color red comes to mind, because I think about the sun,” she wrote. “For me, the sun and the color red means inclusion. The sun provides light and warmth to everyone in the world regardless of race, gender, religion and socioeconomic status.”

For more information visit www.weavingcenter.org.

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The American Place at the Hartford Public Library — which helps immigrants and refugees resettling in the Hartford area — has been awarded the 2021 Partners in International Education Award from the Council on Social Work Education’s Commission on Global Social Work Education for its innovations in education for international social work.

Rebecca Thomas, a social work professor at UConn and director of the school’s Center for International Social Work Studies, nominated The American Place for the honor, saying it has served as a “rich environment for field placements” for students seeking degrees in social work.

“Their one stop shop which is not stigmatizing has been a rich experience for students learning about global issues at a local space,” Thomas, who is chair of the commission, wrote in her nomination letter to the CSWE. “One does not have to travel far to be international social work. “Students develop case management skills as they work with clients, learn about regions of the world where immigrants and refugees come from, learn to connect services to these individuals and also learn policies and advocacy.”

The American Place was established in 2000 and is run by Homa Naficy. It offers immigration information and resources for learning English and preparing for U.S. citizenship. In 2019 Naficy was selected as the winner of the American Library Association’s I Love My Librarian Award.

“Her efforts in Hartford are legendary; she has touched the lives of thousands of people and barely takes a breath before embarking on the next project or program that will undoubtedly help thousands more,” HPL President and CEO Bridget Quinn said.

During the COVID-19 pandemic many services were shifted online and The American Place provided homebound seniors with tablets and Wi-Fi hot spots to avoid isolation through its Surfing Seniors program.

The award from the Virginia-based council will be presented at the CSWE’s annual meeting in Orlando, Florida, in November.

DoubleDutch

An enhancement of the Boundless partnership between Hartford Public Library and Hartford Public Schools boosted participation in summer learning this year in the city by nearly 300%, with more than 1,000 children and teens registering for the program with the library.

The success is an expansion of the existing Boundless partnership that has deepened connections between the city’s schools and with the goal of improving literacy rates for Hartford students and enhanced learning and academic outcomes, explained Denise Martens, Hartford Public Library’s Assistant Director of Youth & Family Services:

“We are thrilled to see this huge increase in the use of HPL resources by the city’s children, teens, and families!” she said. “This is evidence that the Boundless partnership works to support learning in the city during the summer when we know about the impact of ‘the summer slide’ that is now being magnified by the pandemic.”

This year, Hartford Public Schools and the Hartford Public Library collaborated on creating summer reading lists segmented by grade level, with many titles available in both hard copy and digital formats and made easily accessible to students.

Will Bailey, Hartford Public Library Technical Services Director, said the library worked with its vendors during the 2020-2021 school year to grant access to its ebook collections through the school system’s online learning platform, Clever. The BookFlix database of ebooks was extremely popular and resulted in an increase of 50,000 uses throughout the school year.

For summer learning, the library was able to offer a wide variety of reading materials for all grade levels through its Overdrive and Axis 360 platforms, he said.

The theme of this year’s summer learning program was “What Colors Your World?” and a combination of outdoor and online activities were offered, including jewelry making, double Dutch, musical performances and virtual story times.

Students were encouraged to read at least 20 minutes a day and complete bingo cards that included squares like “Read with a friend or relative” or “Read a book with poems” as well as nonreading activities like “Learn a new skill” or “Help a family member” in order to win weekly prizes like books for their own personal collections.

This year’s program began June 21 and concluded August 21. Hartford students returned to school on Monday.

Last year’s virtual program drew about 350 participants, the same as 2019’s in-person program.

Image of Jasmin Aug 2021

Jasmin Agosto: Hartford History Center Education and Outreach Manager by day and Sageseeker Productions founder by night.

Artist always.

Congratulations on being named a 2021 Connecticut Arts Hero!

Thank you!

I think this means you get a superpower. What’s yours?

Well, if I was given this superpower as a kid it would have been to be able to fly or, by holding a book, gain all the knowledge inside it. But now? Now it would be to just by touching folks they gain all the resources and skills they need to build a good life. That’s my superpower.

It’s obvious how much you care about your community. We see it every day at the library.

My love for our community goes back to my childhood and my love for Hartford’s history was strengthened during my time at Trinity College. While I was there, I took a film class and in it we studied the films saved by Hartford activist Butch Lewis about Hartford in the year 1969. The films captured the politics, the diversity, the protests and the culture of that time. It was in that class I discovered the history they did not teach us in school, one where Black and Puerto Rican folks were at the center of it all. Years later when I began working at the history center at the library, one of my first assignments was to work on the Butch Lewis collection. I felt like I came full circle. Like I was right where I was supposed to be.

You started Sageseeker Productions to build community creative space for the Black and POC artists. What does art mean to you in your world?

Art for me is a space to break free from the systems, like capitalism, that we live within. Art allows us to think creatively, to ask questions, to push boundaries, and to express joy. It is powerful to share all of that with our community.

Is there any art recently you experience that has moved you in all those ways?

I’ve been reading a great novel Daughters of Stone by Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa. It was given to me by my mom and it follows several generations of Puerto Rican women descending from Africa. I was particularly moved by the character Mati – a healer who uses her superpowers to free herself and her fellow community while gaining the land they were enslaved on and transforming it into a free collective commune. 

Reminds me of you. Speaking of superpowers. I believe there is a cape involved with this award?

Purple. Definitely purple.

 

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We Congratulate HPL Math Wiz Tiffany Cooper for Receiving Her Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from Albertus Magnus College!

You are a Weaver Beaver, can you say that five times fast?
I played basketball my freshman year! I graduated in 1986, and I’ve gone to all my class reunions. Go Beavers!

Did young Tiffany always want to be an accountant?
When I was little, all I had for toys were calculators and cash registers. I’ve always loved numbers. I love math, I love analytics. I’ll analyze anything. I was quiet in school, I grew up fast and was more mature than others.

Your path to getting this degree was not a straight one.
It took me 12 years to earn this degree. I started by attending Southern Connecticut State University but left after one year. While working, at Cigna, I decided to go back to school and earn a college degree. While raising my two kids I would take a couple of credits whenever I could.

That was some accomplishment- you are strong to persevere for so long.
I grew up surrounded by strong women that were examples for me. My mother was 16 when she had me and my grandmother raised me and took care of me. I had such a strong support system supporting me. I felt their love and encouragement with me always. My mom went back to school as an adult worked hard and not only graduated college but went on to earn two masters – one in education and one in counseling.

Your children are now grown up.
My son Justin works with numbers and my daughter Taylor is an artist. I have one left brain and one right brain- both supportive!

After 12 years- what does this degree mean to you?
My degree doesn’t define me. Society puts you in a place where you need to prove yourself, and a degree is that proof.
I am a life-long-learner. I realize I know little about Black history. I didn’t learn about Emmett Till until I was in college. Now that I’ve come into a place where I understand myself, who I am, I’d like to know more about the struggle of my people. I volunteer at my church, Phillips Metropolitan C.M.E. Church, and help at the local shelters. Together with my children and our families I deliver supplies to local shelters regularly and it’s now a tradition in our family. We pool our money and do Blessing Bags.

Thank you Tiffany, for your critical behind the scenes work at the Library and for being one heck of an example of what hard work and tenacity can bring you. Well done!

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