HARTFORD — — For more than a decade, officials at Hartford Public Library have envisioned building a new branch on Albany Avenue that could meet the growing demand by city residents.
The existing branch at 1250 Albany Ave. is filled to capacity by 3 or 4 p.m. on most days.
"Everything's utilized. The tables are filled up," said Matt Poland, chief executive officer of the library.
That should change soon as the city moves forward with plans for a new, 8,000-square-foot branch at the corner of Albany and Blue Hills avenues — more than double the size of the current building next door.
Workers will begin breaking ground today to lay the foundation. Once the new building is complete and the contents are transferred, the old one will be demolished, organizers said.
The $5.8 million project — which includes the demolition — will be paid for with city bond money.
"I think that it's money well spent," Mayor Pedro Segarra said. "It's something we absolutely need."
The new branch, scheduled to open in August 2011, will be divided into three parts: a program room for audio and visual materials and computer access; a central space that includes a technology area, a children's story area and some books; and a collection space with aisles of books, DVDs and videotapes. The new building will feature twice as many computers.
Most visitors are younger than 17, Poland said, and the new branch will have enough space for children and their parents.
"The old library has outlived its usefulness now," he said.
More than 200 jobs will be involved in the creation of the new branch, Segarra said.
The city has hired Sevigny Architects and the Hartford-based Capital Restoration to complete the project. All employees at the existing Albany Avenue branch will be transferred to the new one once it opens, Poland said.
The Albany Avenue branch — one of 10 public library branches in the city — was established in 1926. It originally was in Northwest School and later moved to rented quarters at 1239 Albany Ave. The branch's present location opened in 1950.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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