55 Forest Street
Hartford, CT 06105
Mon 12:30 - 7:30 pm
Tue - Thu 12:30 to 5:30 pm
Fri 12:30 to 5:00 pm
Sat 9:00 am - 1:00 pm
The Mark Twain Memorial Commission opened the home of Mark Twain in 1929, and in May 1930, the Hartford Public Library opened a branch library on the first floor of the famous house.
Subsequent restoration of the house made it necessary to move the Branch to 256 Farmington Avenue. The branch was relocated to Hartford Public High School on Forest Street in 2011.
Mark Twain Branch staff members have achieved a strong community relationship with the Asylum Hill and West End neighborhoods by listening, learning and linking to the needs of the people. Active attendance at meetings such as the Asylum Hill Neighborhood Association (AHNA) and the West End Civic Association (WECA), as well as Public Safety, Economic Development, and Education/Cultural subcommittees, has contributed to the branch making a difference in the community. In addition, the Asylum Hill PSNRA has the improvement of the branch as one of its main objectives. The Mark Twain Branch also serves the small businesses, senior centers, shelters, community-based-organizations, and residents who live and work in Asylum Hill and the West End.
The Mark Twain Branch has an excellent relationship with the school community. The school age population attends West Middle School, Noah Webster elementary school, Hartford Public High School, and Quirk Middle School. Other educational institutions include daycare centers, nursery schools, museums, and cultural organizations, such as the Harriet Beecher Stowe House, Hartford Conservatory, Dance Connecticut, Connecticut Opera, and the Mark Twain House. These organizations, along with the Mark Twain Branch, have as one of their common goals to provide educational, cultural, and recreational programming, classes, and collections to enhance Asylum Hill and the West End youth.
The Mark Twain Branch serves two very diverse neighborhoods. Asylum Hill is more densely populated and is more transient. West Middle School in Asylum Hill notes mobility, socio-economic status, and the language needs of its students as major factors influencing curricula changes. Refugees from Burma and Bhutan, sponsored by Catholic Charities, are the latest populations of new arrivals who frequent the Mark Twain Branch in great numbers. An increase in the number of Spanish-speaking adults visiting the library has also been noticed. The school age population has increased. One or more vehicles available to householders per occupied housing unit have dropped slightly. Crime is up in the area near the branch.
The Mark Twain Branch is open 31 hours a week, including Monday evenings until 7:30 P.M and Saturdays. An important initiative at the Mark Twain Branch is supplementing the schools’ curricula by providing homework assistance through guidance to our electronic and print resources, and by offering computer classes geared to school requirements, such as report writing using Microsoft Word, presentations in PowerPoint, and content research for homework and report assignments using databases, such as those in the Connecticut Digital Library (iCONN). Youth initiatives are numerous and include: cooperative parenting programs, story times, educational, cultural, and recreational programming, school visits, participation in Parent Teacher Organizations, joint programming with school-based family literacy centers, and partnering with community-based organizations. Providing youth whose first language is not English with resources and reading guidance is a major focus of the Assistant Youth Services Librarian at the Mark Twain Branch. The Mark Twain Branch participates in the free Summer Lunch Program, which served over 8,000 lunches throughout the Hartford Public Library system in 2009.
Information literacy is an important skill for which the Mark Twain Branch provides training and instruction. People need to be able to find quality information, learn how to evaluate it, and use it effectively to make smart decisions. Helping to develop savvy information users will lead to a better-informed community, who will in turn make better decisions affecting the quality of life in the neighborhood. All formats, including the Internet, are covered in the workshops. Emphasis is placed on clearing up the many misconceptions people have about the Internet. Two additional components are introduced in conjunction with information literacy: safety on the Internet and copyright in electronic formats. Computer competency classes help adults improve life and work skills, and are offered in Word, PowerPoint, Internet, and Email classes. These classes are made possible through the Gates Foundation grant. Collection development and maintenance continue to be a major focal point for the branch in order to insure a responsive and vibrant collection. English-language learning audiovisual and Spanish-language adult materials are currently being increased in response to trends in community needs. The library participates in voter registration and actively encourages adult library card applicants to register.