1250 Albany Avenue
Hartford, CT 06112
Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays 12:30 - 5:30 pm
Thursdays 12:30 - 7:30 pm
Fridays 12:30 - 5:00 pm
Saturdays 12:30 - 5:00 pm
The Albany Branch was established in 1926. It was first located in the Northwest School and then in rented quarters at 1239 Albany Avenue.
The branch’s present location at 1250 Albany Avenue opened in February 1950 in a building designed by H. Sage Goodwin. In 2011 a new 8,000 square foot facility on the corner of Albany and Blue Hills Avenues replaced the sixty-one year old structure .
The branch is part of a “campus” that connects with the Artists Collective, and the John E. Rogers African American Cultural Center. Part of that “campus” idea is a renewed vision of how to strategically use Keney Park and how to find new uses for the Martin Luther King Elementary School and the Lewis Fox Middle-High School buildings.
In 2009, the University of Hartford completed renovations of the former Thomas Cadillac Building located at the intersection of Albany Avenue and Westbourne Parkway. The attractive facility, named the Mort and Irma Handel Performing Arts Center, offers classes taught by the faculty of the Hartt School of Music. The University, perhaps inspired by Trinity College’s successes in Hartford’s south end, has joined together with area community based organizations to leverage resources to revitalize the Upper Albany Neighborhood. Prospective plans include the desire to capitalize on the neighborhood’s cultural resources (anchored by the Artists’ Collective, Wilson-Gray YMCA Youth & Family Center, and the Albany Avenue Branch Library) to create a “village” motif, with culturally inspired street banners and more interesting and intricate lighting and pedestrian walkways.
New transportation plans for parking and traffic flow and streetscape improvements have also been initiated to support the revitalization process. Buildings are receiving funds for facade improvements, and housing initiatives aimed at increasing the neighborhood’s home ownership rates are contributing to positive trends in the neighborhood.
Demographically, the neighborhood is experiencing an increase in native Spanish-Language speakers and other residents for whom English is a second or third language. As homeownership and housing prices increase in the south end, families are moving to Upper Albany where rents appear to be comparatively lower. Upper Albany’s proximity to West Hartford is also a drawing point for still other residents seeking access to suburban schools and other offerings, but looking for less expensive housing options. In addition to Spanish-speaking residents, there has been a marked community of Chinese and Korean residents new to the neighborhood and seeking relevant information resources.
Crime and safety issues continue to be a main source of concern for community residents. High school-dropout and unemployment rates contribute to the social cycle that keeps the neighborhood from realizing its full potential as both a cultural district, a vibrant business community, and a source of rich housing stock.
The Albany Branch Library is strategically located on the Albany Avenue/Highway 44 corridor, in the midst of a thriving community of schools, small and family-owned businesses, and community-based organizations. Steps away from a public transportation route that travels both through and across the city and into surrounding suburbs, the Albany Avenue Branch Library supports the information needs of residents of Hartford and the Greater Hartford area.
Library staff has worked to create and maintain strong connections with the schools that are located within the neighborhood as well as with neighborhood students who attend public and private schools located outside of the Upper Albany neighborhood. Students from the neighborhood’s five elementary schools: Martin L. King, Jr., Annie Fisher, Thurman Milner, Jumoke Academy Charter School, and Hartford Area Seventh-day Adventist School use the branch for after-school homework assistance and extra-curricular programs. Lewis Fox Middle School is currently closed. The Albany Branch Library has ten public computers that draw students from Weaver High School, as well as adult learners living in the neighborhood who attend Capitol Community College, Manchester Community College, University of Hartford, and St. Joseph’s College for Women. Individual customers use the computers for job searches and applications, email, personal and business information needs.
The Albany Branch works in partnership with various area civic and cultural institutions from the neighboring Artists’ Collective and the Upper Albany Main Street. Indeed, the library functions as a primary and critical meeting space for many neighborhood-based agencies and associations. The Upper Albany NRZ and the Upper Albany Neighborhood Collaborative use the community space for their regular meetings.
The Albany Branch Library endeavors daily to maintain its role as one of Albany Avenue’s most vital resources. The Library is open 31 hours a week, including Thursday evenings until 7:30 P.M. and Saturdays. For youth, the branch offers a children’s area, a student area with a young adult readers’ section, and targeted programming for teens. The branch participates in the free Summer Lunch Program, which served over 8,000 lunches throughout the Hartford Public Library system in 2009. The branch has aggressively sought to increase its numbers of adult users through increasing civic involvements, collaborations and outreach services. Adults visit the branch to use the public computers, enroll in computer classes, and to borrow popular fiction. The library participates in voter registration and actively encourages adult library card applicants to register.