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1750 Main Street
Hartford, CT 06120
(860) 695-7520

Mon - Thu 12:30 to 5:30 pm
Wed 12:30 to 7:30 pm
Fri 12:30 to 5:00 pm

History

The former Keney Branch was opened in 1929 on High Street and moved in 1932 to North Main Street. In 1943, the Branch moved further up North Main Street where it remained until 1946, when it was relocated in the Arsenal School. In 1951, a new branch, named after Edgar L. Ropkins, opened at the corner of Avon and Main Streets. It was destroyed by fire in 1969, and opened at a new location at 1710 Main Street in April 1979.

In May 1995, the Ropkins Branch and the SAND Everywhere School library merged. In April 1996, the physical location of the school library was turned into three classrooms. A new 5,600 square foot state-of-the-art facility opened in December 1998 as part of a $17.5 million dollar school/library complex at 1750 Main Street. The new SAND/Ropkins Branch Library space serves the SAND Elementary School community of four hundred students and twenty-four teachers, Quirk Middle school (700 students), and the vibrant community surrounding the SAND Elementary School complex.

Community Relationships/Services

SAND Elementary School and the Ropkins Branch form a complex that is the hub of the Clay Arsenal neighborhood. Staff members from the SAND/Ropkins Branch are integrally involved in every aspect of this strategically located and culturally rich community; which serves as the gateway to and from downtown and northern communities, and towns such as Bloomfield and Windsor. Involvement in the neighborhood includes: School Management And Reform Team (SAND), Clay Arsenal Revitalization Association (CARA) Steering Committee, Clay Hill Improvement Association, Hartford Cleans-Up in Clay Arsenal, SAND Family Resource Center Advisory Committee, SAND Elementary School First Day Committee, SAND Elementary School Homework Club, SAND Corporation teens, and H.O.M.E. (Help Our Mothers with Education). Over a hundred volunteers from “Everyone Wins,” a program sponsored by the Travelers Insurance Co. of professionals who provide power lunch reading, assist elementary school students with one-on-one at the branch during the school year.

Noted Trends

Clay Arsenal is home to 7,890 persons, with Puerto Ricans representing well over fifty percent of the 7,890 residents.  Residents of the neighborhood have witnessed the growth of a new community since the $17 million renovation and transformation of Bellevue Square Public Housing into Mary Shepard Place in June 1998. This was followed by the opening of the new $17.5 SAND Elementary School/Ropkins Branch Library in September 1998. Service providers such as the school, the Library, the institutional day cares, the SAND Family Resource Center, and the summer youth programs have all reported significant increases in attendance and participation of residents in programs, training opportunities, Library usage, and school sponsored events.

Branch Initiatives
The SAND/Ropkins Branch continues to implement the mission of the Hartford Public Library by responding to the ongoing needs of residents in the SAND, Clay Hill, and Clay Arsenal neighborhoods.  The branch is open 26 ½ hours a week, including Wednesday evenings until 7:30 P.M.  Staff’s willingness to partner and collaborate with the organizations mentioned above has enabled the Library to better position itself in the lives of the families, the students, and adult learners in the neighborhood. These partnerships have been greatly enhanced by the active involvement of the Assistant Children’s Librarian, who serves approximately five day care classes per week in addition to coordinating after school programs. Approximately twenty-five day care classes at nearby day care centers have regularly scheduled visits to the Library.  Literacy programs are offered to families and children to encourage the early development of an interest in reading and learning.  Our goal is to help prepare youth for school success. Story hour programs, providing workshops in partnership with SAND Elementary School, and the Family Resource Center are key to delivering our services.

The SAND/Ropkins Branch also encourages upper elementary, middle, and high school students to visit the library daily to participate in our Homework Club. Library staff assists students in finding and understanding homework related information.

The branch collaborates with summer youth service providers in providing programs for campers in the neighborhood. Summer youth service providers include: San Juan Center, SAND Corp. teen program, and SAND Elementary School.  The branch participates in the free Summer Lunch Program, which served over 8,000 lunches throughout the Hartford Public Library system in 2009.

Library staff are also motivated to link adults to the resources available at the SAND/Ropkins Branch.  The Community Librarian has recently completed the weeding and inventorying of the collection.  An increase in popular movies, popular fiction authors, and high interest non-fiction titles has assisted in establishing a steady base of repeat customers.  The branch maintains a high volume of computer users per month who take advantage of the public Internet access and Microsoft Office software.  The branch serves as a polling place, and actively encourages adult library card applicants to register to vote.