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Jump to: FAQs / Strategic Branch Restructuring Plan

Community Meetings
Talk With Library Leaders

Hartford Public Library will be holding community meetings at our three branch locations that will be closing in September, and at Ropkins, which will offer after-school programs.
These meetings will enable you, our customers, to meet with members of the library’s senior leadership team, including Greg Davis (Board President), Bridget Quinn-Carey (CEO), and Andrea Comer (Chairperson of the Strategic Planning Committee).
We will discuss new services schedules and answer any questions you may have.

 

Ropkins, 1750 Main St., Monday, July 31, 6:00 pm
Blue Hills, 649 Blue Hills Ave., Tuesday, Aug.1, 6:00 pm
Goodwin, 460 New Britain Ave.,Wednesday, Aug. 2, 6:00 pm
Mark Twain, 927 Asylum Ave.,Thursday, Aug. 3, 6:00 pm
 

A Letter from the CEO about HPL Branch Restructuring

Good Afternoon: 

I wanted to share an update with you about some significant changes planned at HPL which you may have seen announced in the local media.

 The Hartford Public Library has been engaged in a robust strategic planning process for the past nine months. This process, led by a Strategic Planning Committee of the Board of Directors, has included our staff at all levels, our users, public and private stakeholders (elected officials, donors, partners, institutional leaders) and community groups throughout the process. We completed a detailed eco-system/asset map and interviews with key institutions and service providers throughout the City; we prepared a thorough assessment of community needs and demographic data. We compiled years’ worth of financial and usage data and determined key service quality factors as aspirational measures.  We developed comprehensive service logic models to ensure we understand impact and required resources. Detailed comparisons measured HPL against national and statewide peers serving similarly sized and resourced library systems regarding the number of staff, locations, programs, budgets and need. Feedback from this process and from assessments indicated that we needed more hours, more programs and more services in our branch locations – particularly those that serve high need and under-resourced neighborhoods. But level (at best) funding and rising costs have taken a toll on service hours and service quality. This plan needs to address those challenges. Over the past two months, the Board President, the Chair of our Strategic Planning Committee and I have held 16 presentations with constituent groups detailing alternative service scenarios, three of which included some degree of consolidation.

In order to prepare the final report, a key decision was needed from the Board – how many locations can we sustain? We currently operate 10 locations, three of which are small storefront locations. The Board met and voted on a direction to pursue with the plan. On Monday July 3, 2017 the Board announced a strategic branch restructuring plan which will create an enhanced and more sustainable service model that will enable HPL to deliver more hours and better service system wide.

The restructuring will keep the Downtown Library, and Albany, Park, Dwight, Barbour, Camp Field, and Ropkins branches open; Ropkins will operate during after school hours only. The Goodwin and Blue Hills branches will be closing and their staff will be redeployed across the system. The Mark Twain Library will be transitioned to a mobile branch through additional services provided by our Library on Wheels. There will be no staff layoffs. This plan will enable us to provide service enhancements including more open hours and days of services, and additional programming in the branches. We will also be prioritizing capital projects including building a new, larger location in the North End of the City to replace the Barbour Branch and expansions at the Camp Field and Albany Avenue branches. A new facility to replace the current Park Branch library has been fully funded, and we are currently in design development for this beautiful new library.

As you can imagine, going in this direction was a difficult decision, and one the Board, Committee and staff took very seriously; focusing on more open hours, better services and sustainability has been the key to our decision making process. Open and regular communications with our community created a transparent and data driven method that welcomed community feedback. As we begin operational planning for implementation of the new service model, we will be holding public forums at each of the affected branch locations to provide as much support and information to residents and users directly affected by these changes.  

This restructuring is not the result of any specific financial crisis – we have a balanced budget in place for 2018. However, we know that our structural deficit grows each year, and the only way to ensure that we can deliver great services is to consolidate our resources.  In the coming weeks we will be determining new service schedules (days and hours) and scheduling public forums at the four affected branches. This information will be posted on our website and via Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you for being a part of the Hartford Public Library, and for everything you do for us.

Sincerely,

Bridget Quinn-Carey
Chief Executive Officer
Hartford Public Library

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FAQs

Q: When will the changes go into effect?
A: We anticipate new schedules will go into effect as of September 1st.

Q: What will happen to the closed branches?
A: Leased space will not be renewed; other properties are City-owned and we’ll be working with the City to transition them back to City management.

Q: Will any staff be laid off?
A: No.

Q: Why my branch?
A: The following criteria were considered and discussed in the process of determining what branches would be affected:

  • Proximity to other library branches and equitably dispersed, geographically, throughout the City
  • Need – community demographics, size of community served, transportation options
  • Proximity to alternative community and educational services
  • Usage (visits, circulation, program attendance)
  • Size of facility
  • Facility amenities (meeting room, technology areas)
  • Need for renovation/capital investment

Q: What were key factors in the decision making process?
A: We modeled three different consolidation scenarios: 10 branches (current number) vs. eight vs. six vs. three to determine which scenario would enable us to provide the optimal levels of:

  • enhanced hours and services,
  • accessibility, and
  • sustainability for the foreseeable future.

Q: Was this communicated to the public?
A: Yes; we met with and gave presentations about the preliminary strategic plan and consolidation scenarios to a number of audiences (listed below) in this process to solicit feedback and answer any questions.

  • The Mayor’s office and City Council
  • Community organization leaders
  • Hartford 2000
  • Board of Education leadership
  • Metro Hartford Alliance
  • HPL Corporators
  • Community Public Forums held at
    • Albany Branch
    • Dwight Branch

Q: How does HPL compare with other urban libraries in CT and in the United States?
A: Compared to the median of 117 libraries in mid-sized cities nationwide, HPL stands out for:

  • Having more locations
  • Smaller size of locations
  • Spreading resources more thinly across locations
  • More visitors
  • More programs
  • More computer use
  Hartford Public Library (2014) 2014 Median Mid-Sized City
Service Population 125,017 179,703
Outlets 10 5
Outlets per 100K residents      8.0 2.8
Square feet per branch 3,883 10,046
Visits per capita 6.7 4.2
Computer use per capita 1.2 0.96
Circulation per capita 4.3 5.9
Total programs 7,070 1,973

 

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Strategic Branch Restructuring Plan

Hartford, CT (July 3,2017) — Hartford Public Library Board Chairman Greg Davis announced that Hartford Public Library will implementing a Strategic Branch Restructuring Plan to create an enhanced and more sustainable service model that will enable the Library to deliver more hours and better service system wide.  This restructuring is the outcome of a robust nine-month strategic planning initiative, which included our staff at all levels, our customers, public and private stakeholders (elected officials, donors, partners, institutional leaders) and community groups throughout the process. With funding provided by the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, TDC, a Boston non-profit consulting firm, facilitated the research and planning process with HPL’s Strategic Planning Committee to create this sustainable, enhanced service model. Library leaders made 16 presentations about the findings to the staff and public and constituents in politics, business, nonprofit and other key parties.

The HPL board unanimously supported the plan in a vote on June 29, 2017.

“Our Library serves, and must continue to serve, our diverse and changing neighborhoods and communities with services, programs, and collections so that all residents can learn, succeed, and thrive,” says Mr. Davis. “This plan will enable us to achieve those goals.”

Faced with Hartford’s fiscal challenges, the Library has been experiencing a downward trend in the City’s coverage of its operating expenses.  Even with level funding, HPL is dealing with a growing deficit.  And significant revenue growth will be challenging moving forward.

As a result of this plan, the Downtown Library, and the Albany, Dwight, Park, Camp Field, and Barbour branches will remain open. The plan will enable HPL to increase hours and days of service at these branches. The Library will be the closing the Blue Hills and Goodwin branches, and ceasing operations at West Middle School – transitioning Mark Twain to a mobile branch with enhanced service to the Asylum Hill and West End communities through the Library on Wheels. The Ropkins Branch will remain open for after school programming and services. Hartford Public Library will also be pursuing a capital project plan to build a new library to replace the Barbour storefront, as well as expand the Camp Field and Albany Avenue branches.

“Each community’s needs were looked at in the context of its ecosystem of current services provided,” says Andrea Comer, HPL board member and Chair of the Strategic Planning Committee. “Regarding those branches that will be closing, their staff will be redeployed across the system. There will be no layoffs with this plan.”

“This plan, which starts in September, will provide service enhancement opportunities that will mean more hours, including Saturdays and evenings, at several locations, and additional programming in the branches,” says Bridget Quinn-Carey, HPL’s CEO. “We will also be exploring 24-hour self-service kiosks, expanding locations, and enhancing mobile services.  This plan will enable us to expand services and ensure long-term sustainability for one of Hartford’s most valued institutions.”

The Library does not yet have the new schedule or hours of service determined, and will be working on that transition plan over the next several weeks. It will be holding informational sessions at the affected branch locations to communicate the changes to our customers and help them find the best location for services going forward.

Hartford Public Library’s budget for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2017, was $10,603,956. The City of Hartford provided 74 percent of that amount with the remainder coming from grants, donations, endowments and fines and fees. The Library has 124 employees, including full time and part time. It became a public library in 1893.

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