Hartford library lease agreement should also benefit local community

The University of Connecticut’s construction and downtown expansion of the Hartford branch campus will now include a partnership with the Hartford Public Library, following the approval of a $4 million renovation and lease agreement, according to the Hartford Courant.

The lease will span 15 years, with the first annual payment totaling at $172,000. UConn will utilize a portion of the library’s space for new classrooms, a digital media center, study spaces as well as a library collection. 

This past November, the university Board of Trustees approved a final budget of $140 million for the satellite campus, and in addition this library lease agreement, UConn has approved the $4 million purchase of the former Hartford Times building and is currently in negotiation with the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art for auditorium space. 

As described on the UConn Downtown Hartford website, the vision of the revitalized campus is to “create a neighborhood campus fully intertwined with the nearby Hartford Public Library, Wadsworth Atheneum, Connecticut Science Center and state and city government offices… [and is] part of its broader commitment to the vitality of the region and state of the learning, research, and outreach components of its mission.” 

The library lease agreement is an important step in making this vision of an urban neighborhood campus a reality and should help to develop a positive relationship with the community. It is imperative to ensure that this agreement and similar future ones serve to benefit both UConn students as well as local community members. 

Mary T. Tzambazakis, interim chief executive officer of the Hartford Public Library, referred to the growing relationship and told the Hartford Courant the library that she, “[looks] forward to all the possibilities and positive impacts this relationship will create for the citizens of Hartford.”

The newly renovated classroom and study spaces will be open to the library and community when not in use by UConn, according to the Hartford Courant, and should pave the way for other, future collaborations between the community and the university. 

Public libraries, many of which, such as Hartford, have been subject to increasing budget cuts, remain fundamental resources and spaces in any community, especially in those where some members may not have access to Internet or computers.

Any agreement, such as this one that has the potential to increase educational opportunities for all those in the area should be applauded and served as a model for others the future.