Raymond Library is set to get a makeover

By Lisa Stone - ReminderNews
East Hartford - posted Thu., Nov. 7, 2013
Dignitaries including Gov. Dannel Malloy and Mayor Marcia Leclerc scoop a symbolic ground breaking shovel full of dirt. Photos by Lisa Stone.
Dignitaries including Gov. Dannel Malloy and Mayor Marcia Leclerc scoop a symbolic ground breaking shovel full of dirt. Photos by Lisa Stone.

Mayor Marcia Leclerc’s dream is coming true with the revitalizing of the Raymond Library. The library is temporarily closing to allow completion of a makeover that is scheduled to take 12 to 14 months. The groundbreaking ceremony for the addition and renovations was held on Oct. 31, with several dignitaries in attendance.

Library director Susan Hansen gave a brief history of the library. “Raymond Library was built in 1888,” said Hansen. “East Hartford resident Albert Raymond made a provision in his will in 1880 for the money to build a library for the town of East Hartford. The original building has had two remodels; the most recent was 45 years ago. There is a great need for the upgrades to the structure as well as the technology of the building.”

According to Hansen, the community has outgrown the library. There will be upgraded computers, larger open space, two community rooms on the lower level, a teen space and study rooms. While the library undergoes its transformation, much of the inventory will be kept in storage, but a great deal of items will be moved to Wickham Library.

State Rep. Henry Genga (D-10) began the ceremony with praise for Leclerc and thanks to all the people involved with the project. “I can’t wait to see what the future of the library is. This is truly a blessing for East Hartford,” said Genga.

State Rep. Jason Rojas (D-9) said, “I used this library when I was a student and now I bring my children to this library. I attribute my staying out of trouble while I was growing up to the Raymond Library. Through their programs, I kept busy. A library should be the focal point of the community.”

U.S. Rep. John Larson (D-1) gave thanks to Leclerc for pushing this project forward. “Education can continue here,” said Larson. “Thank you to Governor Malloy for financially backing the program. It is nice to have a place to go to learn about our history and just browse around to find new things to learn. This library will be a living memorial to East Hartford. The community stands much prouder today because of the leadership that is in place.”

The president of the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, Linda Kelly, is proud to be helping fund this project. She feels that this project is adding to Raymond’s legacy. The director of the Division of Library Development of Connecticut State Library, Dawn La Valle, feels that the new library reflects the needs of the community and she will lend her services to help with whatever is needed.

Leclerc has been pursuing the revitalization of the library since 2010. Once she took office, Leclerc called Genga and asked what they needed to do to make her dream a reality. Genga went to work to find money for the project. With all the money that came together from local government and independent supporters, they were still $4 million short for the completion of the project. That is when Gov. Dannel Malloy stepped in to help. With a combination of all the money and the people that worked hard to bring this to fruition, the library will soon be displaying state-of-the-art technology and many new books as well as historical documents.

Malloy said, “I owe much of my success to libraries. I spent countless hours at Ferguson Library in Stamford. I had a learning disability, so I had to have others read to me in order for me to learn. I understand the need for a great library, and I am confident that Raymond Library will be the strength of this community.

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