Frances Russell established Russell Library in 1875 in memory of her husband, Samuel. The Episcopal Church of the Holy Trinity had built the building on the corner of Broad and Court Streets in 1834, and Mrs. Russell purchased and remodeled it in the Roman Gothic Style. The building opened as the public library for the City of Middletown on April 5, 1876. In 1930, the City helped to add the Hubbard wing, and in 1972 completed the remodeled Children’s Library, originally the First Federal Saving and Loan Association of Meriden, built in 1965.
In 1983, an architectural firm expanded the Library greatly, meeting the challenge of combining two disparate buildings. Two of the original stained glass windrows were reinstalled in the new main peak and in the Children’s area. Improved access for people with disabilities was achieved by the use of an elevator and ramps to the many levels. The combined buildings surround a beautiful inner courtyard, the site of concerts and other events. Lovely outside gardens have been subsequently installed.
Russell Library is very busy and serves as a regional library. It is a member of the Libraries Online (LION) automation network. In 1997, responding to space needs, the library purchased an adjacent building for Technical Services, Administrative Services, other staff offices, and Literacy Volunteers of Central Connecticut. In 1999, a second adjacent building was purchased for possible future expansion.
In 2004, we installed a handicapped accessible ramp to the outside book and video returns. In 2008, we completed renovating Children’s Services for handicapped accessibility and safety, and made the collection and program areas more flexible through internal expansion and furnishings. We also renovated the lobby restrooms for handicapped accessibility and safety, replaced chairs in the Activity Room and Computer Center, and relocated offices to improve use of space. In 2009, we re-roofed the Annex, repaired the elevator, reorganized Information Services, reupholstered Hubbard Room chairs, and received the Connecticut Excellence in Public Library Service Award.
In 2009-2010, we alleviated a flooding problem in the Audio-Visual and Young Adult Services office., completed a library-wide telephone upgrade, completed exterior entrance painting and stonework repair in the courtyard through Federal Stimulus funds, relocated staff offices for better use of space, installed a public computer reservation system with a self-service printer, and shifted furnishings to gain small group and individual work spaces. With more people bringing in their own laptops and other devices to make use of wireless access, the new areas are often full.
Following our Mission, Strategic Plan, and Annual Goals, we seek to meet the needs of all the public: