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After pipe bursts, 'no estimate' for how long Hartford Public Library's downtown branch to be closed

Hartford Public Library downtown location in Hartford, Connecticut.
Ayannah Brown
Connecticut Public
Hartford Public Library's downtown location in Hartford, Conn.

Hartford Public Library said Wednesday that it’s continuing cleanup efforts at its Downtown Library at 500 Main St. after a pipe burst over the holiday weekend.

A spokesperson for the library said there is “no estimate” for how long the Downtown Library will be closed or how much repairs will cost. But officials said the closure is expected to impact at least parts of the building for several months.

The damage was discovered on Saturday, Dec. 24. Library officials said a pipe burst while no staff were on-site and damaged computers, furniture and public areas on multiple floors across the facility.

Since then, officials have been working to mitigate and tally the scope of the damage. A spokesperson for the library said that insurance representatives visited the building Wednesday to conduct a damage assessment and that the library will likely release additional details next week about repair costs and estimated timeframes for reopening.

Officials said parts of the third-floor Hartford History Center suffered severe damage to technology and fixtures. But the library’s collections were mostly unharmed.

“While this situation is serious, we are thankful the damage is not more extensive,” Hartford Public Library President and CEO Bridget E. Quinn said in a statement. “The Hartford Fire Department was incredible in their response, as well as library staff who assisted.”

Most of the Hartford History Center’s collection is stored on the ground floor in compact shelving and did not suffer any harm, officials said. “Materials in the Hartford History Center reading room were protected in glass cases or in file cabinets that were not breached by water,” a spokesperson for the library said. “Exhibits on display in the library, including on the ArtWalk, were also unharmed and are being taken down and/or moved.”

The library also noted that two Romare Bearden murals were unharmed.

Two Hartford Public Library Kwanzaa programs originally scheduled to be held at the Downtown Library will be moved to the library’s location on Albany Avenue and take place Thursday, Dec. 29, between noon and 5 p.m.

The library is working to move other programming, classes and events to alternate locations for the month of January.

Hartford Public Library’s other branches are open and operating.

Patrick Skahill is a reporter and digital editor at Connecticut Public. Prior to becoming a reporter, he was the founding producer of Connecticut Public Radio's The Colin McEnroe Show, which began in 2009. Patrick's reporting has appeared on NPR's Morning Edition, Here & Now, and All Things Considered. He has also reported for the Marketplace Morning Report. He can be reached at pskahill@ctpublic.org.

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