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.
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 Greater Middletown. In 1999, a second adjacent building was purchased for possible future expansion.
Technology drives many of the building and service changes occurring in Russell Library. In 2001, the Library opened the Information and Computer Center and new Audio-Visual and Teen Services areas. In 2002-2003, we completed renovation of the Activity Room, Story Tell Room, expanded the Circulation Services office (with ergonomic furnishings), and installed handicapped accessible toilets in Children's and Information Services. Major progress was made towards enhancing the marketing aspect of the lobby and increasing its functionality, the Large Print collection was moved to the second floor to maximize space, and the "Reader's Corner" was begun.
In 2003-2004, a handicapped accessible ramp will be installed to the outside book and video return boxes. We have begun a search for funds to make the Children's Room more handicapped accessible through internal expansion and for other changes needed for technology and accessibility.
ASM RL74 Library History 8/00, revised 12/03