Stetson Branch librarians and board members are seeking to raise $2 million by the end of next year for their planned new home across the street at the new Q House.
That announcement came Tuesday afternoon, as library staff, board members, and bibliophiles gathered at the branch of the New Haven Free Public Library (NHFPL) on Dixwell Avenue. After successfully raising $1.5 million this year, the library is going after an additional $2 million to ensure the project’s success in a state mired in financial limitations and stretched municipal resources.
It has a head start: a $250,000 commitment from Yale University and $750,000 from an anonymous donor.
Those funds, said City Librarian Martha Brogan, will go toward a new design that will become “the cornerstone of the reimagined Q House.” The library will occupy the first and second floors of the building’s southwest corner, at the intersection of Dixwell Avenue and Foote Street. Currently in a strip on Dixwell, the library is quickly outgrowing its 7,560 square feet. In the new Q, the library will house computer labs, reading rooms, student coworking spaces, and a “community conversations room,” about which Brogan is already buzzing with excitement.
“It encourages people to exchange ideas with one another,” said Brogan. She recalled a library visitor who had told her that she thought of her NHFPL card as “like my American Express card,” in that she didn’t leave home without it. Those are the folks that the new Stetson will be serving, Brogan said, adding that “my inspiration is the community” when she thinks of the fundraising project, and of her own work.
Funding for the reimagined Q House, for which the library is a central cornerstone, has come from a variety of sources. A $5.3 state bond for construction and architecture and a $1 million state library bond have served as the bulk of funding. $900,000 has come from city capital funding. That’s in addition to the $1.5 million the library has already raised, along with the promised $1 million from Yale and an anonymous donor.
The remaining $1 million is up to the community.
“Here we are with an opportunity to make Stetson bigger, better and brighter than it is right now,” said board member and NHFPL Foundation President Elsie Chapman, who oversaw fundraising and building efforts for the library’s Wilson branch 10 years ago. “We want all of you to be part of this challenge. We want to get the community involved.”
Chapman added that a $250,000 matching challenge from the Seedlings Foundation will help the library cover that final $1 million. “I think we can do that, and more,” she said.
Despite delays due to Q House Architect Regina Winter‘s death last year, Brogan said the new Q House is expected to secure a contract this November or December, and reopen late the following year or in early 2019. That’s reason to celebrate, said NHFPL Board President Michael Morand and project co-chairs Yale President Peter Salovey and Mayor Toni Harp. Salovey heralded the library as, in his words, “the heart of the city, and the heart of this neighborhood.”
“This is going to be the envy of New Haven’s library system — and I would say, the state’s library system,” Harp said.