Campaign for the Blackstone


Thank you to all of the donors who have contributed to the Campaign for the Blackstone.


Why Expand and Renovate?

The James Blackstone Memorial Library was built in a time when the needs of the Branford community, and the function of a community library, were very different from today.  Dramatic changes in technology coupled with the more diverse educational and social roles met by the library are limited by a facility which, while striking, was designed for a very different purpose.

The Campaign for the Blackstone is an effort to ensure that the Branford community can continue to count on the library as a literary, educational, technological and social focal point of the town for decades to come. The Campaign is the fundraising effort designated to pay a portion of the capital cost of renovation and redesign, in addition to funds from the Town of Branford and the State Library.

The Blackstone has not undergone significant renovation since 1996. In the time since those changes, the role filled by community libraries across the country has changed dramatically, mainly due to rapid innovation driving technological developments.

While the need to offer patrons access to a wider array of technology is clear, these changes have also created a greater need for libraries to serve as community meeting spaces and resource centers. The focus will be on adapting  and improving a 19th century building to accommodate 21st Century technology and community needs.  

Two primary groups that will be addressed by these renovations will be Branford’s teens and seniors. Both groups are increasingly in need of a place to access technology, programming and meeting spaces.

Physical changes to make the facility more accessible to seniors and more accommodating to the needs of teens will be cornerstones of the building improvements. In addition, families with younger children will find the new children’s area to be safer and more age appropriate.

Key Changes: Expansion
A single area has been identified as ideal for a 2,000 square foot expansion which will be well-integrated into the existing building design, providing beauty as well as improved functionality.

Designed to be light and open, the new entrance be a welcoming and accessible space.

An expanded lobby and circulation desk inside will augment the existing spaces and allow for interior redesign to meet the current and future needs of the Blackstone’s visitors.

Outside, a new terrace will provide space for events and activities, outdoor reading and just relaxing, surrounded by a nicely landscaped plaza.

The minimal impact design will stand out as a grand entrance, yet fits into the surroundings and actually adds to the architectural interest of the building.


Take an aerial tour of the new entrance design.
Key Changes: Renovation
The expansion will only be one part of the overall Blackstone improvement project.

The design includes a reconfiguration based on library best practices and emerging service trends.

The library is the one place in the community that is free and accessible to all, every day of the week, including evenings. Existing space will be reconfigured to better address the community’s current needs, including:

  • An expanded current computer area
  • A more open and better located children’s area
  • A dedicated teen area which will include the MakerSpace and other technology
  • Multiple, small meeting spaces to accommodate and encourage more group activities
  • Technology resources that will compliment the efforts of the Branford school system by incorporating the same technology the public schools will use as they begin to renovate and update their own facilities
This renovation will provide meaningful solutions to very real challenges of the existing building layout.


Campaign Goals

Overall Project Cost:  $5.2 million

State Library Commitment:  $1 million
committed contingent on meeting matching requirements by March 2018

Capital Campaign Goal:  $800,000
a very reasonable amount based on the overall project cost

Balance to be requested from the Town of Branford, with the possibility of additional state bond funds reducing the ask to the Town.