Arts Spotlight: Keene Public Library

The Keene Public Library’s collection of books has always been a core cultural resource. In recent years the collection has grown to include various media, as today and tomorrow knowledge and intelligence are not only shared through books. The Library is poised to bring knowledge and art into the future. - Carl Jacobs, Keene City Councilor

City Council member, musician, and former Arts Alive! Board member, and life-time Keene resident, Carl Jacobs, approached us recently to feature the Keene Public Library’s new resources in our Arts Spotlight blog.

Arts Alive! is thrilled to see communities across our region presenting arts programming and offering education and resources for creatives through their libraries. It is an increasing trend across rural communities, and Arts Alive! recognizes the important role that libraries are taking on.

“Libraries are both a repository of knowledge and the base for inspiration to dream and create,” says Executive Director of Arts Alive!, Jessica Gelter. “We are lucky to have such an amazing institution in our region - and so lucky that there has been substantial investment from the greater community as well as the city in expanding this resource.”

“The City of Keene has a strong commitment to the arts. The library expansion is a part of how we are fulfilling that commitment,” says Jacobs. “The Library expansion provides performance spaces that will open new opportunities for theater, music, and cultural performances. In addition to the upgraded Heberton Hall venue, the newly accessible Cohen Hall, with its amazing acoustics, should provide an exciting concert venue. The new makerspace will allow for the exploration of the nexus between creativity and technology.”

The performance and event venues will host library events, and will be available to rent for one-day and longer term bookings.

Gail Zachariah, the Head of Engagement, Outreach, and Youth Services at the Library is excited:

The Keene Public Library has offered arts and culture programming in the past, but now that our renovations are completed, we are excited to be able to do much more. We have changed things up a bit in Heberton Hall. It looks great. We also have a new kitchen, a Makerspace, a classroom, and additional small meeting rooms. The library has already begun to offer free concerts, ukulele classes, and children's art programs. Community groups are beginning to book and offer programs as well. Our own programming is increasing substantially also.  

About the new performance and event spaces: 

Heberton Hall is a large first floor room with a stage and hardwood floor that is suitable for dances, plays or concerts.  The capacity of the room is 240 with chairs. There are some rectangular 6’ tables available upon request. The room has a movie projector, automated large screen and sound system.  There are many big windows with darkening shades.

The 2nd Floor Cohen Hall does not have a stage or natural light, and is most suitable for film, concerts, performances and seating in the round.  The acoustics are particularly excellent. There is a baby grand piano in the room along with a movie projector, automated large screen and sound system.  The room is carpeted and has two risers the length of the room as well as a small, low semicircular riser at the front of the room. There are currently 40 upholstered chairs, additional seating is available as folding chairs.  The room capacity is 240.

 A limited amount of performance storage space is permitted in the lower level.  This shared space is available for up to 2 weeks prior to a scheduled performance and up to one week after.  There is also a changing room or “green” room in the lower level available for use by performers during productions.

Colleen Swider, Outreach Librarian, invites you to their first big event in the new space:

Our first big use of the new space will be with our annual Chautauqua Event on August 2nd This year, our Chautauqua continues the looks at scientific discovery through the voices of Nikola Tesla and Hedy Lamarr. A Chautauqua is a living history program featuring historical re-enactments. Entertainment starts at 6 p.m. Chautauqua performers take the stage at 6:30 p.m. To provide further community involvement, the project includes a film series.  Historically, this event attracts over 200 people.


About booking the space:

For more information and to book the space, contact Colleen Swider, Outreach Librarian, Keene Public Library, 60 Winter St., Keene, NH.  Telephone 603-757-1844 or Email