Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Celebrating John F. Germany Public Library, January 13, 2013

Tampa Public Library, Central Library, circa 1999.
The next Library History Roadshow will be a special occasion as we celebrate John Germany's 90th birthday!
  John F. Germany Public Library
900 North Ashley Drive, Tampa, FL
Sunday, January 13, 2013
12:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Charles J. Fendig speaking at the
TPL's Central Library dedication, April 21, 1968.

Groundbreaking for the construction of Tampa's main library took place on April 25th, 1965,  Three years later, the John F. Germany Public Library, originally named the "Tampa Public Library - Central Library", was dedicated on April 21st, 1968, becoming a hub for Tampa's community at 900 North Ashley Drive. This new main library replaced the Tampa Free Public Library (aka the 'Carnegie Library') which opened in 1917 on 7th Avenue. The library expanded in 1976 after the four-story annex was added.  Then, in 1999, the library was renamed in honor of local attorney, former judge, civic leader and long-time library supporter, John F. Germany. For more on the history of this library, click here.

In addition to gathering and digitizing your Tampa-Hillsborough library memories at this upcoming Library History Roadshow, we are enthusiastic about the debut of an exhibit in the main entrance foyer and a unique photographic exhibit that will relate the story of this library's beginnings and evolution. 

The Central Library opens following
the dedication ceremony, April 21, 1968.
  We are looking forward to celebrating Mr. Germany's 90th birthday!  At 1:00 p.m., Director of Libraries, Joe Stines, will welcome attendees in the Kotler Gallery area, followed by birthday wishes and cake for Mr. Germany.  Roadshow visitors will also have the opportunity to learn more about Tampa's past library directors and their contributions to the development of the library system and also gain insight on the upcoming centennial celebration of our library system in 2014.

Do you have a distinct memory of coming to the library or want to share how the John F. Germany Public Library has impacted your life?  If so, we encourage you to come and to share your memories!

When the Library History Roadshow visits your local library, you have the opportunity to record an audio or video memory as well as digitize your library photos and memorabilia. 

Questions? Don't hesitate to call 813-273-3652. We look forward to seeing you on January 13th!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Town N' Country Regional Library overflowing with spirit

On Saturday, December 1st, 2012, the Library History Roadshow crew was on hand at the Town N' County Regional Library to digitize patrons' memories.  We were thrilled to be able to record so many video memories from long time patrons and Friends of the Library, who recalled when the bookmobile serviced the area through the 1960s, to various incarnations of the West Gate Library in the 1970s and '80s, temporary locations during rennovations up until the evolution of the current Town N' County Regional Public Library.

Thanks to the Friends of the Town N' County Regional Library, there was a hearty spread of sandwiches, muffins and other treats, as well as live holiday music performed by the Treble Clefs. Check out some photos from the event!

Here are some of the video memories collected during this roadshow!

Below, Joyce Sheets talks about when she moved to the area in the 1990s and frequented the old West Gate Library. She volunteers with the local garden club, caring for the atrium garden, a unique feature of the previous library.  She now is a member of the Friends of the Library and volunteers in the bookshop helping to raise money to enhance programming for the library.

Nicole recalls coming to the library since she was very young and has developed an interest for reading mysteries.

Marilyn Hood, spearheaded the initiave to create, along with the Quilters' Workshop of Tampa Bay, a unique, award-winning literary quilt that now hangs in the foyer of the Town N' County Community Complex. She talks briefly about the how the idea came to be and how they celebrated their award with the library.

Doris Youdal moved to the Town N' Country when she was very young. She remembers using the bookmobile service when it would stop at a shopping strip mall on Hillsborough and Town N' Country Blvd. in the early 1960s.


Blessing Beasley, an active Friend of the Library, has been living in Tampa since the early 1970s. She remembers when the old West Gate library was torn down and the construction of the current facility. She volunteers in the bookstore and recently celebrated her 90th birthday in one of the meeting rooms with lots of friends.


The first time that Louise Foltz came to the Town N' Country library was for Ms Beasley's birthday party.  Now she is a regular every Saturday!

We like to thank everyone who participated and shared their stories! The next roadshow will be at the John F. Germany Public library on January 13, 2013 from 12:30 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Next stop: Town 'N Country Regional Library, December 1st!

The Library History Roadshow crew is ready to record your Tampa/Hillsborough County library memories and memoriabilia at the...

Town 'N County Regional Library
December 1st, 2012
10 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Do you recall when the Town N' Country was serviced by the Bookmobile? 
In January, 1969, the first library opened in the Town N' County region in the West Gate shopping center on the 7000 block of West Hillsborough Avenue.  Do you remember this storefront location?

Soon after, it was evident that the location would be temporary as library patronage exploded.  After a successful community letter writting campaign, the West Gate Branch Library became a reality and the new facility was dedicated at 7606 Paula Drive on April 20th 1975 (below).

Over the next twenty years, the location became an important hub within the community. So, in November, 1995, the branch library was renamed as the West Gate Regional Library to reflect its prominence in the area and its necessity for providing extended hours and services.

10 years later, the need to expand the library was necessary again. Therefore, in 2007, the library was temporarily relocated to a space at the Thompson Center during construction of a new facility (below).

December 3rd, 2008 marks the day that the new 30,000 sq. ft. building opened to the public and was named the Town N' County Regional Library. What were your first impressions of the new library facility?

Whether you recently began using the library or you a long-time patron , we want to hear from you if you have a memory to share about your experience with this regional library!

We are seeking your library memories, memorabilia and photos to gather, which will be recorded/digitized for the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library History Collection.

We look forward to seeing you at the Roadshow on December 1st!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Brandon Library History Explored!

On Saturday, September 15th from 10 am to 3 pm, the Library History Roadshow team had the pleasure of collecting library memorabilia and memories at the Brandon Regional Library.  It was a lovely day out and the event was visited by library patrons of all ages who shared their library memories.  Check out the slide show of the event:

Library experiences touch every patron in different ways throughout their lives as interests and needs develop and change.  For these youth, getting their first library card opened up a new avenues and led them to explore new topics and tales.

Their impressions of visiting the library have already made a positive impact...

...with lasting memories that are priceless! Listen to this girl talk about her experience:

Dwayne tells us what it was like taking the his daughters to get their first library card and how coming to the Brandon library has become a regular family event.

Yvonne also enjoys the regular family excursions to the Brandon Regional Library and she talks about what keeps her coming back again and again.

We were so pleased that retired librarian, Jane Schwamberger visited the roadshow and brought some photos and ephemera from her scrapbook. Jane was the children's librarian in the late 1970s, while the Brandon Library was located on Robertson Drive. We scanned and returned her memorabilia and also offered to record her memories. Here is an image of a childrens' watercolor painting workshop in 1978 (right).
There were some photos contributed from another librarian, who worked at the Brandon Library from the late 1980s/early 1990s.  This Halloween-time staff photo is such an endearing image, demonstrating the enthusiasm and fun that staff have had working at this regional library branch (below).

Although not every who attended the roadshow wanted their memories recorded, we were well received by Brandon patrons, who expressed to us the immensely important role that this public library has held for the community since services became available in 1960s. There was also a Burgert Brother photograph display in the main lobby with selected images of the Brandon region, as well as images from the branch archive collection.

Brandon's growth has been exponential since the library began as a reading room within the Brandon Women's Club, located on Moon Avenue in 1960. Library services have since rapidly grown along with population growth and industrial expansion, quickly becoming one of the largest and busiest branch library within the Hillsborough County Public Library system. 

The next roadshow will be December 1st at the Town 'N County from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.  See you there!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Brandon Library History Roadshow: September 15th

The next Library History Roadshow will be...

The Brandon Regional Library
619 Vonderburg Drive,
Brandon, FL  33511

Saturday, September 15th
10:00 a.m - 3:00 p.m.

Library service in the community began in 1960 when the Brandon Women's Club opened a corner of its club building (above), at 129 North Moon Street, to house the 1,000 "Brandon Area Library" books.

In 1968, the Brandon Branch Library, operated by the Tampa Public Library System, opened at 135 West Robertson Street (right). An expansion to that facility was completed in 1975 but the need for a larger building became apparent as the community continued to grow.

The library opened at its current 25,000 sq. ft. location, on Vonderburg Dr (below), on March 10, 1991 with a new name -- Brandon Regional Library -- one of the original two regional libraries in the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library System. 

Do you have a memory, photographs or memorabilia from the Brandon library to share?  If so, please come bring them to the Brandon Regional Library history Roadshow so that they can go down in history!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Lutz Branch Library: Pioneer memories

There was a great turnout to the Library History Roadshow at the Lutz Branch Library this last Saturday! Enjoy some photos from the event in this slide show:

Not only did we acquire the branch collection of documents and photos, which was donated from past librarians and library patrons for the Tampa-Hillsborough Library History Archive, but the Friends of the Lutz Branch Library came to have their library memories recorded.  They also provided lemonade and a delicious assortment of cookies.

Everyone was especially thrilled that our special guest, Dr. Susan McManus, PhD, who is a native of Lutz, came to share her extensive knowledge of the history of Lutz, as well as excerpts from her new book, Going, Going…Almost Gone: Lutz-Land O’Lakes Pioneers Share Their Precious Memories. We were so pleased that her book included a photo of the original Lutz Library (right) that we had been hoping to find.

Dr. McManus's presentation was very enlightening, personable, and entertaining, while the audience was a who's who of descendants of some notable Lutz pioneers.
In case you missed this event, we have the presentation recorded here. [video 57:44 min.] 

After the presentation, Mrs. Helen Swisshelm agreed to share her memories of the Lutz Branch Library.   Mrs. Swisshelm was a member of the Tampa-Hillsborough County Library Board from 1990 to 2005 and was its Chairwoman from 1992-1993. She was also the Founder of the Friends of the Lutz Library and its President from 2000 to 2007. The Lutz Branch Library's reading room is named in her honor for her on-going dedicated support of this library. 

Friend of the Lutz Branch Library, Barbara Bryan, talks about the benefits of getting involved with the Lutz Branch Library and she shares some examples of the contributions and commitments that the Friends of the Library provide to enrich library services for the local community.

Thanks to everyone who came to this event despite the rain, to Dr. Susan McManus for the informative presentation on the pioneers of the Lutz/Land O'Lakes region, and especially to the Friends of the Lutz Branch Library for their refreshments and unwavering support. 

Meanwhile, back at the archive headquarters, we continue to digitize library history documents in preparation of the centennial online exhibit of the history of the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Libraries.

Next up... Brandon Regional Library -- September 15th from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Lutz Roadshow this Saturday, July 28th!

Lutz Branch Library History Roadshow:
July 28th from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. with guest speaker, Dr. Susan MacManus, at 1:00 p.m.

Did you know that library service in Lutz started as a bookmobile stop in 1961?  A more substantial library was created later that decade in a wood frame building.  Staffed by volunteers, it provided one thousand volumes to the public on home-made bookcases. Do you have a memory of this library?  Gather your information and artifacts to share and head over to the
Lutz Branch Library for the latest stop of the Library History Roadshow, this Saturday, July 28, from 10am-3pm.

Lutz Branch Library c.1972
About the Event

Library History Roadshow staff will scan photos or memorabilia that residents bring and attendees will have an opportunity to record, as a video or audio, a brief story about their library experiences.  In addition, the Library History Roadshow will include information on local history, the preservation of historical items and a custom exhibit of Burgert Brothers photographs of the Lutz area.

About the Guest Speaker

Dr. Susan MacManus, PhD, Distinguished Professor, Political Analyst and noted Lutz historian, will be the guest speaker at the Lutz Branch Library History Roadshow.

Dr. MacManus and her mother, Elizabeth Riegler MacManus, have written two books on the Lutz/Land O’Lakes area. Her latest book, Going, Going…Almost Gone: Lutz-Land O’Lakes Pioneers Share Their Precious Memories, will be subject of her presentation. Copies of the book are available for checkout at the Lutz Branch Library and will be on sale after the presentation; a book signing will follow. The Friends of the Lutz Branch Library will provide light refreshments.

Come and bring your library memories! We look forward to seeing you at the Lutz Branch Library on July 28th!

The Library History Roadshow is a county-wide program of the Tampa-Hillsborough County Library System in partnership with the Tampa Bay History Center.

The program is free and open to the public.

For more information, call 813-273-3652 or visit:

Friday, June 29, 2012

We will soon be at your neighborhood library to gather your library memories!

Up-Coming Roadshows: 



Is your Hillsborough County Public Library Cooperative library not listed here yet? Don't fret, we are making plans to stop by in the near future. You can also check here for the latest Library History Roadshow updates.

Robert W. Saunders, Sr. Public Library Event Update!

Although we are still processing the videos and audio memories recorded from the Robert W Saunders, Sr. Public Library Roadshow on June 23rd,  we can say that the event was a success!

Despite the rainy weekend, people from the community came out to support their local library.  We gathered some interesting and unique historical items to add to the archive. Enjoy some photos from the event!

We would like to extend a special thanks to the Ada T. Payne Friends of the Urban Libraries for supplying refreshments for the event, as well as allowing us to digitize their Robert W. Saunders, Sr. Public Library collection of photos and ephemera. Mary James (left), President, and Brenda Staton (right), Treasurer and Library Board member, spoke to us about their Friends group involvement with this library. 

Fred Hearns, President of the Saunder Library Foundation, Inc., recall his insightful memories associated with the Ybor City Branch Library's historical past and what lead up to renaming the library the Robert W. Saunders, Sr., Public Library.

Also, thanks to Joe Stines, the Director of the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library System, for attending the event and for donating his personal collection from when he worked as a Youth Services Librarian at the Robert W. Saunders, Sr. Public Library (back when it was called the Ybor City Branch Library) in the 1980s. This news clipping (left) accompanied many fabulous children's programming event  photographs and fliers. He did well to document in his scrapbooks so many successful youth programs that brought the community together. [Article source:  Peninsula Tribune, February 19, 1986]

Stay tuned for more video memories that we gathered from this roadshow!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Roadshow this Saturday -- Ybor Branch/Saunders Public Library

Bring your memories of the Ybor Branch Library and Saunders Library this Saturday!

Listen to a message from Fred Hearns, President of the Saunders Library Foundation, for all current and former users of the Ybor City Branch Library, originally located at 1729 Broadway from 1933 to 1968, (later renamed in 2003 to the Robert W. Saunders, Sr. Public Library) and then 1505 Nebraska Avenue since 1969.

Last week, Fred Hearns visited the Robert W. Saunders, Sr. Public Library and recorded his memories. Now it is your turn! Take advantage of this opportunity and come to the Library History Roadshow!

When:  June 23, 2012 from 10 am to 3 pm
Where: 1505 Nebraska Ave., Tampa, FL 33602-2849

For more information, call 813-273-3652 or visit:

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Next up, Robert W. Saunders, Sr. Public Library, June 23, 2012!

Get ready! The next Library History Roadshow will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on June 23, 2012 at the Robert W. Saunders, Sr. Public Library -- formerly the old Ybor City Branch Library -- located at 1505 Nebraska Ave in Tampa, Florida. 

The Ybor City Branch Library originally opened in a storefront location, donated by the local Italian American Club (L'Unione Italiana), at 1729 East Broadway (now E. 7th Ave) in 1933. Initially, the library's collection was aimed towards the Spanish-speaking community and was open on a part-time basis. The location is now La Creperie Cafe.View

Do you remember going to this the Ybor City Branch Library when it was located here or have any photographs of this location from 1933 through the 1960s?  If so, we encourage you to share with us at the up-coming roadshow!

Construction of a new building at 1505 North Nebraska Avenue was planned as part of the 1968 Model Cities Maryland Avenue Urban Renewal project. Cigar City Magazine recently published an insightful article about urban renewal projects in the Ybor City vicinity.

The new library was designed by Architect Russell Minardi and features a lovely stone mural along the entrance wall entitled "Symbols of Mankind." Local artist Joe Testa Secca created the mural to reflect the diversity of the community and the knowledge found within the walls of the building.

The new library was finished and dedicated in January of 1969.  The photo shown here is from a slide from that era. 

On November 5, 2003, the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners voted to rename the Ybor City Branch Library to honor Robert W. Saunders, Sr., a civil rights activist and former NAACP Field Director.

Groundbreaking for a walkway to connect the Saunders library and Booker T. Washington Elementary School was held in May 2009 and opened in September of the same year.

Currently, plans are in the works for construction of a new library building that will better suit the community's growing needs. You may the most recent news about the new library building here.
For more information about Robert W. Saunders, Sr., read the St. Petersburg Times article, or visit the Robert W. Saunders, Sr. Library Foundation, Inc. web site.  You may also listen to his oral history produced by the University of South Florida's Florida Civil Rights Oral History Project.

The Robert W. Saunders, Sr. Public Library is supported by Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library System and the Ada T. Payne Friends of the Urban Libraries.

About the Event

Library History Roadshow staff will scan items residents bring and attendees will have an opportunity to record, as a video or audio, a brief story about their library experiences or photos or memorabilia.  In addition, the Library History Roadshow will include information on the preservation of historical items and an exhibit of Burgert Brothers photographs of the Ybor/Nebraska Avenue neighborhood.

The Library History Roadshow is a county-wide program of the Tampa-Hillsborough County Library System in partnership with the Tampa Bay History Center. The program is free and open to the public.

Come and bring your library memories! We look forward to seeing you at the Saunders Library on June 23rd!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Seminole Heights Library History Roadshow a Success!

The Seminole Heights Branch Library Roadshow was a success! Many people from the neighborhood came out and shared their memories.  In case you missed it on May 6th, here is a quick photo summary of the event. 

Suzanne Prieur (of Seminole Heights Preservation), Gene Howes (documentary film writer and director of Seminole Heights: An Intimate Look) and Bernadette Storck, (former librarian when the library re-opened in 1965, former Florida Library Association President) served on this library history panel, discussing the history the Seminole Heights Branch Library in Tampa, FL.

Below, Evan St. Ives, Treasurer of the Friends of the Seminole Heights Library, explains how this library was named, as well as future plans for the new library building, slated to open in the fall of 2013.

Mary J. Barron, who grew up in Seminole Heights, recalls riding her bicycle to the library...

Mary talks about reading the fairytale books compiled by Andrew Lang, which are available through the library's catalog or online.

Pat Benjamin, President of the Friends of the Seminole Heights Library, describes the reasoning behind the creation of their Friends chapter.  (Note: The audio is quiet on this clip, so please turn your volume up. A louder version will be posted soon!)

In case you are unfamiliar with our Friends of the Library chapters, they are organizations of citizens who share a passionate commitment for a strong library system. They function like a booster club for the library, working to strengthen the library's collection and support an array programs for the citizens of our community. Membership is open to all!

We were fortunate to have Harriet Ellington come to the roadshow. Harriet was the first African-American library assistant to work at the main library in the 1960s. She describes what it was like to work for the Tampa Public Library during the civil rights era and how working with the Tampa Public Library changed her life.

Below, Beverly Morrow talks about coming to the library when it was located in Memorial Park. She also brought her son to the current library building, where he developed a love of reading.

David Harvey tells us what it is like working as a security guard at the Seminole Heights Branch Library.

The participation in these Library History Roadshows continues to show us that Hillsborough County is rich with a variety of experiences and a shared history that revolves around the neighborhood library.  At each event, there is always an unexpected memory or artifact that surprises and enlightens our perspective about how libraries function as cultural hubs within the community and enrich the lives of so many individuals.

For more on the Seminole Heights Branch Library Roadshow, check out the articles published by the Tampa Tribune and the Seminole Heights

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Seminole Heights Branch Library History Roadshow: May 6, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

Seminole Heights, connected by the city's trolley system, was the first suburb of downtown Tampa. Its first library opened in 1927, and although it relocated a few times during its early history, it settled on the corner of Central and E Osborne Avenues, across from Hillsborough High and Memorial Middle schools.  Below is a photo of the original library building in 1936. Do you or someone you know remember going to this library building?

The Seminole Heights Branch Library quickly outgrew the needs of the community and was replaced with a new red brick building, that had double the space and took advantage of natural lighting.  It opened in spring of 1965. This is a photo from the time it opened.
After 47 years, the community has out-grown the small facility.  Plans for a new library building, three times the size, are slated. By mid-summer, this library will close for demolition

Do you have a favorite memory or photo or memorabilia from a Seminole Heights Branch Library program from the past? If so we would love to record it for the Library History Archive!  

Join us on Sunday, May 6, from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Seminole Heights Branch Library, located at 4711 Central Avenue -- at the corner of E Osborne Ave -- to share your memories. There will be a panel discussion that includes staff (some from the1960's!), long-time residents, as well as Gene Howes, the director of the documentary film, Seminole Heights: An Intimate Look at the Early Years, which will play twice during the event. Refreshments will be provided by the Friends of the Seminole Heights Library. Check back for updates  regarding the event schedule.

In the meantime, please call 813-273-3652 if you have any questions about the Seminole Heights Branch Library History Roadshow.

Bring your library stories and memorabilia and be part of history! We are really looking forward to this important event!  

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Temple Terrace Library History Roadshow, 4/13/2012

It was a beautiful day at Temple Terrace Public Library with a good turn out --  former staff and folks from community came out to share their photos, news clippings and memories.  In addition, the Library History Roadshow dove-tailed perfectly with the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Temple Terrace Public Library, so there was a buzz of enthusiasm surrounding these historical events.  Enjoy a photo slide show of the day's happenings!

Eleanor Howland, former Director of the Temple Terrace Public Library, worked for the library for 31 years. She's has so much of the library's history to share...

Daniel Morton, President of the Friends of the Temple Terrace Public Library, provides insight to how the Woman's Club was the driving force in the creation of Temple Terrace Public Library.

Diana McCumber was a library employee in the late 1970s/early 1980's and remembers the impact devastating fire in February, 1982.

Madelynne Johnson, who is also a former employee, is now Chair of the Temple Terrace Library Board. She shares her unique perspective into what it takes to keep the library going.

Bruce McCullough moved to Temple Terrace when he was a boy and has lived there since.  He holds a life time of memories of the community as it has grown, and especially of his fondness for the library. 

Armand Ternak, Director of the Temple Terrace Public Library, also had some words to share!

This library has a very interesting past and it has grown from modest beginnings to an impressive, dynamic resource for its community. It speaks volumes that the people of Temple Terrace voted to raise taxes so that they could keep extended library hours during the week -- there is no doubt that they love their public library!

A special thanks to everyone who came out to support this event, and especially to the Temple Terrace Public Library staff who made our visit fun!