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!