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