Wednesday, January 16, 2013

John F. Germany Public Library's Roadshow is a party!

On Sunday, January 13th, the history of the John F. Germany Public Library (formerly the Tampa Public Library's Central Branch) was celebrated, coinciding with the 90th birthday of its namesake, Mr. John Germany

We were honored by the presence of past library directors' families, as well as retired librarians and other notable citizens that were integral in the creation of public libraries in our city and county. They all had memories to share of the challenges and successes about the formation of this library branch and the evolution of the the Tampa-Hillsborough County Library system as it developed over the years. We collected a variety of library memories to share.

Check out the slideshow, which begins with an images from the 1965 groundbreaking and construction in 1967:

Director of Libraries, Mr. Joe Stines, kicked off the event by welcoming attendees and Mr. Germany had a few thoughts to share with a party crowd, who were eager to listen.  After everyone had a slice of birthday cake and folks had a chance to visit with one another, we encouraged attendees to record their library memories.  

With anticipation, we recorded Mr. Cecil Beach, Director of Libraries from 1965-1972, who has a life-time repertoire of experience in developing libraries and library services at the public, state and national level.

Architect James Jennewein, who designed the library was in attendance.  This is the original model of the Central Branch Library that he designed, courtesy of the City of Tampa Archives.

We were so glad that Leo Meirose, Jr., son of past library director, Leo Meirose, Sr. (1972-1982), came to share his memories of this father's work for the Tampa Public Library system. Leo describes well (below) the challenges his father dealt with during an era when public libraries collections were heatedly contested by censorship. Meirose Sr.'s legacy is known for standing strong for intellectual freedom and free speech, which he was for honored by the Florida Library Association.


Retired Librarian, Bunny Pearce, who also donated a video memory at the Hyde Park Branch roadshow, also had spent time working at the Central Branch library. 

Frank Lakus, creating in 1970.
The weaving today, on YA/1-west floor
Frank Lakus, shared with us his memory of working at the Central Library in the mid-1960s-1970s.   He was commissioned to create a multi-media sculptural-weaving for the young adult wing in 1970, that still hangs in the window to this day. For decades since, Frank has been active with  puppeteering with the Hillsborough Storytelling Festival, in addition to working as an artist. Frank tells us his story:


YA, Main Library on 7th Ave. ca. 1964
Thanks to retired librarian Priscilla Lakus for bringing her photo albums spanning the 1960s through the 2000s. These photos are just a sampling of more to come...

We were absolutely thrilled with the turnout of roadshow guests.  Many THANKS to the Friends of the John F. Germany Public Library for contributing the refreshments, flowers and balloons -- it really made the event more special for everyone who attended the roadshow festivities.

You can look forward to seeing more Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library history when we unveil the Tampa-Hillsborough County Treasures site for the Centennial Celebration of the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library system on January 1, 2014 at the West Tampa Public Library, Tampa's first library. Save the date!