Saturday, November 23, 2013

8/10/2013: Bruton Memorial Library History Roadshow


Bruton Memorial Library
302 W McLendon Street
Plant City, FL  33563

December 7, 2013
10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Do you have a Plant City Library memory, photograph or memorabilia to share? 

In preparation for the centennial of the
Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library system, the Library History Roadshow team will be visiting the Bruton Memorial Library on December 7th to digitize library memories for our history archive.   

Record a video or oral memory, or bring in photos or memorabilia to be scanned and returned to you while you wait!

Come see the unique display of historic Burgert Brother's photographs on exhibit, created especially for this event, curated by Librarian David Parsons and join the Friends of the Bruton Memorial Library  in some refreshments as they also share their history library and memorabilia.  

Overview of the library's history

The history of the Bruton Memorial Library spans nearly 96 years.  Like Hillsborough County's public libraries in Ruskin, Brandon, Temple Terrace and Port Tampa City, the Bruton Memorial Library was started by a women's club, specifically, the Plant City Woman's Club. 

December 4, 1960, Tampa Tribune
In 1917, Plant City citizens met with the Carnegie Foundation with the hopes of getting a Carnegie funded library, however, the opportunity passed due to inadequate local interest at the time.  The Woman's Club started operating a library in their club house in 1927 and although the library only consisted of a few shelves of books, members were more than willing to pay a small fee to join. The library was formally opened to the public in 1929 in the building that was previously the Central Grammar School, located on the southwest corner of Baker Street and Wheeler Street in Plant City. 

In 1933, members of the Woman's Club persuaded the city commission to designate the Miller home, an old frame building on the corner of McLendon and Wheeler Streets, as the site of a library. Once they accepted responsibility for renovating the building, they used part of the building as their club meeting house and designated a corner of the building as the Plant City Library where they shelved their collection of roughly 2,000 donated books.

Left to right: Mrs. Fred Stevenson (librarian),
Mrs. James D. Bruton (library board),
Mrs. L. T. Lanford (hospitality chair)
It is unlikely that a library would have existed in Plant City at this time without the determination of this handful of women driven to maintain its presence in their rural city. A notable participant in this process was Mrs. Quintilla Geer Bruton. She not only took an active role in the campaign to secure the building space for the library, but in 1958 spearheaded an initiative to improve library services in Plant City. Through this initiative, she spurred a special election, the result of which created a library tax to fund the building and maintenance of a brand new library facility on that same site. A library board was created and the city hired its first official librarian.

December 5, 1960 marked the dedication of the new Plant City Library building.  The 4,300 square-foot facility was the first of its kind in Florida, constructed of three earthen-toned precast stone panels and one solid glass plate wall. It held approximately 22,000 volumes in air-conditioned comfort.

In 1962, Mrs. Bruton became the Chair of the State Library Board and in 1963, the Plant City Library was awarded the Book-of-the-Month award and recognized as an outstanding small public library. By 1970, an expansion of the library was underway, boosting the library to 9,000 square-feet with a capacity for 40,000 volumes.

In the early 1980s, Bruton fought tirelessly to ensure that a Plant City Library Board would maintain its autonomy in the wake of the city-county library system merger. She played a prominent role in the design of the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library System's inter-local agreement for the Plant City Public Library in 1984.

After she passed away in 1989, Bruton's husband donated $100,000 to purchase adjacent land so that the library could be expanded once more. In 1990, the library was rededicated in her honor and renamed the Quintilla Geer Bruton Memorial Library.  Construction on the expansion began in 1993 with an additional $200,000 that Mr. Bruton donated. That same year, the library's Friends of the Library organization was incorporated. 

The remodeled library, now 20,000 square-feet, reopened in April of 1994 with its first computerized catalog system. Shortly after the death of Quintilla's husband, Judge James D. Bruton, the name of the library was shortened to Bruton Memorial Library to recognize both of their contributions to its success. 


Bruton, Quintilla Geer. (1985). Six decades of service: A history of the Women's Club of Plant City. Women's Club of Plant City: Plant City, Fla.

Conway, Edward. (Oct. 13, 1969). Plant City Library Expanding. The Tampa Tribune: Tampa, Fla.

Darling, Dave. (Feb. 16, 1989). Plant City to rename library in memory of Quintilla Bruton. Tampa Tribune: Tampa, Fla.

Landers, Stacy (Jan. 7, 1984). Library officials want no part of two proposed bills. The Tampa Tribune: Tampa, Fla.

Sinclair, Ward. (Sept. 27, 1962). Plant citian gets library post. The Tampa Times: Tampa, Fla.

Smith, Claude. (Apr. 22, 1963). Author decries loss of nation's pioneers. The Tampa Tribune: Tampa, Fla.

Walker, Jane. (Dec. 4, 1960). Women play prominent part in establishing city library.  The Tampa Tribune: Tampa, Fla.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Riverview Branch Library Fondly Remembered and Cherished by Community

From 10 am until 3 pm, there was a steady flow of  attendance at the Riverview Branch Library History Roadshow on Saturday, November 16th. Following the history of the library, which was built on the site of a worm farm, children enjoyed a worm-themed story time and gummy worm snack activity while the adults enjoyed tasty refreshments offered by the Friends of the Riverview Library. 

  Several scrapbooks were on hand for roadshow visitors to peruse and an historic Burgert Brother's photographic display, specially created for the event by librarian David Parsons sparked memories of how the library came to be in Riverview. Many notable people from the library's history came to the roadshow to speak about their involvement in its development and to expound upon its services and commitment to the community.

Before the library was constructed, there was bookmobile service to Riverview. 
Friend of the Library, Judy White used to drive the Bookmobile in Riverview before the library existed and has been a supporter of the library since its inception.

Linda McMullen Alfonso, daughter of the founder of the Riverview Library Association, came and recorded her memory of her father's endeavor to establish a permanent library in Riverview. Without his leadership, it might have been many years before there would be a local library.

Library advocate and former library board member, Alice Storms and her husband Nat came to the roadshow and shared their memories. Alice's leadership with the library board was pivotal to the creation and expansion of many libraries in Hillsborough County over the decades and we thank her for all her hard work over the years! 

An original Friend of the Riverview Library, Betty Hancock tells us about her husband's role in the acquisition of the land on which the library was built. 

We were moved by the Vargas family's love of the Riverview Branch Library and their love of reading. July shared with us their collection of photographs of their girls growing up in the library and participating in a variety of library programs.

Patricia Moore, with her daughter Laurel, also shared photos of her children growing up at the library and brought in many of the crafts and awards they received over the years participating in activities including the annual baking contest.

Thanks to everyone who came out the the Riverview Branch Library History Roadshow and to the hospitable branch staff. We had a great time gathering your library's history! 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Celebrating the Riverview Branch Library, 11/16

Riverview Branch Library, circa 1990

Riverview Branch Library
10509 Riverview Drive
Riverview, FL 33578

November 16, 2013
10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Do you have memories, photos or memorabilia of the Riverview Branch Library to share? 

Do you remember coming to a unique or special program at the Riverview Branch Library? Or do you remember when the area was only serviced by the Bookmobile? If so, we want to hear from you! The Library History Roadshow team is coming to the Riverview Branch Library to digitize library memories for the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library System's digital history archive. Record a video or oral memory, or bring in photos or memorabilia to be scanned and returned to you while you wait.
Groundbreaking, Sep. 28, 1978

Overview of the library's history

Library service to the community originated with the "Riverview Station", a bookmobile stop at a local grocery store. A group of citizens later formed the Riverview Library Association when they saw the need for a permanent library building to better serve the communities of Riverview, South Brandon, Progress Village and Gibsonton. With the Gardinier Corporation's donation of land, (which had formerly been used as a worm farm!) the plans became a reality.

Burying the time capsule
during construction, 1979

County officials, library board members and Friends of the Library broke ground for the construction of the Riverview Library on September 28, 1978. 

Dedication ceremony, Nov. 18, 1979

During construction of the facility, the Riverview Library Association and library staff embedded a bicentennial time capsule into the structure. 

Four years after the proposal for a library, the Riverview Branch Library opened November 18, 1979.

Join us as we gather the Riverview Branch Library's history on Saturday, Nov. 16 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.  Make it a family affair: A special, worm-themed Story Time for children will take place at 10:30 a.m. followed by a fun activity, hope to see you there!

North Tampa Branch Library at The Heart of its Community

North Tampa Branch Library, 2013
8916 N. Boulevard, Tampa
On October 19th, the Roadshow team visited the busy North Tampa Branch Library

  The event featured a Burgert Brother's photographic exhibit uniquely tailored to showcase North Tampa's history and years of bookmobile service. Additionally, we were honored to host North Tampa native, Commissioner Ken Hagan, who shared anecdotes of growing up and using his neighborhood library. 

Several visitors of all ages recorded their memories of the North Tampa Branch Library and members of the Friends of the North Tampa  Branch Library helped to identify old photographs for the archive. Visitors and library staff enjoyed refreshments while they recalled memories triggered by the display of Burgert Bros. historic images from the region.  View images from the Library History Roadshow event as well as some photos from the library's past:

Listen as Nando describes what he loves about the North Tampa Branch Library:

Norman Duran also expressed his appreciation for the library:

'Flat Andy' and Friends President, Melodee Suarez at the 
North Tampa Branch Library History Roadshow
Attendees also had the opportunity to pose with the library's Centennial Celebration mascot, "Flat Andy." Andy is the library's lighthearted take of philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, the benefactor of Tampa's first public libraries -- the West Tampa Branch (est. 1914) and the original Tampa Public Library building (est.1917). The kick-off for the library's Centennial Celebration is January 1st at 2:00 pm at the West Tampa Branch Library!

Many thanks to the Friends of the North Tampa Branch Library and library staff for their hospitality during our visit!  We were very pleased to have Commissioner Ken Hagan's North Tampa Branch library memories recorded for the library history archive and also to showcase the importance of public libraries to our county leaders.

Join us at the next stop at the Riverview Branch Library on November 16, 2013 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.!