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.