Sunday, January 26, 2014

Celebrating the C. Blythe Andrews, Jr. Public Library Feb. 22

C. Blythe Andrews, Jr. Public Library

C. Blythe Andrews, Jr. Public Library 
(formerly the College Hill Branch Library)
2607 E. Dr. MLK, Jr. Blvd.
Tampa, FL 33610

Library History Roadshow
February 22, 2014
1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Community Room

The Library History Roadshow is coming to the C. Blythe Andrews, Jr. Public Library! This special event will also commemorate the Belmont Heights Little League, featuring former Negro League Baseball players, Walter "Dirk" Gibbons and Clifford "Quack" Brown who will discuss their experiences in a unique panel discussion at 2:00 pm.

Throughout the event, the Roadshow crew will be gathering, digitizing and recording library history and memories!  If you haven't checked it out already, here is a sample of what has been collected already for the C. Blythe Andrews, Jr. Public Library History Collection. We're looking forward to adding more!

History of the Library

East Gate Branch, ca. 1980
The C. Blythe Andrews, Jr. Public Library is the result of an evolution of library services in East Tampa neighborhoods.  On November 5th, 1978, Director of Libraries, Leo Meirose replaced bookmobile service at the East Gate Shopping Center by opening the East Gate Branch Library at 2311 E. Hillsborough Avenue. It was strategically positioned near the corner of N. 22nd Street in a highly visible, commercial zone to better serve the East Tampa/College Hill neighborhoods. After 8 years at this location, the lease was not renewed due to a change in landlords who preferred a retail business in that location. The branch closed on December 31, 1985. 

With the need for a local public library in East Tampa, the Friends of the College Hill Library formed on October 6, 1987 to spearhead the initiative for the construction of a permanent library for the 1,410 families residing in the neighborhood.  By June 1988, County Commissioners approved, "in concept," a library building in College Hill. 

In the interim, under the guidance of the newly appointed Director of Libraries, John M. Adams, the library reemerged as the 'Eastlake Branch Library.' It was positioned further east at 5701 E. Hillsborough Avenue and 56th Ave. on the lower level of the Eastlake Square Mall in April 1988. While being located in the mall increased visibility, this location was unfortunately not convenient for the majority of East Tampa residents. 

College Hill Branch, 1989
After two years of the Friends working for a new library in their neighborhood, College Hill celebrated the opening of their first library on the corner of 26th and Buffalo Avenue (now East Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.) on July 13th, 1989 in a temporary 800 sq. ft., double-wide trailer. It was a great success for the Friends of the College Hill Library, but they didn't stop there. By August 1991, plans for a College Hill Library construction project were unveiled.

After encountering some issues surrounding land acquisition and a backlog of pending county capital projects the project was delayed. It wasn't until May 14, 1993 that the temporary library closed and June 24, 1993 marked the kick-off of the library's construction.

Current Library Building Highlights

The current library building's dedication was celebrated on February 27, 1994, with a Proclamation presented by the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners and over 400 visitors in attendance.  

Just a few years later, in March 2000, the College Hill Branch Library was chosen as one of 30 locations nationally to host "B.J." from the Tom Joyner show to promote the 2000 Census activities. 
Unveiling the portrait of
Matthew Gregory, 2006

February 18, 2006 was marked with a special ceremony held to rename the library's meeting room in honor of Matthew Gregory (1903-1982), former president of the Tampa Branch of the NAACP and former president of the Tampa Branch of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters.

In 2007, the library closed from July 15-August 31 for renovations.  

On February 11, 2011, the College Hill Branch Library was officially renamed the C. Blythe Andrews, Jr. Public Library, in honor of the publisher of the Florida Sentinel Bulletin. Watch the Hillsborough County's official video of the ceremony

As of January 2014, there are plans for the library's expansion that are expected to come to fruition over the next few years. 

Do you have memories, photos or memorabilia related to the C. Blythe Andrews, Jr. Public Library, or the East Gate, or College Hill Branch? 

The Library History Roadshow team will be onsite at the library to digitize your library memories for our archive from 1:00-4:00 p.m. on February 22nd. Stop by to record a video or oral memory, or bring in photos or memorabilia and we will be happy to scan and return them to you while you wait.

Join us as we gather the library's history! 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Bruton Memorial Library -- A community hub and gold mine for local history

Plant City Public Library, 1960
Present and former employees, members of the Plant City Women's Club, Friends of the Library and loyal patrons alike turned out for the Bruton Memorial Library History Roadshow on December 7, 2013. Many positive experiences were shared and participants enjoyed taking part in discovering and preserving their public library's history.

In addition to the event itself, Roadshow staff were thrilled to explore Bruton Memorial Library's extensive collection of historical documents, vintage photographs and fun artifacts, such as Mrs. Bruton's typewriter, the original facade's library sign letters, and collection book accession records dating back to the library's beginnings.

Roadshow visitors viewed the Library's collection of history on display and were able to flip through many scrapbooks filled with newspaper clippings from the 1930's through the 1980s.

The roadshow crew recorded nearly a dozen video memories, many from past employees and Women's Club volunteers (and some telling stories from the 1940s-50s).  Attendees also took advantage of being captured in a photo alongside a life-size cutout representation of Andrew Carnegie, our Centennial mascot.

The initiative for a public library in Plant City was spearheaded by the Plant City Women's Club in 1927.  During the roadshow, Plant City Women's Club Presidents (past and present) Judy Glorioso and Alise Sollenberger shared their knowledge of the club's participation in the library's history, as well as their continued involvement in supporting library services in their community.

Library Director, Anne Haywood, holds many years of service at Bruton Memorial Library and remembers Quintilla and Judge Brutons' passion for their public library.

Felicia Broome has also worked for the library in Plant City for many years and provided insight into her experiences.

Carolyn Henderson, a long-time staff member, explains why the Bruton Memorial Library is so important to the fabric of its community.

Geradine Demming's mother and grandmother were members of the Plant City Women's Club and she recalls helping them in the library as a young girl.

Mary Missing Shalhub-Davis was a part-time employee of the Plant City Public Library in the 1960s; she shares her experience of what the library was like back then.

Library patron Stephen Tracy took the time to share his memories of the Bruton Memorial Library over the years.

Shelley Schneider tells the story of how important the quality of the local public library was as a deciding factor for her family's relocation to Plant City -- a testimony revealing the many ways in which the public library affects residents' quality of life.

Jason Mattair shares why the library is such special part of his daily routine over the last 20 years.

Siblings, Donald and Theresa Carnley are long-time and ongoing patrons at the Bruton Memorial Library. Here, they share share what keeps them coming back.

Many thanks to the Bruton Memorial Library for their hospitality and to all their supporters for coming out to make this event such a success. The Roadshow team will be busy for some time with all that was gathered for preservation during the roadshow. Stay tuned to the library's newly unveiled Digital Collections, which include a special Bruton Memorial Library History Collection, to see items as they are added by our archivers!