Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Next Stop: Upper Tampa Bay Regional Public Library: May 3, 2014

Welcome to Upper Tampa Bay Regional Library! 

Upper Tampa Bay 
Regional Public Library
11211 Countryway Blvd.
Tampa, FL  33626

May 3, 2014
10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Calling all fans of the Upper Tampa Bay Regional Public Library! 
Have you attended a memorable program or found a resource that improved your quality of life at the Upper Tampa Bay Regional Public Library?  Is there a program or class that helped to make life easier or expanded your mind?  Perhaps you have encountered a particular staff member who just makes your day? If you have photos or a story about the library that you would like to share, please join us Saturday, May 3rd when the Library History Roadshow crew will be on site! 

Bring your photos and memorabilia, or just stop by to record a video memory!  The Roadshow crew will digitize and return your items while you wait.  Items will be added to the ever-expanding Upper Tampa Bay Regional Public Library's digital collection

During the event, a historic Burgert Brothers photograph exhibit will be on display. The Roadshow brings these photos from our special collections to help generate discussion and spark memories of Hillsborough County's past. 

A brief look back into the library's history...

The push for a library in the Upper Tampa Bay region began in 2000.  The Westchase community had accessibility to the West Gate Regional Library in Town N' Country, a branch library noted for the highest circulation in the county's library system, but with limited parking. Those facts, plus the growing population in the Upper Tampa  Bay region drove Maureen Gauzza to spearhead the Friends of the Upper Tampa Bay Regional Library's initiative to have a regional library serving the communities of Westchase, Countryway, Charleston Corners, Fawn Ridge, Twin Branch Acres and Citrus Park.  

In May 2001, the Library Board identified three possible sites for a new 10,000 sq. ft. library in that region. The Friends of the Upper Tampa Bay Library unanimously voted for a site at Countryway Blvd. near Linebaugh Ave., and despite concerns about the cost and visibility of the location, County Commissioners approved their choice in December.  The 7.6 acre piece of land was de-annexed from the Westchase Community Development Taxing District to save the county $62,000 per year in taxing district fees. 

Following this decision, the Upper Tampa Bay Library Foundation, Inc. (UTBLF), led by Brett Scharringhausen, formed in an effort to raise money to purchase more land and vie for construction of a larger library facility better suited for the area's growing population. On March 19th, 2003, County Commissioners heard the UTBLF and Friends' arguments for the expansion and voted to expand the library to 15,000 sq. ft. Architecture sketches of the proposed library were shared with the Friends in August 2003. The plans mirrored the regional library in Bloomingdale, but the Upper Tampa Bay Regional Public Library would have a locally unique style all its own. The groundbreaking ceremony was held on December 12, 2003, with a deadline for completion set for December 2004.  

On January 8, 2005, the Upper Tampa Bay Regional Public Library facility was dedicated at 11211 Countryway Blvd. in Tampa, offering a full range of resources and services both in person and online for residents in the Westchase area. Construction of the $4.5 million building was funded by the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners and a grant from the Florida Department of State, Division of Library Services. A beautiful gazebo welcomes visitors and generous donations of art from the Westfield Mall at Citrus Park and the Westchase Artists Society adorn the grounds of this bustling community cornerstone.

In December 2012, Hillsborough County announced that the start of the library expansion, creating a new, larger children's room, additional space for technology and teen activities, a large community room for programs and meetings, more quiet study spaces, and a bigger Friends of the Library bookstore. As a Hillsborough County Capital Improvement Project, the library's expansion project was funded with ad valorem tax dollars provided by the special library taxing district. Ten years later, this library will be celebrating its expansion to 26,000 square-feet with a ribbon cutting in May 2014.  See more photos on the expansion

The Friends of the Upper Tampa Bay Regional Library continue to provide ample and appreciated support for the many programs that are hosted at the library each month and welcome you to this event celebrating the history and value of this community resource. 

Join us May 3rd and take part -- share your library memories and memorabilia and be a part of library history!