Saturday, May 3, 2014

Join us at the Jimmie B. Keel Regional Library on May 17, 2014!

Jimmie B. Keel Regional Library

2902 W. Bearss Ave.
Tampa, FL  33618

May 17th, 2014
10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

The Library History Roadshow is coming to the Jimmie B. Keel Regional Library

We are excited to see what the residents of Carrollwood, Northdale, and northwest Hillsborough County “bring to the table” on Saturday, May 17th! Staff will scan customer items during the event and return them the same day. Curious about the kinds of items we are looking for? Great finds include things like: your child’s first Northwest Regional or Jimmie B. Keel library card; a special award won for a library contest; photographs of the library and its programs; newspaper articles about the Northwest or Jimmie B. Keel libraries and more! Don't have any physical materials? That's OK! We welcome you to stop by and record your memories and personal stories about the library. All items and recordings will be considered for the the library system’s new Digital Collections, which include both a Jimmie B. Keel Regional Library collection  as well as a collection for its predecessor, the Northwest Regional Library.

About the Jimmie B. Keel Regional Library

In early 1981, the continuing major growth in northwest Hillsborough County began to stir up interest in both residents and the Library Board for a library in the area. Two residents, Henrietta Silverman and Evelyn Surles collected names on a petition asking for a branch library to be built near North Dale Mabry Highway and Ehrlich Road. They wanted a library that would serve those living in Carrollwood Village, Carrollwood Meadows, Country Place, Northdale, North Lakes, Cherry Creek, and Woodbriar. In October of 1981, the Hillsborough County Library Advisory Board voted to recommend that a new library be built in Northdale on a 1-1/4 acre site at Northdale and Mapledale boulevards donated by Criterion Corporation. In August 1982, the Hillsborough County Commission accepted the Criterion Corporation's offer of land for the new library branch and per the agreement, construction was set to begin by June 1984.

Library Director John Adams
On May 17, 1984, the groundbreaking ceremony was held for the new, $2 million, 20,000 square foot Northwest Branch Library to be built on Premier Drive just off of Northdale Boulevard. Slated to open in July 1985, the library’s inaugural launch was delayed by more than a year due to high construction bids, issues with the building permit and architect, and waiting on the arrival of several ordered parts.
At last, on December 7, 1986, the Northwest Branch Library was formally dedicated and opened to the public by Library Director, John Adams. 

Unfortunately, a difficult beginning was not the end of the new branch’s troubles. As the library became more popular and well-used, it was quite evident that the 45-space parking lot was too small for its audience. In 1994, plans were made to buy an adjacent 39,024 square feet of property at $97,500 for overflow parking to accommodate the 800 daily visitors to the library. In January 1995, repairs were required to deal with significant damage caused by water leaks that had been an ongoing issue since the library's opening. Officials estimated that the two-story building had sustained $200,000 in damages to walls and carpets in the manager’s office, auditorium, and circulation work room. Necessary repairs included a new roof, gutters, windows, paint, and some drywall patching. After the overhaul, which closed the library for about a month, the library reopened in June of 1995 and was rededicated as Northwest Regional Library on September 16, 1995. 

Northwest Regional Library
Despite all the work that had been done to the library's structure, troubles again surfaced in early 1998, when the County faced a hefty $800,000 in restoration to eliminate a severe mold issue. The restoration included a mandatory 3-6 month closure to ensure the safety of patrons and staff. At about the same time, library officials also were realizing that the branch library would need an expansion to keep up with the area’s quickly growing demands and several Library Advisory Board members suggested it might be easier to close Northwest and build an entirely new library. 

In April 1998, Jacksonville-based Austin Davis Family/Winn Dixie Charities offered $3 million to replace the ailing 11-year-old Northwest Regional Library. This was at the encouragement of Kay O'Rourke, daughter of Winn-Dixie co-founder Austin Davis and chairwoman of the Hillsborough County Library Advisory Board. By July 1999, several possible sites had been narrowed down to a 6.8-acre parcel on Bearss Avenue a few miles east of North Dale Mabry Highway and tangible plans for a new 25,000 square foot library began.

On February 9, 2001, the old Northwest Regional Library closed and just five days later on February 14 its replacement, the Jimmie B. Keel Regional Library, opened its doors at 2902 W. Bearss Avenue in Carrollwood. The new library was named in honor of Jimmie B. Keel, a long-time county employee who served as the Assistant County Administrator in charge of Human Services and was the first African American social worker hired by the county in the late 1950s. The library was formally dedicated on June 7, 2001. 

In 2012, due to the popularity of and increased traffic at the library, a 2.02 acre parcel owned by the County just south of Jimmie B. Keel Regional Library's parking lot was paved and designed as a new 60-65 space parking lot extension. Additionally, in January of 2013 construction of a 10,000 square foot expansion began to allow for a larger children’s room, an additional community room, an expanded Friends of the Library bookstore, and a new entrance on the west side of the building. The expansion was completed February 2014 and to celebrate, the staff at the Jimmie B. Keel Regional Library held an open house with fun activities for all ages on April 27th, 2014. 

Do you have library memories or artifacts you would like to share? We look forward to learning about your history with the libraries and hope you will join us on Saturday, May 17th for the next stop of the Library History Roadshow!