Tuesday, September 30, 2014

78th Street Community Library: Its legacy of community improvement

On September 20th, 2014, the 78th Street Community Library’s doors opened and the Library History Roadshow was set up and ready to digitize library memories in the community room. There, The Friends of the 78th Street Community Library brought refreshments and the Roadshow crew was poised to digitize library memories.  

A steady stream of visitors bringing their photographs of the library’s groundbreaking ceremony and opening ribbon cutting ceremonies, as well as documents pertaining to the library’s public art collection kept the scanning station very busy. Meanwhile outside, a DJ played hip tunes, making the event extra festive.

At 11:30 a.m., Roadshow crew video recorded a public discussion about this history of the library, consisting of local activists who were instrumental in the pursuing the creation of a public library in their community. 

Fred Hearns, Jan Morris, and Hilrie Kemp, Jr. discussed and answered audience questions about the library’s beginnings and what it took to get a permanent library constructed in their community.  

They described their 10 years of soliciting the Hillsborough Board of County Commissioners and the Library Board to support the initiative to build a library in their community.  Their persistence paid off with the result of a $1.8 million, 8,000 square foot library that opened in June 1997 to serve Clair-mel, Progress Village, and Palm River Communities.

Dolores Johnson and Esther Graham talked about how the Friends of the 78th Street Community Library formed, as well as some of the challenges that they have encountered in rallying support for this library. 

Mr. Hilrie Kemp discusses his experiences in being part of the library's beginnings, as well as his history with the Progress Village community. 

The Roadshow crew would like to thank all of the people who took the time to stop by and share their memories; they will go down in Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library history! 

We also want to thank the Friends of the 78th Street Community Library for bringing refreshments, especially Dolores Johnson and Esther Graham for supporting their library. A special thanks to Fred Hearns, Jan Morris, and Hilrie Kemp, Jr. for offering to share their experiences of the long, obstacle-ridden road to develop a new library from idea to reality.  

For more on the 78th Street Community Library, see its digital collection