Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Next Stop: Bloomingdale Regional Public Library, April 12, 2014

Join us in celebrating...

Bloomingdale Regional Public Library
in Valrico, Florida
April 12, 2014

10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

The Bloomingdale Regional Public Library serves communities in east Hillsborough County including Bloomingdale, Valrico, Lithia and FishHawk Ranch. In addition to a wealth of resources, this library boasts a wide variety of programming. Highlights have included panel discussions with members of the Tuskegee Airmen, the Tampa Rockets (Negro League Baseball players), as well as local authors like Tim Dorsey. Other popular programs include the Kuumba dancers, Mah Jongg classes, Teen poetry slam and more!

Do you have memorabilia or a favorite memory of a program offered by the Bloomingdale Regional Public Library to share? If so, come and have it digitized for the library's digital archive
Library's interior during construction

About the library...

In 2001, word of a new library in the South Brandon region began to be published in local newspapers with potential sites for the library under debate. By summer of 2003, the site of the new 'South Brandon Regional Library' was chosen. The Tampa Tribune article, "Plans for new public library under way" from May 7, 2003, explains how the choice was made:

"The county commission was debating between the Bloomingdale site and a site just south of Lithia Springs Elementary School. In the end, the board was swayed by an offer of free land. Candi Martin, a member of the McLean family, which farmed the Bloomingdale site for more than 100 years, said the family agreed not only to sell 5.8 acres for $265,000, well below the $735,000 appraisal, but opted to throw in an additional acre. Martin said the reason for the gesture is because her family would like to leave a lasting contribution in the community that has been their home for generations. Another factor in choosing the Bloomingdale site was an offer from FishHawk Ranch developers to donate property for a library in that development, slated to have 7,000 homes when it's built out. Mike Kelly, director of the county's real estate department, said his staff looked at the area that FishHawk Ranch was setting aside for a library and found it would be suitable."

By early December 2003, the South Brandon chapter of the Friends of the Library was forming in time for the December 8th groundbreaking of the library's construction.  The 15,000 square foot building took a little over a year to construct and had its soft opening on February 7th and official dedication on February 10th, 2005. 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

Librarian Julie Beamgard was the first branch manager to take the helm of the new library, renamed the Bloomingdale Regional Public LibraryIt was the first library branch in the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library System to have a genealogical collection outside of the collection housed at the John F. Germany Public Library in downtown Tampa, making it the perfect meeting place for the Greater Brandon Genealogical Society. Eloise Hurst, the current branch manager, recently said that the branch library handles 60,000 items per month and hosts hundreds of programs each year. 

Bloomingdale's expansion, May 6, 2013
In February 2013, an expansion of the library began and added approximately 10,000 square-feet, allowing for a new, larger children's room, more space for teen activities and technology, an additional community room, a bigger Friends of the Library bookstore, and additional seating for quiet study. The expansion was completed in December 2013.  

Come celebrate the Bloomingdale Regional Public Library's history and future by joining us on Saturday, April 12th! 


Monday, March 17, 2014

SouthShore Regional Library Shines

SouthShore Regional Library, 2014
On March 8th, the roadshow crew set up in the entryway of SouthShore Regional Library, ready to capture library memories from patrons passing by.

In only in its 8th year of existence, it is clear that this library has made a mark in the community as a shining beacon of resources and bustling community activity. 

Librarians as well as key stakeholders like members of the Friends of the SouthShore Regional Library and other patrons, came and recorded their unique memories about the library. Also acquired was a collection of newspaper clippings, memorabilia and photos about the library, which are all in the process of being added to the library's digital collection! 

In addition to the hospitality of the SouthShore staff, we enjoyed an impressive exhibit of children's art and the interest from patrons passing by the historic Burgert Brothers photographic exhibit, curated especially for the event. 

Enjoy some images from the event!

Video memories collected included SouthShore's first branch supervisor, Eloise Hurst, who shared what it was like getting involved with the community to promote the new library. 

Youth Services Senior Librarian, Bill Harris, worked at SouthShore when it opened and was its first library technical assistant (LTA). He shares what that was like and also talks about how some of the teen programs started at SouthShore Regional Library later became successful system-wide. [Note: Audio levels are loud on this recording, so please adjust your volume.]

The current branch supervisor, Lorri Robinson, shares how many of the activities at the library make the SouthShore Regional Library so unique and so popular within its community. 

One of SouthShore Regional Library's special features is its genealogy collection. Vice President of the South Bay Genealogical Society, Judy Jouglet, shares how the library and its collection has been important to her and the genealogical organization. 

Many thanks to all who contributed to preserving the library's history by sharing library memories!  It's never too late record a video memory or oral history of your experiences with your local Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library, just call 813-273-3652 to make arrangements. 

Be a part of the library system's centennial celebration by joining us at the next roadshow stop on Saturday, April 12th at the Bloomingdale Regional Public Library!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Library History Roadshow Coming to the SouthShore Regional Library, March 8th, 2014

SouthShore Regional Library

Next stop for the Library History Roadshow...

15816 Beth Shields Way
Ruskin, FL 33573
Saturday, March 8
10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Contribute to the Library History Archive!

  Calling all fans of the SouthShore Regional Library! Have you attended a memorable program or found a resource that improved your quality of life at the SouthShore Regional Library?  Do you use the art studio or visit the genealogy center?  Perhaps you have encountered a particular staff member that made a helpful impression? If you have photos or a story about the library that you would like to share, please join us Saturday, March 8 when the Library History Roadshow crew will be on site to record your memories!

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 SouthShore Regional Library's digital collection!

During the event, a special historic Burgert Brothers photograph exhibit created for the SouthShore Regional Library community will be on display.  These historic photos help to generate discussion and spark memories of Hillsborough County's past.
Tampa Tribune, March 11, 2003

A look back at the history of SouthShore Regional Library:

As the Hillsborough County's southern region developed quickly through the 1990s, a movement rallying for a regional public library began in 1997 by the Apollo Beach, Gibsonton, Wimauma, and south Ruskin communities. At the same time, plans were in the works for a new elementary school on a stretch of land along 19th Avenue that would suit both needs.

In 2000, 16 acres were reserved for the South County Regional Library to be constructed just west of the where the Cypress Creek Elementary School was planned.  A Friends of the South County Regional Library group formed to motivate the initiative as well as generate funds and interest among community members. By 2004, the library's construction project timeline was released to the public. 

The groundbreaking ceremony kicked-off the construction of the 40,000 square-foot library on April 7, 2005. The $10,138,000 facility, constructed by Gould Evans Architects with the aid of a $500,000 public library construction grant from the Florida Department of State Division of Library and Information Services, was officially dedicated November 9, 2006.  

Renamed the SouthShore Regional Library before its opening, the system's 25th branch library boasted the John Crawford Art Education Studio and collection, a genealogy center, a wildlife-themed children's room, 20 computer stations, a bookstore and vending-cafe, meeting rooms and a large community space.  SouthShore Regional library was an innovative addition to the Tampa-Hillsborough Public Library System and libraries constructed since have incorporated many of its sophisticated features and amenities, which reflect the community it serves.

Veteran librarian Eloise Hurst became the branch
Mr. James J. Harkins, IV
 manager of the new library and soon after was named the 2007 Library Staff Member of the Year by the Tampa-Hillsborough County Friends of the Library, Inc.

November 16, 2007 marked the dedication of the James J. Harkins Plaza, honoring the efforts of Friend of the Library and Library Board member James J. Harkins, IV.

Join us as we archive the history of the SouthShore Regional Library while celebrating its 8th year serving as a cultural hub for the south county community. Be a part of history!

Bustling College Hill library hoards heaps of history

Tampa Tribune's report on the library's dedication, July 14, 1989
The Roadshow crew was pleased to have members of the Ada T. Payne Friends of the Urban Libraries, current and retired staff and regular patrons attend the C. Blythe Andrews, Jr. Public Library's Library History Roadshow event this past Saturday, February 22nd.

Special items uncovered at the event included: a 1994 edition of the Friends of College Hill Library's cookbook, I Don't Measure that Stuff; a stack of newspaper articles about the library and its renaming; Friends of the Library and staff snapshots; and vintage files on the many programs the library has hosted over the years. 

The library also hosted a panel discussion featuring our local Negro League Baseball Players, Clifford "Quack" Brown and Walter "Dirk" Gibbons, moderated by fan Neil Armstrong.  In addition to talking about playing for the Negro League, the discussion also included the community's historic Belmont Heights Little League, which Cliff Brown had coached, a collection of vintage newspaper clippings about the team, and some of Walter Gibbon's personal baseball photos.  Enjoy some pictures from the event! 

All of these historical treasures are in the process of being added to the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library's Digital Collections as part of the C. Blythe Andrews Library history collection. This ongoing project reflects the history of the library in East Tampa. Thanks to all who came out to participate and to the branch staff for their hospitality!

Letter of support for a library in College Hill from C. Blythe Andrews, 1988
It's never too late to get in contact with the library to schedule a time to record your library memories. Just call 813-273-3652 and ask for the Library History Archives and we'll be happy to make arrangements for you to help us document the history of our libraries.

Join us at our next roadshow stop:  SouthShore Regional Library, March 8th, 10 a.m. -1 p.m.!

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!

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.