Beach Library Returns to Its Roots
Beach Librarian Linda Hamrell welcomes guests to the opening, Monday, of the new Clearwater Beach Branch Library at the Recreation Center on Bay Esplanade. Beside her is a large poster honoring the volunteers who have helped keep the library open in its temporary quarters.
As an impressive number of residents gathered, Monday morning, at the grand opening of the new Clearwater Beach Branch Library, long time resident, Anne Garris, shared the history of the facility, calling it the "wandering library branch." She explained how, the Altrusa Club, a local women's service club, created the beginnings of a library at the Clearwater Beach Recreation Center in 1958. It was an informal affair, she said, with the Altrusans gathering books from friends and neighbors and providing the shelving materials to accommodate the books.
"It seems they used the honor system, and when the book supply got low, the Recreation Center would stage an event with a book as the admission price, said Garris."
She explained that the Beach Branch became a part of the Clearwater Library system when a Memorial Civic Center was built where the Roundabout is now located. The Civic Center included a large library space that provided excellent service to the residents and visitors of Clearwater Beach.
"When the Civic Center was torn down to make way for the Roundabout," she added, "city officials promised that a new library would be built on the island. And, out of consideration for the community's expressed needs, the library was temporarily housed in a rental location at the Pelican Walk Shopping Center. Later, because of budget crunches and increased rent, officials began talking of closing the library branch, but citizens stood in the hot sun to get signed petitions to keep it open and the decision was made to expand the Recreation Center to accommodate the library branch."
In order to keep the continuity of the library, it was housed in a trailer in the Recreation Center parking lot while the expansion was under construction. On Monday, July 21, 2008, the 47th anniversary of the opening of the Clearwater Beach Branch Library at the Memorial Civic Center was celebrated by opening the new facility at the Recreation Center.
Anne concluded her talk by thanking the city officials for understanding how important our library is to both our residents and our visitors.
"Remember, a library is like a good mind -- use it or lose it," she cautioned the audience in closing.
According to one city council member, the attendance at the Branch Library opening ceremony was larger than Sunday's grand opening of the Beach Walk on the South Beach.
Councilmember John Doran had the honor of checking out the first book at the new facility and guests enjoyed viewing the large assortment of books, DVDs, magazines and reference materials as well as the excellent waterfront view from large windows on the east. The new facility boasts four computers to be used, free, by patrons and the convenience of small meeting rooms shared with the Recreation Center.
The Friends of the Clearwater Beach Recreation Center and Library are already planning library and recreation programs for the new facility.
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