If you haven’t been to the Clearwater Main Public Library lately, downtown at 100 N. Osceola Avenue, you owe yourself a treat. Not only does it house an amazing collection of books, movies, CDs, audiobooks, large-print books, comics and other materials for almost every interest, but also the views are spectacular.
You can find books topping the national best-seller lists, current hit movies plus all-time film favorites and music discs ranging from classical to country to jazz, blues, rock and opera to name just a few. But that is just a start.
The first floor features works of fiction, along with CDs, DVDs, comics, cafe, information desk and circulation area. The second floor is devoted to children, teens and young adults, featuring rows and rows of books, suggested reading lists, chess club, video games and much more.
The busy third floor includes magazines, newspapers and a seating area overlooking one of the best views of the Intracoastal Waterway, Clearwater Beach and the Gulf of Mexico.
Here, library staff can help patrons research almost any topic, for school, business or personal information. The large computer room is a popular place to tap into the vast resources of the Internet. For patrons with their own digital devices, wireless Internet access is available throughout the 90,000-square-foot building.
On the fourth floor is a Florida collection, important for learning about the development of modern Florida.
Conference rooms, various programs and events, computer classes, book clubs, story times, tutoring, homework help and a whole range of other services are part of the library experience.
The structure itself is something to behold, and it has just reached its 10th anniversary.
Built in 2004 on a bluff overlooking Coachman Park and Clearwater Harbor, the modern library includes huge open spaces, large two-story windows and a rolling roof and canopy that evoke the water in the distance. The current building replaced an original library built through a Carnegie grant in 1916.
The main library is open seven days a week: Monday - Thursday 10 a.m. - 7 p.m. and Friday - Sunday 12 - 5 p.m. Information also is available online at www.myclearwater.com/cpl.
If you can’t find what you want at the main library, chances are it may be at one of Clearwater’s four other branch libraries (Beach, Countryside, East and North Greenwood) or one of the 15 libraries in the Pinellas Public Library Cooperative from Tarpon Springs to St. Petersburg.
People interested in helping the Clearwater library system can volunteer their time, join the Friends of the Clearwater Library, shop at the Friends Book & Gift Store and donate to the Clearwater Library Foundation.
The Clearwater Main Public Library may not be as famous as the New York Public Library with imposing marble lions flanking its entrance doors. Nor does it have nearly as many volumes as the Library of Congress.
But the Clearwater library is impressive in its own right. It serves the community of Clearwater and Pinellas County as well as any in the nation.
Joseph Santangelo is a former reporter for the Bergen Record newspaper in New Jersey. He has written for magazines in Connecticut and Massachusetts and worked in business, government and community service. He writes from Clearwater.