By Tamas Mondovics
To celebrate a century-long history, Hillsborough County Public Library (HCPL) officials are asking area resident and library patrons to check their closets, attics and garages for photographs or memorabilia in connection with their neighborhood library. The effort is part of what organizers passionately and appropriately call, “The Centennial Project” ahead of the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Libraries 100th anniversary to be celebrated in 2014. “To prepare, we have partnered with the Tampa Bay History Center, the Friends of the Library of Tampa-Hillsborough County and other community partners and present the Library History Roadshow, as a way to collect pieces of our history,” said chief librarian Margaret Rials.
Rials explained that the project began last year with the Library History Roadshow, a traveling event that makes stops at library branches throughout Hillsborough County through 2013 to gather and document the communities’ library memories, photographs and memorabilia. “Our goal is to reach all 25 branches by January 2014,” Rials said
At each stop along the way, the Roadshow features the host library, the main library, 24 branch libraries, the Bookmobile, the Spanish language Cybermobile, the Talking Book Library, two city-operated libraries as well as four libraries that closed many years ago. A recent stop included the Brandon Regional Library, located at 619 Vonderburg Dr. in Brandon, and, as expected, allowed residents to take a trip down on memory lane.
Rials said that the Brandon Woman’s Club started library services for the community in 1960, housing 1,000 books in a corner of its club on N. Moon St. The Brandon Branch Library opened at 135 W. Robertson St. in 1968 and expanded in 1975. The community continued to grow, welcoming the 25,000-sq.-ft. Brandon Regional Library at its present location in March of 1991. Today, it is one of the original two regional libraries in the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library System.
So far, the Library History Roadshow has made more than a dozen stops to collect memories and historic treasures and will continue until all the branches are visited. With the goal of creating a digital library archive, staff and volunteers work on-site at each Library History Roadshow to digitally scan photos and other printed items that residents bring, which are immediately returned to their owners, while attendees delight in recording video and audio stories that share their historical knowledge and experiences. “This is a wonderful way to reinforce a sense of community,” Rials said. “Besides the photos and the memories, it opens a way for our residents to express what their library truly means to them.”
For more information about the Library History Roadshow, visit http://thplhistoryroadshow.blogspot.com or contact the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library System at 273-3652.