By Tamas Mondovics

To celebrate a century-long history, Hillsborough County Public Library (HCPL) officials are asking area residents 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 are calling “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 and four libraries that closed many years ago,.

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.

For the SouthShore communities, library officials are planning on making two stops at the Riverview Branch and the SouthShore Branch.

The much older and smaller of the two is the 8,000-sq.-ft. Riverview Branch Library that opened in November of 1979.

Located at 10509 Riverview Dr. on a wooded site just west of U.S. Hwy. 301, the branch offers friendly, accessible service to the neighborhood housing more than 70,000 items. The growth of the community over the past three decades prompted a number of necessary updates and upgrades, including a parking lot expansion in 2008 that more than doubled the number of spaces available.

Parking is not a problem at the Roadshow’s second upcoming stop in the SouthShore community as it pays a visit to the 40,000-sq.-ft. SouthShore Regional Library, which may not boast of a rich history, but makes up for it with a number of amenities due to its size and location.

Opened in October of 2006, the facility boasts of 49 public Internet access computers and wireless Internet service available throughout the library.

As the 25th and largest library branch in Hillsborough County, the SouthShore Regional Library serves a growing and diverse population and was completed at a cost of $10,138,000, with the aid of a $500,000 State of Florida Department of State, Division of Library and Information Services Public Library construction grant.

The John Crawford Art Education Studio, featuring the works of former librarian and watercolor artist John Crawford, offers free art instruction and appreciation activities for all ages.

Rials said that the visit to both facilities fits quite well in the organization’s centennial project with its 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 the originals to their owners, while attendees record video and audio stories that share their historical knowledge and experiences.

For more information about the Library History Roadshow and to see photos and videos of library memories and treasures, visit or contact the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library System at 273-3652.


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