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 as well as 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 as well as four libraries that closed many years ago, which includes the main library, 24 branch libraries, the Bookmobile, the Spanish Language Cybermobile, the Talking Book Library, and two city-operated libraries.

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.

One of the stops on the list is the long awaited Seffner-Mango Regional Library, one of the newest additions to the system which was built within the past five years.

“The opening of this facility allows us to offer dozens of programs we could not before due to the lack space,” said Jessica Rehbaum, senior librarian at the Seffner –Mango Branch Library.

The 15,000 sq. ft. library located at 419 N. Kingsway Road in Seffner opened in 2009 a year ahead of schedule and under the $6.4 million budget, on six acres of a 25-acre parcel of county property.

The new building replaced the 6,000 sq. ft., store-front facility at Mango Square, in Seffner, where the library was first established and remained for almost ten years.

To benefit all library goers, the new facility hosts 35,000 additional materials for a total collection of 75,000. Library lovers can also enjoy state-of-the-art amenities, such as a separate children’s department, a community room, study rooms, a computer lab, more public computers and a Friends of the Library bookstore.

The library also boasts a new science center, a 1,500 sq. ft. room equipped with computers along with materials that both adults and children can use as well as check out.

“We are very proud of this new addition and are confident that it will be utilized by many in the community,” Rehbaum said.

Rials said that the visit of both facilities fits quite well in the organization’s centennial project. With its goal of creating a digital library archive, staff and volunteers work onsite 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, and to see photos and videos of library memories and treasures, visit or call 273-3652.


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