By Kathy Collins

The SouthShore Regional Library in Ruskin offers the public including clubs, schools, art programs and organizations a unique opportunity to exhibit their artwork in the Community Gallery located in the center of the library. According to Laurie Burhop, art coordinator for the SouthShore Regional Library, “We have the space to give art groups and schools the opportunity to showcase their work and gain experience in producing a display. Many people have not had the opportunity to visit an art museum or gallery, so the community space and our art gallery space, gives them the chance to see what it would be like to go to an art show or a museum.”

The Community Gallery is not a juried space. So long as the exhibitor is a local group, and there is an adult 18 years and older in charge, the space is available on a first come basis. All you have to do is email Burhop at or call 273-3652, and inquire about availability. In fact, if there is an interested group for the month of August, simply contact Burhop by Monday, July 25, and this space could be yours.

Burhop explained that the art work must be capable of hanging on carpeted panels. Basically, the space works for two dimensional media. Since this is in a public library, no nudes or controversial subject matter is allowed.

The SouthShore Regional Library is the only library in the system that has an art coordinator. When the library was being planned, John and Elizabeth Crawford left an endowment to have an art studio and galleries in the library so that all people could experience an art class or an art exhibit at no cost. In addition, a grant from the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay allows the library to offer art classes for free.

“Our galleries are very well received. The feedback we get from our patrons is so positive and appreciative. It certainly is doing what it was intended to do,” said Burhop.

The SouthShore Regional Library is located at 15816 Beth Shields Way in Ruskin.

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