By Brad Stager
As the population of Riverview grows, so does the need for the services provided by the community’s library, which opened its doors in November 1979. The increase in patronage over the years has been substantial enough to create the need for a new, larger, state-of-the-art library, which is nearing completion on Balm Riverview Rd., just north of the intersection with Boyette Rd. and Riverview High School.
The new Riverview library was anticipated to open this summer but completion has been delayed by disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Work on finishing the 35,000 sq. ft. facility continues, however, and according to David Wullschleger, who is the project manager, the much-anticipated opening will possibly occur in the fall, depending on how the pandemic affects completing the remaining tasks.
He said the library and the amenities it brings to the Riverview, Gibsonton and Apollo Beach residents it will serve are impressive.
“The building itself is a work of art,” said Wullschleger.
The library is designed in traditional Florida style with ceiling fans and a screened-in reading porch. A terrazzo floor features a design, titled ‘River of Fire,’ created by internationally known artist Barry Goodman, which depicts the Alafia River and the nearby area.
While the ambiance of the new library may harken to earlier times, there will be plenty of 21st century features available. Among them are audio and video recording studios (with green screen capability), computers, Wi-Fi access and plenty of power outlets for charging personal electronic devices and even electric cars. An area known as a makerspace will provide access to technology like 3D printers.
With more than four times the room of the existing 8,000 sq. ft. library, the new $12.6 million facility will have plenty of space for individuals and organizations who need a public meeting place. There will be eight conference rooms with capacities ranging from 4 to 150 people.
Books are the heart of a library and they will be available as well, with subjects ranging from fine literature to DIY manuals. The youngest readers will have a 5,000 sq. ft. children’s area in which to enjoy books and special activities geared toward them. There will also be a used book store operated by Friends of the Library.