SEMINOLE HEIGHTS — The new Seminole Heights Branch Library combines traditional styling with modern state-of-the-art equipment.
The $3.9 million library of bricks, tiles and stained glass also blends with the architectural style of the community and neighboring schools.
After two years of planning and a year in construction, the library opened mid-February, but grand opening celebrations are this month.
The two-story structure of 22,000 square feet has a first floor with six meeting rooms, restrooms and a combined used book store, operated by the Friends of the Seminole Heights Library, and snack room with vending machines. Proceeds from those will benefit the Friends support group.
The second floor contains the library’s books, videos, magazines and other materials. It replaces a 6,000-square-foot single-story facility that had been in use since 1965.
“It is really designed for use in the off hours with the access above the first floor blocked off then,” said Lauren Levy, of the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library system. “People are signing up in droves for community meeting rooms.”
Community involvement was an important part of the planning, Levy said.
“The Friends had a big part of how they wanted it to be.”
The library contains an Innovation Studio with movable furniture, computers, charging stations and a Media Scape, which can be connected to other electronic devices for teaching and training.
“Go ahead, move it around; we encourage that,” Levy said.
The Steven J. Gluckman Collection room is adorned with stained glass windows and named for the late community activist.
The children’s room does not use cartoon characters but relies on decorative silhouettes on the bookshelf ends.
Six full-time and two part-time staff members will work at the site, which will have many community programs including computer classes, story time, master gardener workshops and more.
“We know our community; we know they are excited,” Levy said.