Books usually illuminate the mind.
Now, the Lutz Branch Library, at 101 W. Lutz Lake Fern Road, is illuminating the books.
After undergoing a six-month, $790,000 renovation, the library has a fresh, bright new look — from more natural lighting, to new flooring, to new paint and walls, and even new furniture and installations.
“We redesigned it, per se, to be more user-friendly,” Hillsborough County Library Public Service Regional Manager Suzy George said.
“It’s more open, brighter and more welcoming, as much as we could possibly make it,” she said.
Renovations included removing high shelves that were not being used and were blocking the flow of natural light, through the library’s windows.
The additional light was an immediate plus.
There were a number of upgrades, too: Better furniture, new carpeting, vinyl floors and glass doors.
The library enclosed the children’s collection room. It’s now enclosed within glass walls, which reduces noise for other patrons, allows parents to see into the room, and gives children the freedom to have more interactive experiences.
“We wanted to give them the chance to create their own special space, as they now have more interactive toys and tools to use, and even a puppet theater,” George said.
“The new glass doors in the community rooms, the entrance and emergency doors — it all lets in so much more light and freshens up the library, as does a new coat of paint throughout the entire building.”
The library also added a self-checkout hub for drop-offs and pickups, near the front of the building.
“It’s a one-stop shop for all those in a hurry to get or return books,” George added.
Library service in Lutz began in 1961, when a bookmobile started making regular stops. By the late 1960s, the library guild of the Lutz-Land O’ Lakes Woman’s Club set up a temporary library. It held thousands of volumes on homemade bookcases, while volunteers kept the library open 20 hours a week.
It wasn’t until April of 1970 that the Lutz Branch Library opened at its present location. Back then, it was only 2,000 square feet, but was expanded to its current size, 7,000 square feet, with a complete renovation in 2004. In 2007, the front area was dedicated as the Helen Swisshelm Reading Room, in recognition of her longtime service to the Lutz Branch and the Hillsborough County Library System.
Swisshelm founded the Friends of the Lutz Library and was its president from 2000 to 2007. She served on the Tampa-Hillsborough County Library Board from 1990 to 2005 and as its chair from 1992 to 1993.
The library also brought some of the community’s history into a new installation. A glass case houses several documents and artifacts donated by Dr. Susan McManus, a Land O’ Lakes native with a long family history in the area. She also wrote “Going, Going…Almost Gone: Lutz-Land O’ Lakes Pioneers Share Their Precious Memories,” which tells of the early history of the community.
Patrons arriving at the library will encounter a building with a new look, but the same hospitable vibe.
“I think (Lutz Branch has) always been a comfortable, welcoming, neighborhood branch,” George said. “We wanted to take a fresh approach to it, maybe modernize it a bit. By just changing the shelving, it let in so much more light, with an easy solution. It helped enhance all the other upgrades we were making, and let them shine. Literally.”
Published May 04, 2022
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