Closed for more than a year already, Dade City’s Hugh Embry Branch Library, at 14215 Fourth St., has been hit by unexpected delays.
A tentative reopening date is unscheduled, according to Pasco County Library Cooperative officials.
The problem is supply chain issues, which has shown to be a huge factor with construction projects, both public and private.
“The Hugh Embry Library Renovation Project remains a top priority for Pasco County’s Facilities Management team. Libraries are an important part of our community, and the work being done at Hugh Embry will ensure the library is a vibrant, welcoming place for everyone,” Pasco County Library Cooperative said in a statement to The Laker/Lutz News.
“Unfortunately, key pieces of critical equipment are on backorder, and we’ve experienced several major construction delays due to supply chain issues. This situation is not unique to Pasco.”
Library officials wanted to address the community, as well, understanding citizens’ desire to return to the library and enjoy its services.
“While these delays are frustrating for our customers and team members,” the statement added, “please understand, we’re doing everything we can to expedite this work — and all work that can be done, has been done. Once the necessary supplies arrive, we anticipate finalizing the project in a matter of weeks.
“We apologize these ongoing delays are keeping you out of your local library. We’re working as hard as we can to open Hugh Embry Library’s doors as soon as possible.”
In early to mid-2021, Hugh Embry was cleared of its contents for the $2-million renovation to begin, with completion by mid-2022. The renovation is to include a complete overhaul and remodel of the branch, including new furnishings, lighting, computer, printers and even faster broadband.
It was the first time the branch received renovation work since 1991, when the library was expanded through a $10-million bond referendum passed by Pasco County voters in 1986 to improve public library services and build new parks countywide.
“It’s a top-to-bottom remodel. Floor-to-ceiling,” Bob Harrison, marketing program manager for the Pasco County Library Cooperative, told this publication in July 2021. “Everything is brand new. Literally, from the floor coverings to the wall, to the ceiling treatments.” Funding for the library renovation is coming from proceeds of general obligation bonds that were approved through a referendum in 2018, with a 66% approval rating from voters, Harrison added.
Hugh Embry is one of three Pasco County libraries currently closed for remodeling. The Land O’Lakes Branch Library, 2818 Collier Parkway, is in its final stages of renovation, but also does not have a reopening date.
Also under renovation is the South Holiday Branch Library, at 4649 Mile Stretch Drive.
Founded in 1904, the Hugh Embry Library is the oldest in Pasco County. Its namesake, the then 25-year-old Embry, had exhausted books he could borrow from friends. He raised $50 to start a library and called it the Shakespeare Club. He chose books and ran the library out of his family home until his death from tuberculosis in 1907.
The Pasco Library Association was established to manage the library, and aided by The Dade City Woman’s Club. In 1927, the woman’s club began loaning books to the general population for free, out of a room in the Herbert Massey Building. Within a month of its opening, the library had attracted 440 registered borrowers.
For years, the library was unincorporated, though it continued to grow. It wasn’t until 1952 that Dade City gave property across the street from City Hall for a library building, and in 1953, the City took over responsibility for the library.
It would take another 10 years before the library finally moved to its current location.
After the Pasco County Library Cooperative was founded in 1980, it began operating and maintaining the Hugh Embry Branch under a no-cost lease. In 1988, the City Commission of Dade City sold the library to Pasco County for $150,000.
Published October 19, 2022
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