It offers new technology and an airy look
Some boxes are still unpacked.
A few books are being catalogued before getting stacked on shelves.
An item or two, such as window blinds, are on order.
Outside, workmen are getting ready to pave a parking lot.
Not everything is completely done yet, but the new Zephyrhills Public Library is open for business and humming with activity – in hushed tones, of course.
One recent morning a steady stream of people walked through the front door. One inquired about a book request. Others logged onto computers. Some just wanted a quiet reading nook.
So far, the library has proved quite popular.
“We are getting very heavy traffic,” said Vicki Elkins, director of library and museum services. “We have people coming in that we’ve never seen at the old library.”
The new structure replaces a building that was partially constructed in 1964 and partly built in 1981.
That building was torn down to make way for this new one.
The paved parking lot, when completed, will have a drive-through book drop-off.
Although the library opened on Dec. 30, a grand opening has not yet been scheduled.
“I refer to it as a great Christmas gift,” Elkins said. “We can offer so much more now than we could in the old library.”
At nearly 8,500 square feet, the new library, at 5347 Eighth St., is more than double the size of its predecessor.
Its amenities include a meeting room with a galley, separate teen and children’s rooms, and two study rooms.
The library also will soon have Wi-Fi.
Patrons also will find 16 computers there — twice as many as there were in the old library.
And, they can use their library cards to book computer time. This is especially helpful when the computers are all in use, Elkins said.
When patrons want to print materials, they can preview their order and its cost.
The library’s youngest patrons will find three computers set aside for them in the children’s room.
New books targeted at young readers will be added to the teen room.
Another plus: A local resident donated about 300 books, mostly classics.
In the past, the library had its summer reading program at Alice Hall Community Center. Now it can be in the new children’s room and in the adjoining meeting room.
There also is potential for additional programs, Elkins said.
Nonprofit and community groups have already found out about the meeting room and have begun signing up for it, Elkins said.
The vision for the new library emerged nearly 10 years ago, and the city began setting aside countywide tax revenues from the Penny for Pasco program.
In 2008, the country’s economic downturn prompted a rearrangement of priorities.
“It was put on the back burner,” Elkins said.
As the economy brightened in recent years, some thought was given to renovating the existing library but Elkins said, “It was not in good shape for a remodeling.”
A combination of Penny for Pasco revenues and private donations paid for the $2.2 million construction costs.
The plain façade of the old library seemed out of tune with the historic look of downtown Zephyrhills, so Elkins said architects at Harvard Jolly were asked to review photos of the old City Hall, high school and train station.
The result was a red brick building with a classic look.
Kathleen Munn recently brought her daughter Charlie Hernandez for a first tour of Zephyrhills’ new library. Mother and daughter were going to report back to 10-year-old Lilly Hernandez, Munn’s granddaughter and Hernandez’ daughter.
As a youngster, Charlie Hernandez would check out more than a dozen books a week to take home.
No one loves books more, Munn said.
But she said that old library, even for a book lover, was “old, dark and dank.”
Now Munn can’t wait to return with her granddaughter to the new library.
“This is big and fresh and adds a bit of class to Zephyrhills,” Munn said. “It feels like a Barnes & Noble to me. It’s light and bright and airy.”
Published February 4, 2015