The Seminole Community Library has progressed immensely since its founding in 1960. As with many public libraries, it began as a civic project of interested and dedicated community leaders and has grown into a strongly supported cultural showcase in the greater Seminole area.
The library was established with about 3,500 books on July 12, 1960, by the Seminole Ridge Business and Professional Women’s Club and was first housed in a small cottage provided by the Seminole Branch of Home Federal Savings and Loan of St. Petersburg. The “cottage library” was staffed by club members and located on Lake Drive behind the Savings and Loan office near the corner of Seminole Boulevard and Park Boulevard. Lots of hard work and devoted volunteer service to the new library earned the club first prize in the St. Petersburg Times’ Women’s Club of the Year contest.
Rapid growth in the following years made it necessary for the library to have a separate operating organization as well as a larger building. In June 1964, with the collection having grown to some 6,000 volumes, the Women’s Club turned over operation of the library to a newly formed Friends of the Library group which later developed into the state-chartered Seminole Ridge Library Association. The following year Home Federal Savings and Loan again came to the rescue and offered additional space in a newly acquired motor court, also on Lake Drive, near the “cottage library.” On November 10, 1965, library service began in the new facilities. Under the capable leadership of library volunteers and supporters, including numerous civic groups and local businesses, the library thrived.
By 1969 the collection had increased to about 10,000 volumes and shelf space again grew tight. The widening of Seminole Boulevard (U.S. Alternate 19) also required vacating the building on relatively short notice. These two developments triggered another phase of growth for the Seminole Library.
The greater Seminole community joined in a far-reaching civic and cultural project that included donation of land for a new library facility; architectural plans for a building with a capacity of 50,000 volumes and construction supervision, provided gratis; a petition drive that persuaded the Pinellas County Commission to part with $25,000 from a library tax fund that had never been implemented; and $15,000 in cash donations from civic organizations, businesses, individuals, and families.
In September 1970, a formal groundbreaking ceremony for the new library building was held with local dignitaries and many citizens attending. The new library, located at 11000 Johnson Boulevard., opened for service on February 15, 1971, with 2,400 square feet, a collection of 15,000 volumes, and new furniture donated by the Pinellas-Seminole Woman’s Club. The design and furnishings were intended to give the new library a warm, informal atmosphere and its popularity in the years following demonstrated its inviting presence in the community.
In 1974, with a collection of about 19,000 volumes, a $10,000 addition was completed and served as a reading and reference room. In the spring of 1984, extensive remodeling was done to enclose the children’s area and provide additional shelving for children’s books and audiotapes. The following years saw expansion of the large print collection, the start of audio book and video collections, and the addition of a financial news section.
In 1989, after years of negotiations, the City of Seminole assumed responsibility for the library. The Seminole Library Association was dissolved and all assets turned over to the City. A five-member Library Board was appointed and charged with the writing of a $400,000 State Grant application for a new library building. The grant was approved, consultants, architects, and contractors hired, and construction began on a new facility in November 1991. It was also during this productive and busy period that the library became a member of the newly formed Pinellas Public Library Cooperative (PPLC) and the Tampa Bay Library Consortium (TBLC). The new Seminole Community Library opened to the public on August 3, 1992. The library’s 17,000 square feet included three spacious meeting rooms. Staffing and operating hours increased, the number of cardholders mushroomed, the collection grew to more than 60,000 items, and public Internet access was introduced. The library thrived in this facility as never before.
Soon after the opening of the Seminole Campus of St. Petersburg College, the City of Seminole and the College began discussions on how both entities might work cooperatively together in providing selected services to the community. One such service was the community library. After lengthy dialogue, study, and public debate, the City of Seminole and St. Petersburg College entered into a formal agreement in October 2000 for the design, construction, and operation of a joint use library for the mutual benefit of the general public and the students and faculty. This joint project located on the SPC Seminole Campus at 9200 113th Street North, opened August 10, 2003, and is both a public library and a college library in one integrated facility, drawing award-winning attention for its innovative merging of both high-end technology and digital information with traditional library collections and services.
In August 2008, the library, along with the other members of the Pinellas Public Library Cooperative, joined in the formation of the Pinellas Automated Library System (PALS) – a searchable, countywide database or electronic catalog of the holdings of all the Pinellas public libraries. This significant technological development streamlined even further the sharing of local library resources in service to library patrons. With its resources-sharing access to Pinellas public libraries, SPC libraries, and community college libraries throughout Florida, the library serves community users, students, and faculty seamlessly.
Enjoying strong support from St. Petersburg College and the City of Seminole, the library’s capable staff work alongside a corps of dedicated Volunteers, active Friends of the Library organization, Library Advisory Board, and Library Youth Advisory Board. All of them providing direct community and campus involvement. The Seminole Community Library at St. Petersburg College, Seminole Campus, continues to develop its collection, resources, programs, and services – remembering the past, serving the present, and planning for the future.