Pensacola, Florida
Saturday October 25th 2014

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Putting the “P” Back in the Public Library

By Lewis Stockham

Our public library is an important part of our community. Renovations began on the Downtown Branch of the West Florida Public Library located at the corner of West Gregory and Spring streets back in January 2011. On April 2, 2012, this branch opened in half of its new building, while the old facility, which was constructed in 1957, was gutted and renovated.

Dondie Roper, who is in charge of Community Relations, sees the library as a vital part of our—or any—community. The Downtown Branch has more room (51,000 sq. ft.) thus more services to offer—more books, more meeting rooms and more computers.

“It means different things to different people,” said Roper. “It is all about more, which benefits the community,” said Roper.

The programs available to kids and adults will be expanded. Discover Earth, a hands-on science program for adults and kids, is scheduled to visit. As part of the Viva Florida 500 Celebration, the Read Pensacola History program is also coming. Plus, the Pensacola Jazz Society and Pensacola State College partnered with the Downtown Branch to hold a six-week video and lecture series on the history called “America’s Music.”

Half of the new building, which is the first L.E.E.D (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified green building built by the city, rests on the site of the first fire station in Pensacola.
Mike Lane, Circulation Supervisor, started coming to this branch because his father worked at that same fire station. His first job was as a volunteer here in the summer before the ninth grade. He grew up in the library and now is an integral part of its operation.

“We would go see my dad, then we’d go to the library,” Lane said. “What I love is it’s a chance to help build a community, bring people together, and people can get involved in their community.”
The public is invited to attend a grand reopening and firefighter memorial dedication ceremony for fallen firefighter Maurice M. Bartholemew at 10 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 11. A free family fun day is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 12 with dancing, storytelling, model making, and more.

“Every day presents an opportunity to help people and to make a difference,” said Darlene Howell, Library Director.

DOWNTOWN LIBRARY
WHAT: Grand Re-opening and Firefighter Memorial Dedication
WHEN: 10 a.m. Friday, Jan. 11

WHAT: Family Fun Day
WHEN: 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 12

WHERE: WFPL Main Library, 239 North Spring St.
COST: Free
DETAILS: 436-5060 or library.cityofpensacola.com