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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

'The library guy' takes a Capitol victory lap



(Paul Clark, a systems librarian for the Wilderness Coast Public Library, holds a sign outside of the Florida Senate. Clark is known as "The Library Guy" in the Capitol. Photo by Scott Keeler, Times)

The man they call "the library guy," Paul Clark, returned to the Capitol Tuesday carrying a simple, happy message: "Thank you."

The 39-year-old father of three put a human face on the 2010 legislative session through his sheer tenacity. Day after day, Clark stood silently in the Capitol pleading for lawmakers to find $21 million to maintain the level of state support for public libraries.

When lawmakers came through near midnight Monday, Senate budget chief JD Alexander made a passing reference to "that guy" who persisted in getting library money. Clark, who earns about $45,000 a year, had forfeited most of his vacation time to push for funding -- including putting in a 12-hour day on Sunday in the Knott Building, where budget negotiations took place.

"I was ecstatic," Clark said when he heard the news early Tuesday. "I pretty much used all my vacation time. Tell my wife, 'Sorry.' But I felt like this was an appropriate use of my vacation time."


[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 11:31am]


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