SEFFNER — Seffner residents now have a library they can be proud of. About 20 people waited outside on Dec. 29 as the new Seffner-Mango Branch library opened its doors. The library still evokes that new-car smell, but residents seem to have settled into a routine with the most thorough library upgrade the area has ever seen.
The Seffner-Mango library moved from its previous location of 10 years in a shopping center next to Wal-Mart. The new building on North Kingsway Road is more than twice the size, and comes weeks after the opening of a new Town 'N Country Regional Public Library.
The new library is oriented at least as much for children and teenagers as for adults. A spacious children's room displays illustrated hardcovers on top of each row so kids won't have to wonder what's inside the shelves. They come with titles like How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food? ("He tries every new thing, at least one small bite. He makes no loud noises — that isn't polite.")
The children's room comes with couches and low tables and offers five additional computers.
"Kids are coming at story times, they're filling up the computers," said senior librarian Jessica Rehbaum. "They're starting to do their homework after school."
A new "Realia" science room comes with microscopes and hands-on anatomical exhibits including eyeballs, viruses and tapeworms. You can check them out just like a library book.
The main reading room offers comfortable chairs and plenty of tables. Sixteen new computers are available.
A trip through the stacks turns up tried and true popular authors such as Tom Clancy, Danielle Steele and Stephen King. There's a career section, a cooking section and a Spanish-language row filled with materials for learning English.
Both adults and children can find a generous supply of CDs and DVDs. The nonfiction stacks pack titles in history, biography and pop culture.
Library and transit officials discussed the possibility of bus service to the new library to no avail. "We have looked at it on several occasions," said Ed Crawford, chief of government affairs for the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority, speaking to Brandon-area business people on Monday. "Operationally, we don't think that's a good decision to make."
County officials will soon ponder another question: What, if anything, should they do with the library's ample back yard, which is big enough for swing sets, slides and more if the county decides to make it a park.
A meeting to discuss the possible uses for the outside space takes place at the library at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 17.
Wanda Bell, 79, made her first trip from Dover on Tuesday. She hunched over a crossword puzzle, a thick library dictionary at her side. It's the only reason she goes to the library.
"Who is 'baseball's Slaughter'?" she asked. Someone suggested a name from the 1950s New York Yankees.
"E-n-o-s," Bell said with a smile, lowering her pen to the puzzle boxes. "That works."
Staff writer Doug Bennett contributed to this report. Andrew Meacham can be reached at (813) 661-2431 or firstname.lastname@example.org.