Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Clearwater Beach Library likely to remain a part-time proposition

The Clearwater Beach Library is located inside the Beach Recreation Complex and is open from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.

Clearwater Beach Library (2008)

The Clearwater Beach Library is located inside the Beach Recreation Complex and is open from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.

CLEARWATER — The city's Beach Branch Library is a short walk from the Gulf of Mexico, and its windows offer tantalizing views of the Intracoastal Waterway.

But if you want to spend time there reading, using a computer or enjoying the view, you have just four hours each weekday to do it.

That doesn't sit well with Shannon Rhodes.

"The hours stink," said the 40-year-old beach resident, who visits the tiny branch located inside the Beach Recreation Complex several times a week.

The library is only open from 1 to 5 p.m. weekdays. Rhodes uses the computer to look for a job and says longer hours would help her in her quest.

"Like normal business hours. And weekend hours would be nice," she said.

A group of beach residents has become increasingly organized and vocal in recent months, asking the city to at least restore hours cut several years ago during the recession. Before the fiscal hit, the library doors were open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with one evening having extended hours until 8 p.m.

The branch has never been open on the weekend, said Barbara Pickell, the city's library director.

Utilities and janitorial services aren't a problem, as the library shares space with the recreation complex. But the library department's budget, which has remained flat for the last three years, has no money to spare for the extra librarian needed to open the branch in the mornings.

"They want their morning hours back. The senior citizen community loves their morning hours," said Pickell.

That's unlikely to happen, said Mayor George Cretekos. The city is planning to use $1.4 million in reserve funds just to break even in its general fund for the coming fiscal year.

"It's difficult to try and expand services when you don't have enough money to pay for current services," Cretekos said. "I realize that they are very passionate, but as I've explained repeatedly, there are people in North Greenwood asking for same thing for their library or in Countryside or at the East Library."

The city estimates that it would cost $25,000 to extend the beach library's hours. That's an investment Clearwater is able to afford, said Wendy Hutkin, the Clearwater Beach Association's president.

"We can afford it. Our neighborhood and community really wants it," she said.

A new group, Friends of the Clearwater Beach Library, has formed to lobby for more hours, Hutkin said.

However, Pickell said her $6 million budget just doesn't have the wiggle room. As it is, a drop in county funding of $78,0000 means that fewer new books, DVDs, magazines and other materials will be ordered in the coming year. Donation funds will cover about $30,000 of the shortfall, but patrons will notice longer waits for new books and fewer volumes on the shelves, she said.

Charlie Frago can be reached at or (727) 445-4159. You can follow him on Twitter @CharlieFrago. To write a letter to the editor, visit or mail to 1130 Cleveland St., Suite 100A, Clearwater, FL 33755.

Clearwater Beach Library likely to remain a part-time proposition 07/23/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 23, 2013 5:46pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Shooting sends man to hospital in St. Pete


    ST. PETERSBURG — Police were investigating a shooting that occurred around 4:40 p.m. on Tuesday and sent a man to the hospital.

  2. Police: Man tries to lure child with puppy in Polk County


    Times staff

    HAINES CITY — A man was arrested Sunday after he tried to entice a young girl into his camper to view a puppy, according to police.

    Dale Collins, 63, faces a charge of luring or enticing a child under the age of 12. [Photo courtesy of the Polk County Sheriff's Office]
  3. Editorial: Coming together to reduce car thefts


    The simple, knee-jerk response to the juvenile car theft epidemic in Pinellas County would be to crack down on offenders with an increased police presence and stiffer sentences. Thankfully, local community leaders did not stop there. As detailed in a recent Tampa Bay Times follow-up to its 
As detailed in a recent Tampa Bay Times follow-up to its "Hot Wheels" investigation into youth car thefts, a variety of ideas from multiple directions increases the odds of actually solving the cause and not just treating the symptoms.

  4. Editorial: Floridians' health care now at risk in Washington


    The health care for millions of Floridians is now at risk. The U.S. Senate's dramatic vote Tuesday to begin debate on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act with no idea what will happen is a dangerous gamble with American lives and the national economy. Barring an unexpected bipartisan compromise, a handful of …

    Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., dramatically returned to the Senate for the first time since his brain cancer was diagnosed and cast the key vote that enabled Vice President Mike Pence to break the 50-50 tie and allow the health care debate to proceed.
  5. Former Marine from Florida dies fighting for Kurdish militia

    ORLANDO — A former Marine who secretly traveled to Syria earlier this year to battle the Islamic State was killed while fighting for a Kurdish militia, his father said Tuesday.

    David Taylor, with his father David Taylor Sr., was killed earlier this month in Syria while fighting for a Kurdish militia.