FOREST HILLS — Hillsborough County workers have broken ground and begun construction on a new library for north Tampa.
The center, at 8916 N Boulevard, will replace the original library built on that site in 1964.
"When you build something in the 1960s for the 21st century, you don't always take into consideration the changes in wiring, solar energy, installing WiFi, complying with the Americans With Disabilities Act," said Bernadette Storck, president of the Friends of the Library of Tampa-Hillsborough County.
Storck said planners had a tough decision: Should the old building be updated at a lower cost, or should a new one be built? "In the end we realized this building had to be completely gutted and torn down to build the kind of facility that the community needs," she said.
Funding for the new facility includes $801,000 from the county's community investment sales tax and $7.2-million from general revenues.
Jacquelyn Zebos, manager of administrative and reference services for the library, said a vocal constituency helped ensure that the project was funded even in these lean times.
"People want libraries in their neighborhoods, and they are not shy about organizing and communicating this desire to their elected officials," she said.
The new library will feature a children's department, teen room, tutoring rooms, a computer lab, and many more high-speed Internet-accessible computers. The library will be more than twice the size of the older one.
Those with physical disabilities will also find the new building far more accommodating, not only with ramps and customized restrooms, but also with chairs ergonomically designed for people with arthritis, meeting rooms configured with hearing devices, and large-print books.
Librarians will be able to send books so they can be translated into Braille.
During construction the library has housed its collection at the Thompson Center Waters on the northeast corner of Anderson Road and Waters Avenue. That's also a temporary site for Town 'N Country's Westgate Library, which is being rebuilt and renamed the Town 'N Country branch.
The north Tampa library, designed by Fleischman Garcia Architects, should be open in the fall of 2009. The Town 'N Country library will open in December.