TAMPA — The library that serves Tampa's largest neighborhood will close on Halloween to make room for a replacement more than three times its size.
The nearly 50-year-old one-story Seminole Heights Branch Library at Central and Osborne avenues across from Memorial Middle School is being torn down and replaced by a $6.9 million, two-story building that is expected to open in winter 2013.
"I'm sorry to see it close," said Betty Crow, who has enjoyed the computer classes, including a Kindle training class the library puts on. She isn't sure where she will go in the meantime.
Library officials are directing users to four surrounding libraries including the North Tampa Library and downtown John F. Germany Library.
Built in 1965 for $69,000, the Seminole Heights library includes about 20 computer terminals that are routinely checked out, magazine racks, book stacks, a row of cubicles and little else crammed into a nearly 6,000-square-foot building that in comparison is about five times smaller than New York Yankees Derek Jeter's Davis Islands mansion.
The fire marshal's occupancy limit for the building is 88 people, all for a neighborhood that has grown to more than 15,800 people. In September, library officials said 11,257 users stopped in.
Two years ago, Hillsborough County purchased about a half-acre of adjoining property from the school district to help expand the new library's footprint, which will cover 1.2 acres. The new library will include a large subdividable community room, smaller meeting and study rooms, more public computers, a children's department, teen room and 56 parking spaces compared with the current nine. The library will feature Gothic-styled stained glass similar to nearby Hillsborough High School and a second-floor balcony that will resemble the front porches of Seminole Heights' historic bungalows. The building will sit closer to the street with wider sidewalks to better match the historic neighborhood.
"The architects got quite a lot of information from the residents and the community while they were designing it," said Suzy George, chief librarian.
A special collection room of books about the neighborhood will be named for Stephen Gluckman, a neighborhood preservationist, archeologist and University of South Florida professor who died in 2007.
The project is just part of $20 million in expansions or replacements of five county libraries including the Jimmie B. Keel, Bloomingdale, Robert W. Saunders Sr. and Upper Tampa Bay branches. None of those branches will be shut down during construction and users can expect little disruption, George said.
Justin George can be reached at email@example.com, (813) 226-3368 or on Twitter at @justingeorge.