The Friends were featured in the “Goodness InDeed” section of the Northeast Journal July edition. If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out, it can be found locally at places like Kahwa, Publix, and other NE haunts. Below is the text from the story.
“Located on the Pinellas Peninsula, on the central west coast of Florida bordered by Tampa Bay, the pioneer city of St. Petersburg was incorporated as a town in 1892, and later as a city in 1903. Sitting on the western edge of downtown St. Petersburg is Mirror Lake and an area that became the city’s first cultural hub, with the eventual development of the nearby Shuffleboard Courts, the Lawn Bowling Club, the Chess Club, and the Coliseum, all occurring with walking distance to the library. In 1913, a five-year pursuit by city Council members and concerned citizens culminated in a $17,500 grant by the Carnegie Corporation, matched 100% by the city through the generosity of several key citizens, for a total amount equivalent to $700,00 in today’s dollars, to build the city’s first library. Finally built in 1915 on the banks of Mirror Lake, the original St. Petersburg Library is significant to the city’s cultural history as the first permanent home of its public library system, and embodies St. Petersburg’s transformation from a pioneer village into a city with viable cultural institutions. (Bob Jefferies, City of St. Petersburg, 2001) It also remains important to the history and legacy of Mr. Andrew Carnegie, remaining out of an original ten Carnegie libraries built across Florida as one of only two still being used as a free public library.
Upon construction of a bigger and contemporary Main Library in 1963, the original Friends of the St. Petersburg Library relocated to Main Library. Over the years, as the St. Petersburg Public Library System saw its stature grow, the community’s needs demanded more attention at the Mirror Lake Library and all the branch libraries throughout the system. In 1995, the original Carnegie Library nestled beside Mirror Lake received a renovation and was enlarged to a 3-story facility offering 13,722 square feet of collections, services, and programming space, as well as office space for system-wide library administration. The city’s other libraries also have received renovations or newly constructed facilities during that timeframe. Additionally, these library branches began forming new Friends groups dedicated to their local branch library’s needs. Although managed through the years by a dedicated library staff, St. Petersburg’s first library was left in need of, and attention by, committed and engaged patrons. And, although it has seen its share of mindful and generous benefactors through the years, it wasn’t until July 2011, 48 years since the inception of the Main Library as the central, largest library in St. Petersburg, that a new Friends of Mirror Lake Library was formed. A small group of committed, caring patrons who share a common interest in supporting the library through volunteerism, fundraising, and sponsorship of library programs and services, through our active participation, the Friends also assists in preserving the history and legacy of a superior, free public library accessible by all, in large part because of the gracious benefactors Andrew Carnegie and the Carnegie Corporation, as well as the city of St. Petersburg.
Since its inception just 11 months ago, the Friends have grown into a strong 33 member group and have established its operational framework by implementing by-laws, creating a board and electing officers, and establishing regular board meetings. The current board consists of President Wayne Finley, Vice President Wendy Bennett, Treasurer Jaime Abbess, and Secretary Linda Sagese. Through successful marketing campaigns, such as a now highly sought after postcard, an active Facebook page with growing “likes,” and an excellent freely hosted website, the group has also hosted two major literary events. In September 2011, St. Petersburg’s first Poet Laureate Dr. Peter Meinke entertained over 40 guests with his poems, stories and anecdotes about life and raising his children in St. Petersburg, even about bringing them to the Mirror Lake Library, and in March 2012 the Friends hosted an evening with writer Terry Tomalin, Tampa Bay Times Outdoors/Fitness Editor, who captivated almost 50 guests with a slide show and discussion of his very interesting life adventures. Add in a day spent at the Saturday Morning Market, a very successful book sale in June 2012, and underwriting the 2012 summer Florida Library Youth Program, themed “Dream Big, Read!”, we are off to an enthusiastic start both in membership, fundraising, and providing literary and educational programs for the library and community at large. One of the next major events to watch for is a Plein Air Mirror Lake Library “Paint-Out,” a juried one-day event that will have local artists producing art of the historic building that can then be utilized by the Friends to increase interest in and support of the library. As well, in October we are hosting our next literary event, an evening with Sarasota author Anita Bartholomew discussing her new book The Midget’s House. Ms. Bartholomew is a a freelance book doctor and ghostwriter, Reader’s Digest contributing editor from 2001-2008, and co-author of Something To Prove (Kaplan 2010), which won the Grand Prize at the 2011 New York Literary Festival.
The Friends of Mirror Lake Library meets the first Wednesday of each month at 6 p.m. in the Community Room of the library at 280 5th Street North next to Sunshine Senior Center. We encourage anyone with a love for libraries to consider us their “home” library and join our group. Your membership helps us attain our fundraising goals that allow us to provide the library with new programming while helping us fill it with the patrons it deserves as the original library of St. Petersburg. You can also reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and “like” us on Facebook at Friends of Mirror Lake Library. Lastly, bookmark us at our new website: https://friendsofmirrorlakelibrary.wordpress.com/.