Alison J. Harris



Hillsborough County BOCC Meeting

Library Services is the county department that operates the Tampa-Hillsborough Public Library System, which is under the County Administrator Mike Merrill and the Board of County Commissioners of Hillsborough County. For the course Seminar in Public Libraries taught by Dr. Kathleen McCook, I attended the May 15th regular meeting of the Board of County Commissioners located on the 2nd floor of the County Center in downtown Tampa.

Key issues of the day included a mixed-use development project of Bloomingdale Avenue and Lithia Pinecrest Road and the selection of members for the Diversity Advisory Council. Both issues sparked passionate debates and both were items in which members of the public were directly involved. A group of people from the Bloomingdale area strong opposed the development project and each took turns to speak before the board. One member of the public felt he was unjustly removed from a list of applicants for the Diversity Advisory Council, because of his conservative viewpoints. Both issues were discussed between the members of the board without a clear resolution. The BOCC stated it did not have the legal authority to intervene in the Bloomingdale construction project. The discussion regarding the Diversity Advisory Council was tabled until further notice.

The meeting contained a mix of controversial issues along with honors given to outstanding groups in the community, from a local high school basketball team to emergency personnel. Many citizens waited to have a chance to present an issue before the board, but often there is not time for everyone to make a statement. Also, a few agenda items were delayed due to the length of time spent on others. The consent agenda did include items under Library Services such as a $1,100 donation from the Friends of the Library for a collection of bungalow books for the Seminole Heights Library, library renovation and construction projects, and appropriations for a new Integrated Library Computer System (ILS).  However, these agenda items were not raised for discussion in the meeting.

The Tampa-Hillsborough Public Library System is fortunate to have a special taxing district within property taxes in Hillsborough County. All the libraries in Hillsborough County, with the exception of Bruton Memorial, Temple Terrace and Sun City, came under the purview of the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners and a 12 member, appointed Library Advisory Board in 1984 under Chapter 84-443, Laws of Florida. This law supplanted an earlier Florida law and empowered the City to levy ad valorem taxes for its library. With the passage of State Statute 84-443, the special Library Taxing District was also established for the sole purpose of collecting and allocating funds for a county library system. This statute provides for the future inclusion of the Plant City and Temple Terrace libraries in the THPL system upon majority vote of their governing bodies. Because of this, Library Services does not have to compete with other county departments for funding. Whenever a Hillsborough County resident receives their property tax bill, library service is listed as a distinct line item separate from emergency services or the county school district.

June 3, 2013 , Comment

FLA Conference 2013

2013 FLA Scholarship Winners

I feel very fortunate to be one of the recipients of this year’s FLA Graduate Minority Scholarship! This was also my first FLA conference, so it was a really great experience.

I was only able to attend the conference for the first day, but I was still able to join a few of the programs happening throughout the day.

The first one I attended, “What Do Library Directors Really Expect from Applicants: An Open and Honest Discussion”, discussed what hiring managers are looking for in new graduates and experienced librarians. A few of the most important tips included creating an online presence through blogging or LinkedIn (or both) and participating in professional development opportunities.

Orange County Public Library System also did a program titled “FABulous Centers: Empowering Libraries to Get Innovative and Creative with Hi-Tech Technology”, which talked about the new makerspace in the Orlando Public Library. It was really interesting to learn their experiences while planning and developing Dorothy Lumley Melrose Center for Technology, Innovation & Creativity. Attendees were also able interact with STEM friendly electronics, like Snap Circuits and K’NEX, which were incorporated into the space and a MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printed a small pyramid during the presentation.

It must have been a dream using the great grant to build the space. I can’t wait to see the finished product!

May 3, 2013 , , , Comment