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Farewell to 100 Clematis Street March 5, 2009

Posted by bookgoddess in Books, Librarians, Public libraries, Reading, West Palm Beach Public Library.
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Two weeks from today, the West Palm Beach Public Library building at 100 Clematis Street will close for the last time.  Sometime in April, a wonderful new West Palm Beach Public Library building will open at 411 Clematis Street.  

We are looking forward to having more space, more computers, and more resources with which to serve our citizens.  We are working long hours to ensure that the new library will be the best ever.  I cannot say enough good things about the inspired leadership of our Director, Chris Murray, and our Assistant Director, Lisa Webb, and I am sure you will be wonderfully impressed when we open. 

But before we turn off the lights and lock the door, let’s say a few kind words about the library building where I have spent most of my working life (and my entire professional career). 

Cast your mind back to 1962.  When the new building at 100 Clematis Street opened, it was a wonderful modern facility with an abstract frieze in luscious colors surrounding the top of the building.  Fountains flanked the entrance.  It was featured in several library publications and was a proud accomplishment for architect Norman Robson. 

At 100 Clematis Street, books were checked out by the thousands and eventually the hundreds of thousands.  Generations of children attended countless story times.  The reference librarians answered more questions than you can imagine on every conceivable topic. 

Sometime in the 1980’s, we began to use computers.  In the 1990’s, along came the Internet and it was not just a fad.  The library building was changing, too.  The frieze was removed as it was thought to be a safety issue during hurricanes.  The fountains were removed and a new façade was placed on the building.  

Ten years ago, under the visionary leadership of then Library Director Pam Sandlian Smith, we had a brilliant interior makeover by designer Peter Robinson.  It was one of those transitions that change everything.  We approached our work with a new energy.  Customers were delighted.  The library bloomed! 

We bloomed so much that the walls of this building could hardly contain us, and that ultimately led to the wonderful new facility at 411 Clematis.    

It will be a great day when we open, but I will certainly not leave the old building without a backward glance.  I know that the City of West Palm Beach is a finer community because of our Library.   I am a better human being for the years I have spent there, for the work I have done, for the staff and public I have encountered.  Many, many thanks to all of you! 


The Book Goddess


1. Jeanne Taylor - March 5, 2009

Thanks Tina …you have conjured up many fond memories!

2. Tim Van Hooser - March 5, 2009

This made me sigh. I have so many wonderful memories of people, events and of the structure itself at 100 Clematis Street. I treasure a 1960’s era post card that Pam Smith gave to me, showing the building in its original splendor. I have it framed and displayed prominently in my home. It makes me happy and a bit homesick every time I look at it. Best wishes for WPBPL in the new building. Long Live the Book Goddess!!!!

3. Candace - March 5, 2009

Thank you, Tina for the nice tribute.

4. Judy Hillberg - March 5, 2009

What a sweet remembrance-thanks, Tina!

5. Claudia - March 5, 2009

Our old library has certainly nurtured many of us, including myself. I thank you for making one last recount on how we’ve grown in this community and become part of a family. I will also look back and remember all the good times we had here. Thanks Tina!

6. Beth Benvenuti - March 5, 2009

Thanks Tina, I didn’t realize that you were moving. I can still remember the excitement in West Palm Beach when the new library was first opened ( I was a little girl) and can vaguely remember the old library but have so many wonderful memories growing up in that library and then bringing my children there as well.

7. Julie Sloane - March 8, 2009

Hi, Tina. You’ve written a lovely memoir of a large part of our city’s heart. My children grew up here and have always made the the WPB Public library part of their routine–still do.

I am very happy you will have more space and a modern facility but I will miss the old one. See you at 411. (Isn’t that the number for information? Is that a happy coincidence?)

bookgoddess - March 9, 2009

Well, being in the 400 block (and therefore having 411 available) was a happy coincidence, but the specific number was a special request of our far-seeing Director, Chris Murray!

8. Charity Hoke - April 7, 2009

I am a Library Science student at the State University of New York in Albany, and will be graduating in May. I am hoping to relocate to West Palm Beach and look forward to visiting the new library location next time I am in the area. It sounds wonderful and I love that the Director thought to get the 411 address!

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