of the Library group was formed
in 1954 by the American Association of University Women.
The Friends worked to
gain public support for a library. Established
by legislative action in May, 1955, the library was developed by citizens and
civic groups. The first Leon
County free public library opened its doors on March 21, 1956.
At the time, Tallahassee was the only state capital in the United States
not offering free public library service.
library's first librarian, M.G. Lamb, was appointed in September of 1955
and served until 1964. Leon County
hired the first library staff person in November of 1955, with the first
materials being received from the E.M. Hale, Co. and catalogued in that same
year. The library's first home opened in 5,000 square feet of
Columns, one of the oldest remaining antebellum homes in the Leon
County area. Library service
expanded to include a bookmobile donated by the
League of Tallahassee in March of 1956.
Visit the Bookmobile Calendar for details on locations and times.
The library quickly outgrew its first home.
In 1962 it moved to the old Elks Club building at 127 North Monroe
Street, more than doubling its space to 12,000 square feet.
From 1964 to 1966, Mary McLendon served as the acting director.
In May of 1966, John Pitzer was hired to the director's post and
served until 1967. Mary
McLendon served once again as acting director from 1967 to 1969.
In September of 1969, Verna Nistendirk was named as director and
served until 1973.
In October, 1970, Jefferson County became a part of what was to become the
Leon, Jefferson, and Wakulla County Public Library System when, in
October of 1971, Wakulla County joined. Leon
County provided administrative and other services to the two smaller counties,
each of which supported the costs of their library services and their share of
Leon's administrative costs. The System eventually reverted to a single county service
when Wakulla and Jefferson Counties left in 1975 and 1980 respectively.
Wakulla and Jefferson established their own libraries and Leon County
returned to the name Leon County Public Library.
In 1973, Paul Donovan was named as director and
served until 1978. A small branch in the Bond Community opened in September,
1975. This branch was located on
Pasco Street in the Smith Williams Service Center.
The main library moved again in May, 1978, to 44,000
square feet in the lower level of the Northwood Mall.
This space was offered to the library by Publix at a cost of $1
per square foot.
was named director in September of that same year and served until 1986. From
June of 1986 to July of 1987, Stanley Bustetter, served as the library's
In 1986, another group of dedicated citizen volunteers
decided that the time had come for the library to have a real home, a home
designed and built specifically to house the library. Project B.U.I.L.D. resulted in the ground breaking on
March 4, 1989, for a new $8.5 million facility with 88,000 square feet of space
next door to the library's original home, The Columns.
This facility was designed by Jim Roberson & Associates.
main library is located in the heart of downtown Tallahassee on West
Park Avenue. The new main library
building was opened in January, 1991. Watching
over the creation of a permanent home for the library was Sandra Wilson,
who served as director from 1988 to July of 1991. This fully automated library offered an abundance of new
services and quickly became a source of pride in the community.
Helen Moeller, was
appointed to lead the library in January of 1992.
The library has steadily grown, adding three storefront
branches to the system. The
Jackson Branch Library opened in August, 1991 at the corner of N.
Monroe Street and Fred George Rd., in the Huntington Oaks Shopping Center.
Similarly in August of 1994, the
Branch Library opened in the Northampton Shopping Center at the
corner of Thomasville Rd. and Kerry Forest Parkway.
In 1997 the
Branch Library, which had originally opened in a stationary bookmobile, was moved from the parking lot to a storefront in the Cross Creek
shopping center at the corner of Apalachee Parkway and Capital Circle SE.
September 17, 1993, the library was honored by a rededication as the LeRoy
Collins Leon County Public Library.
LeRoy Collins was one of Florida's best known and respected
governors and statesmen.
The Library has continued to grow both in size and
support from the
Commission and its citizens.
1997, the County Commission approved the purchase of two parcels
of land for the building of permanent branches. The
from its rented storefront and opened its new building in June, 2000 at 5513
Thomasville Road (just north of Kerry Forest Parkway). On February 13, 2004, the
County Board of County Commissioners dedicated this branch in honor of
former Leon County Commissioner Bruce J. Host in recognition and appreciation of
his tireless advocacy for the enhancement of the quality of life in Leon County.
Mr. Hostís steadfast support of the branch library system resulted in
the creation of Northeast Branch Library. The Bond Branch, renamed the Dr.
Perry, Jr. Branch (1997), opened its new building on South Adams
St. on July 21, 2001.
In 1999 and 2000, expansions nearly doubled the size of both the Parkway
Braden Branch opened in western Leon County on February 25, 2004.
Its unique design incorporates 2,200 square feet of a house into the
The 50th Anniversary Celebration in the Park occurred on March 11, 2006. Many people enjoyed the day with us and contributed memories from many years of using the Library.
Helen Moeller retired on April 30, 2010, after 18 years of leadership. The
American Library Association awarded her the Melvil Dewey Medal for
Distinguished Service in 1999 and she was the President of The Florida Library
Association in 1995.
Cay Hohmeister was appointed Director May 1, 2010. She has worked at
the Library in Extension and Public Services, and at the State Library of
In 2009-2010, as part of a local economic stimulus effort and to work
toward completing plans for expansion of the library system, the Leon County
Board of County Commissioners approved construction projects to expand two
of the branch libraries.
On November 11, 2010, the ribbon-cutting ceremony was held for a 3,000
square-foot expansion of the Dr. B. L. Perry, Jr., Branch Library [pictured
left]. Most of
the space is for 48 public-access computer stations, and there is a teen
reading area at one end and a newspaper and magazine area at the other. The
Northeast Branch building [pictured above] was expanded by
5,000 square feet, adding space
for separate areas for children, teens and adult non-fiction as well as
additional reading space and public-access computer stations. The
ribbon-cutting for this expansion was held on December 16, 2010.
The construction of two other branches was completed
in 2011. Woodville residents now enjoy a branch library. Contained
within a 2,000 square-foot addition to the Woodville Community Center,
the grand opening took place October 1, 2011. A new 12,000 square-foot Eastside Branch Library, located on Pedrick
Pond Park, replaced the Parkway Branch. The grand opening for this
Spanish-mission style building was held November 3, 2011.
Ground-breaking for the renovation of the Lake
Jackson Branch Library was held November 9, 2011. Renovation on a
specially designed 12,000 square-foot space for the branch library is
complete, and the previous library facility will become a newly
renovated Leon County Community Center. The entire Huntington Oaks has
been purchased by Leon County and the shopping center facade and the
parking lot will be renovated as part of this project. The grand
opening of the new Lake Jackson Branch Library was held on August 21,