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HiveBack in October, the Tampa Bay Times ran a story on the results of a consultant’s summary report of an evaluation of the John F. Germany Library in downtown Tampa. The John F. Germany Library is the main branch of the Tampa Hillsborough County Library System, and home to the Hive, Community Innovation Center, which we designed and which is having it’s grand opening today, November 15, from 1pm to 4pm.

The Times ran an Editorial response to the study,  called Downtown Tampa Needs a Better Library .  The Hive is never mentioned in the original study report because it did not yet exist and was only a grand idea last fall.

It does, however, exist now, brought to fruition through the energy and insight of dedicated members of the The Hivecommunity and energetic and professional library staff.   We shared our own thoughts about the study and the editorial in a Letter to the Editor that never made it to the Opinion pages of the Times. So we thought, to mark the Hive’s Grand Opening today, we’d share it here.

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RE: Downtown Tampa needs better library

It’s definitely time for a conversation about the John F. Germany Library. My husband ,Steve, and I led the design of the John F. Germany Public Library makerspace, now known as the Hive, located on the 3rd floor in the West building. Don’t know about the Hive? Hardly anyone does.

It’s 10,000 sq. ft. of precedent setting public creative space with a recording and media studio, Robotics Center, arts studio, hands on workshops, custom computer lab, 3D printers, interactive Media:scape, over 1500 sq. ft. of flexible meeting space, and an amazing staff of librarians who keep it humming. The Hive is a singular 21st century library space, only the second such library facility in the state of Florida, (the other is the Dorothy Lumley Melrose Center at the Orlando Public Library) one of the largest makerspaces around, and free and open to the public. The Hive’s grand opening is November 15th, during the Andrew Carnegie Birthday Party capping the library system’s Centennial Celebration that the John F. Germany Library is celebrating with a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) Fair, much of which is taking place in the Hive.

We participated in one of the focus group discussions during the review of the library last fall, to share the goals of the space, so it could be considered in the final evaluation about the library. The Hive doesn’t seem to have made it into those discussions. But it should definitely be part of future considerations. Currently, youth FIRST robotics teams meet at the center, along with the Tampa Bay Inventors Council, Code for Tampa Bay, ASCII Warriors (a coding club), and a few others. There are “Open Make” sessions on Mondays and a variety of classes and programs throughout the week on everything from 3D printing to working with Arduinos and more.

We completely agree that “the digital age has made libraries more — not less — relevant,” and that the library is a vital and irreplaceable place for gathering, learning and community involvement. We also agree that it’s uniquely positioned to serve the growing and increasingly vibrant downtown community.

The Hive sets John F. Germany Library well on the path to becoming that defining 21st century library that can truly be a magnet for growth and vitality, and provides an important pivot point from which future discussions for library development should turn.

We highly encourage the public to attend the November 15th Centennial Celebration event at John F. Germany Library and visit the Hive, and to become an active part of the conversation about the library’s future. Visit http://bit.ly/10vSxOd for event details.

Terri Willingham
EurekaFactory.net