Alachua County Library District
The Alachua County Library District is an independent special taxing district and the sole provider of public library service to approximately 250,000 citizens of Alachua County, Florida. This includes all of the incorporated municipalities in the county. It maintains a Headquarters Library and four other branches in Gainesville. There are branch locations in seven of the eight other incorporated municipalities in the county. ACLD also operates a branch at the county jail, and two bookmobiles.
The Alachua County Library District has twelve locations. In Gainesville alone there are five locations, including the Headquarters Branch in downtown Gainesville, Millhopper Branch in northwest Gainesville, Tower Road Branch in unincorporated Alachua county southwest of Gainesville, Library Partnership Branch in northeast Gainesville, and Cone Park Branch in east Gainesville. The district also operates branches in the Alachua County municipalities of Alachua, Archer, Hawthorne, High Springs, Micanopy, Newberry, and Waldo, and a branch at the Alachua County Jail. The district operates two bookmobiles which visit more than 25 locations in the county from two to five times a month.
Hours of Operation
The Alachua County Library District traces its origins to 1905. It all started with a women’s group in Gainesville that organized a literary society called the Twentieth Century Club. The club issued a call for donated material and money, to help initiate the town’s first library. By 1905, Gainesville was populated with two libraries, however, they were subscription libraries and a small fee was required. In January 1905, Nora Norton established the Gainesville Circulating Library, held in the Gainesville Sewing Machine company and still required a small, five dollar a year fee. The Twentieth Century Club would also open a library in the Miller Law Exchange with assistance of 200 donated books and a yearly fee of two dollars.
In January 1906, the Gainesville Public Library on West Liberty opened with a collection of 800 books, combining the Twentieth Century Club’s materials, along with the library of the East Florida Seminary. Nora Norton’s 200 book collection was also purchased and donated to this newly formed library and thus, brought all the libraries together under one roof and created one large collection. However, a small fee was still required.
The Gainesville Public Library became a free library in 1918, supported by funds from city taxes, and in a building constructed with the aid of a Carnegie grant. The library became a department of the City of Gainesville in 1949. A branch of the Gainesville Public Library, the Carver Branch Library, was opened in 1953 to provide library services to the African-American population of Gainesville. The Carver Branch closed in 1969, after the main library had been desegregated. In 1958, the City of Gainesville and Alachua County agreed to jointly operate the library for the whole county.
Branch libraries were opened in High Springs, Hawthorne and Micanopy the next year, and a bookmobile was put into service. Alachua County joined with Bradford County to operate the Santa Fe Regional Library. After Bradford County withdrew from the Regional Library, the Alachua County Library District was formally established in 1986. The Millhopper and Tower Road branches opened in 1992, and the branches in Alachua, Archer, Newberry and Waldo were all opened by 1997. In 2008, the Alachua branch underwent a $1.5 million renovation and expansion project that saw the library's size double to 10,000 square feet and included the addition of a drive-up window and specialized areas for both young children and teenagers. The Library Partnership Branch opened in 2009 and the Cone Park Branch in 2011. A new, permanent location for the Cone Park Branch Library was opened near the Eastside Community Center in Gainesville on December 14, 2013. In 2015, Headquarters branch celebrated 25 years - with an estimated 3.8 million items checked out that year. In 2016, High Springs branch added 3,000 square feet to their original building. In January 2017, the Tower Road Branch library began undergoing renovations to add 8,500 square feet of space, which would include additions of a quiet reading room, three study rooms, new restrooms and an expanded children's area, among other features.
Library cards are free to any resident of the State of Florida and to non-residents who own property in Florida. Out of state residents may get a card by paying a fee. A potential user must register in person with proper identification and proof of residency or of ownership of property in the state. The registration of a minor requires the parent or legal guardian to have their own ID plus an acceptable form of ID for the child. Acceptable forms of identification for a minor include:
- Health insurance card
- School report card
- School immunization record
- Social Security card
- Birth certificate
Library card renewal is required every two years and must be done in person with a photo ID and proof of mailing address. A patron must have a $0 account balance in order to renew a card.
Checkouts and returns
Library card holders can checkout and return items at any branch located in Alachua County, including the two bookmobiles. Total checkout is limited to 100 items with a max of 8 DVDs per account. Books and audiobooks check out for 4 weeks, music CDs check out for 2 weeks, and DVDs check out for 1 week. Items may be renewed twice, as long as they are not on hold for another patron. Audiobooks, eBooks, music, TV shows and movies are available to library card holders as downloadable digital media from the ACLD website.
If a library card holder wishes to checkout an item that is not currently available, they may place a hold request on that item through the online catalog. By entering their library card number, a patron can then choose the branch they wish to have the item delivered to once it becomes available.
The Library District does not have late fees. However, five or more overdue items or $50.00 worth of overdue materials will block borrowing privileges until the items are returned or paid for. Additionally, any items returned by patrons with damaged or missing parts will result in a standard replacement charge for that individual.
Apart from library card privileges, the Alachua County Library District branches offer other services including meeting rooms, events for all ages, ebooks, audiobooks, computer access, Wi-Fi, printing, interlibrary loans, proctoring, and literacy tutoring for adults and ESOL learners. Additionally, multiple branch locations have served as polling locations during Alachua County elections.
The Library District is supported by the Friends of the Library (established in 1954) with a bi-annual book sale, usually in October and April. The Friends of the Library book sale is the largest of its kind in the state of Florida, with 500,000 books, magazines, videos, puzzles, games, and more available for sale. The book sale also has a Collector's Corner, which specializes in rare books, including first editions, signed copies, and Florida-related materials. The sale offers more than 64 categories of books, including general fiction, classics, cookbooks, children's and young adult fiction, and comic books. Proceeds from the sale fund different programs benefiting the Alachua County Library District. In 2015-2016, the book sale proceeds funded $150,000 in direct support to the library district for adult and children's programming, for purchasing library materials, and for other needs. The library also raised scholarship funds for library personnel to complete their Master of Library and Information Science degrees. The Friends of the Library also helped fund a variety of literacy projects, including the Family Literacy Festival, distribution of books for Head Start programs, and mini-grants for local literacy organizations.
- The Alachua County Library District was co-recipient of the Florida Library Association 2010 Library of the Year Award.
- The Library Partnership branch was selected for the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation Bright Ideas program in 2010.
- Sol Hirsch, Director of the district (2004-2011), received the 2011 Peggy Sullivan Award for Public Library Administrators Supporting Services to Children from the American Library Association.
- The district was one of five libraries and five museums to receive the 2011 National Medal for Museum and Library Service awarded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
- The Alachua County Library District received the Betty Davis Miller Youth Services - Children award at the Florida Library Association annual conference in 2016 for their Sensory Storytime program for children on the autism spectrum.
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