Largo Public Library

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Largo Public Library
Largo Library 2005.jpg
Location 120 Central Park Drive
Largo, Florida
Other information
Director Casey McPhee

The Largo Public Library is one of the most widely used public libraries in Pinellas County, Florida, United States. Located centrally in Largo, the library resides at 120 Central Park Drive. The library serves a community of over 75,000 residents.[1] The goal of the library is to serve the educational, cultural and social needs of the diverse community of Largo. Through the provision of innovative learning, courteous and responsive staff, and current services and resources, this goal is accomplished. The Library is open Monday-Wednesday from 9:00am–8:00pm, Thursday-Friday from 10:00am–6:00pm, Saturday from 10:00am–5:00pm, and closed Sundays.[2]


Beginnings of Largo, Florida[edit]

The city of Largo began as a grouping of loosely gathered communities of farmland around a large lake in the 1880s in the middle of what is today’s Pinellas County. Due to railroad expansion and a growing community of residents, Largo became an incorporated town in 1905.[3]

Origins of the library[edit]

In 1914, the Woman’s Club of Largo began to create a small library for the community of 350 residents. Efforts to begin the library started at the large Camphor Tree located at the center of downtown where residents left donations. Serving as a “Christmas Giving Tree”, residents left books, magazines, wood and other furnishings to help establish the first library of Largo.[4] These donations were placed in the first library facility located in a downstairs room of the original, wood frame Town Hall building with a total of 560 books which officially opened to the community on April 7, 1916.[5]

Due to the bustling population growth of the 1950s, Largo determined the need for a new library facility and town hall and began the project in 1960. December 15, 1961 the groundbreaking took place for the $36,000 new library and Ms. Helene Tilly served as the head librarian upon opening of the facility. By 1968, the current facility on West Bay Drive expanded and contained around 14,000 books. However, the city thereafter determined the need for a new, larger facility and in 1974 local businessman John Jenkins donated five acres of land for the new library. On May 15, 1977 the new $1,000,000 library opened under the direction of Barbara Murphey with 30,000 books present. In 1989 the facility expanded in size and totaled 250,000 volumes, serving an average of 1,500 visitors daily.[6]

The modern library[edit]

In the middle of the 1990s concerns arose on how to deal with the issue of an awkward parking lot entrance, but quickly morphed into the suggestion of a new library facility. After collecting funding from sales-tax through the “Penny for Pinellas” tax initiative, the new facility opened on July 31, 2005. Also to help clearly define the overall goal of the institution within the community the official name of the facility was changed to Largo Public Library. The 90,300 square foot library opened under the direction of Casey McPhee and more than doubled the size of the previous facility. Within the first year of opening the library hired 72 staff, had 200 volunteers, welcomed more than 558,000 visitors, circulated 683,000 items, had 28,000 workshop attendees, and answered 85,000 reference questions.[7]

Largo Public Library has a long history of “firsts” in technology; it was the first library in Pinellas County to use barcode (1994)[8] and then Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology to check in/out patron materials. When the current library opened in 2005, patrons were able use RFID technology at four self check out stations located on the first floor. This option is crucial to serving the huge influx of visitors that the library continues to assist each year. Starting in January 2008, library patrons had the added convenience of a full service Drive-Through window for returning materials, picking up hold requests and other library related transactions. The Drive-Through enables the library to serve a diverse group including the elderly, parents of young children and the mobility challenged.[9] In 2013 the library upgraded its RFID system to comply with current standards and also added an Automatic Materials Handler (AMH)YouTube,which checks in and sorts materials.[10] These additions have enabled Largo Public Library staff to re-focus on customer service and programming after budget cuts reduced staffing levels during the recession.[11]

Collection and services[edit]

The Largo Public Library offers a diverse collection of materials available for checkout including DVDs, CDs, books, audiobooks, e-books, and videos. Through collaboration with the Pinellas Public Library Cooperative, the library offers a variety of digital content for check out from an e-reader or computer device through Overdrive, Baker & Taylor's Axis 360 and 3M.

The physical library has computers for use, as well as study rooms, reference services, Children's Wing and the Teen Room. An ideaLAB with a 3D printer has been added as a place to develop creative ideas and explore new technology.[12] Specialized collections and resource centers are also available for patron use in the form of the Small Business Center, the Adult Reading Center, English Language Learning, e-Government collection, Genealogy collection and large print collection.[13] The library offers services beyond the physical library through the Library 24/7 link. This link is the gateway to a wide variety of e-content including books, music, magazines, streaming video and databases.[14]

Largo Public Library is designated as the center for genealogical research for the Pinellas Public Library Cooperative and partners with the Pinellas Genealogy Society to provide a permanent home for maps, magazines, journals, CD-ROMs, microfiche, microfilm, US Census records, numerous Pinellas County cemetery records and obituaries and over 10,000 genealogy related books. In addition patrons have access through the library catalog to many genealogical research databases. Members of PGS also provide one-on-one instruction, research help and a variety of classes and seminars to assist patrons with their genealogical research.[15]


  1. ^ “City of Largo, Florida”, n.d., accessed April 19, 2013
  2. ^ “About Us”, n.d., accessed April 19, 2013
  3. ^ “History of the Library”, 2012, accessed April 19, 2013
  4. ^ “History of the Library”, 2012, accessed April 19, 2013
  5. ^ Murphey, “Largo Library”, 1990
  6. ^ “History of the Library”, 2012, accessed April 19, 2013
  7. ^ “History of the Library”, 2012, accessed April 19, 2013
  8. ^ "St. Petersburg Times", May 31, 1994, accessed April 17, 2015
  9. ^ "St. Petersburg Times", November 23, 2008, accessed April 17, 2015
  10. ^ "St. Petersburg Times", February 13, 2013, accessed April 17, 2015
  11. ^ "St. Petersburg Times", July 10, 2007, accessed April 17, 2015
  12. ^ "ideaLAB", n.d., accessed March 4, 2015
  13. ^ “About Us”, n.d., accessed April 19, 2013
  14. ^ "Library 24/7", n.d., accessed March 4, 2015
  15. ^ "Genealogy", n.d., accessed April 17, 2015

External links[edit]