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History

1885

Subscription-based library established by the Pensacola Library Association. The 184 members paid 25 cents per month to use the library.

1885

1904-1910

Attempts are made to secure Carnegie funds for a public library.

1904-1910

1911-1919

The city of Pensacola fails to provide a site for a public library and denies future support. Funds are not obtained. The city later allots $25 per month and then $50 per month toward the library.

1911-1919

1933

Subscription library closes and its books are stored in the San Carlos Hotel.

1933

Feb. 1937

Pensacola City Council passes an ordinance to establish a free public library and creates a five-member board.

Feb. 1937

Jan. 1938

Lucia Tryon is hired by the city of Pensacola as head librarian and tasked with organizing and opening a public library.

Jan. 1938

Feb. 15, 1938

Pensacola Free Public Library opens in Old Christ Church with 3,352 books, including those from the old subscription library and $100 worth of new books.

Feb. 15, 1938

March 1, 1938

Pensacola Free Public Library has 2,375 cardholders.

March 1, 1938

1938

The Shakespeare Club opens a library on Oak Street in Milton.

1938

Aug. 17, 1952

Alice S. Williams Branch Library opens to serve the black community.

Aug. 17, 1952

1957

Pensacola Public Library is opened at Spring and Gregory streets.

1957

1963

Santa Rosa County enters into an inter-local agreement with the city of Pensacola, starting the West Florida Regional Library System. Milton Branch Library is acquired and bookmobile service in Pensacola and Santa Rosa begins.

1963

December 1964

Pensacola City Council votes to extend library service to the rest of Escambia County through an inter-local agreement with Escambia County. The city of Pensacola approves an addition to Pensacola Public Library.

December 1964

April 1965

Bookmobile service extends to Escambia County.

April 1966

April 1967

Pensacola Public Library addition is completed.

April 1967

1971

Santa Rosa County opens a branch in Gulf Breeze.

1971

1972

An outreach van begins serving low-income areas.

1972

1973

Friends of the Pensacola Public Library is established.

1973

1974

The Summers Report presents a study of the West Florida Regional System recommending the immediate establishment of a branch in northeast Pensacola. The report also recommends an expansion or replacement of the Pensacola Public Library by 1985.

1974

1975

Jay Branch Library opens in rented quarters. Milton Branch Library moves to a new building on Alabama Street, serving 12,164 cardholders.
Belvedere Branch Library opens at North Ninth Avenue at Creighton Road. A new building for Gulf Breeze Branch Library is completed.

1975

1976

Alice S. Williams Branch Library closes and merges with Pensacola Public Library. Jay Branch Library moves into the new Jay Civic Center building.

1976

1979

A new bookmobile for Santa Rosa County is housed in Milton.

1979

1981

Bookmobile service is discontinued in Santa Rosa County.

1981

1983

Belvedere Branch Library moves to Bayou Boulevard and is renamed Northeast Branch Library.

1983

1989-1990

A study by HBW Associates Inc., library planners and consultants, finds the West Florida Regional Library System to be well behind libraries in comparable communities in terms of facilities, collections, staffing and funding. HBW concludes the library system is only able to provide “the extreme basics” of library service. The study recommends immediate automation, building a new main library by 1995, adding branches and increasing library funding from $5 to $20 per capita by 2000.

1989-1990

1990

Northeast Branch Library is renamed Lucia M. Tryon Branch Library and moves to North Ninth Avenue and College Boulevard.

1990

1990-1991

Escambia County budget cuts force the Pensacola Public Library and Tryon Branch Library to close on Sundays and Mondays and drastically reduce book purchases.

1990-1991

1993

Automated circulation and a computerized catalog system are inaugurated. Navarre Branch Library, begun as an all-volunteer operation by the Friends of the Navarre Library, joins the West Florida Regional Library System.

1993

1994

Funds are secured to build an addition to Gulf Breeze Branch Library. Funding includes a state grant, a one-time municipal service taxing unit, or MSTU, and private contributions gathered by the Friends of the Gulf Breeze Library.

1994

1997

Public internet access is provided at all locations through a state library grant.

1997

June 1998

Southwest Branch Library opens at 12385 Sorrento Road, Suite A.

1998

1999

West Florida Regional Library becomes a department of the city of Pensacola.

1999

2003

The West Florida Regional Library System implements iBistro, an online catalog system.

2003

November 8, 2004

Southwest Branch Library re-opens after relocating to 12248 Gulf Beach Highway.

November 8, 2004

2006

Milton, Jay, Gulf Breeze and Navarre Branch Libraries break off from the West Florida Regional Library System to form the Santa Rosa County Library System. Pensacola Public Library, Tryon Branch Library and Southwest Branch Library now make up what is renamed the West Florida Public Library System.

2006

April 2007

Century Branch Library opens in the old Escambia County Sheriff’s Substation building.

April 2007

April 23, 2007

Westside Branch Library opens in Brownsville at 1580 W. Cervantes Street.

April 23, 2007

2009

Lucia M. Tryon Branch Library moves to a new building on Langley Avenue.

2009

2010

Genealogy Branch Library opens in the former Tryon Branch Library location at North Ninth Avenue and College Boulevard. This library houses collections on genealogy and local history. Patrons can access books and databases for the entire country with an emphasis on the southeastern states. The West Florida Genealogical Society meets here and works closely with the library.

2010

2011

Groundbreaking for the construction and renovation of Pensacola Public Library begins. The current 27,500 square foot library will stay open while the old city fire station next to the library is demolished and a 16,000 square foot addition is constructed. Once the addition is completed, library materials will be moved to the new building, where operations will continue and the older building will be renovated. The two buildings will be connected by a mostly glass, two-story lobby area. The project is scheduled to be completed in late 2012.

2011

November 14, 2011

Escambia County hosted groundbreaking ceremony for the new Molino Community Center on Monday, November 14 2011, at 11:30 a.m., at the center site, 6450 Highway 95-A North in Molino. This project included conversion of the old Molino School into a 15,600 square foot library, community center, and museum.

November 14, 2011

October 17, 2012

Escambia County celebrated the completion of Molino’s Community center and library. The center comes from a $2 million project to transform the old Molino School, originally built in 1939, into a community center, museum and library. The new 16,000 square-foot center includes a 3,500 square-foot auditorium, a nearly 4,000 square-foot library space, and 2,300 square feet for the Historical Society Museum. Construction for the project was paid for by local option sales tax funds.

October 17, 2012

January 2013

More than 200 people gather to celebrate the ribbon cutting and grand opening of Pensacola’s new main library. The renovation and expansion doubled the library’s size to 51,000 square feet and resulted in a physical address change to 239 N. Spring St. after two years of renovations. The new library includes an expanded children’s area, meeting rooms, a café, bookstore and a computer training lab.

January 2013

April 1, 2013

Molino Branch Library opens at 6450 Highway 95A after old Molino Elementary School, which was built in 1939 is converted into the Molino Community Complex in October 2012. The Molino Mid-County Historical Society and the Lillian F. King Museum are housed in the complex as well.

April 1, 2013

Jan. 22, 2013

The West Florida Public Library Board of Governance is established under the Escambia County 2013-2017 Resolution, replacing the Library Advisory Board as the policy-making body for the library system.

Jan. 22, 2013

April 10, 2013

The newly-appointed Library Board of Governance meets for the first time.

April 10, 2013

Oct. 1, 2013

Management of the West Florida Public Library System is transferred from the city of Pensacola to Escambia County.

Oct. 1, 2013

2014

A ribbon cutting ceremony is held for Westside Branch Library, located at 1301 W. Gregory St. inside of the Theophalis May Neighborhood Resource Center.

Westside Branch Library closes and does not re-open until relocated.

2014

July 2, 2014

Westside Branch Library opens at new location in Theophalis May Neighborhood Resource Center.

July 2, 2014

September 16, 2014

Southwest Branch Library closes due to Hurricane Ivan and does not re-open until relocated.

September 16, 2014

2016

West Florida Public Libraries introduced their mascot, Whooo the Owl.

2016

March 19 - April 30, 2016

Molino Branch Library and the Molino Mid-County Historical Society hosted "The Way We Worked," a Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition from Saturday, March 19 to Saturday, April 30 2016. This exhibition, which celebrated the history of American workers, was on display at the Lillian F. King Museum located in the Molino Community Complex. In addition to the traveling exhibition, the Library and the Molino Mid-County, Alger-Sullivan, and Barrineau Park historical societies, partnered to create six weeks of interesting related events showcasing the unique work history of North Escambia.

March 19 - April 30, 2016

March 2017

STEAM program started, which provides a wide range of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics programming for patrons of all ages.

March 2017

July 2017

Pensacola Library hosted their first Slow Ride with Bike Pensacola and Dr. Donald Dewey from Medical Center Clinic (who sponsored the ride). Two-hundred and fifty people took part in the Slow Ride to raise awareness of bicyclists and offering information about bicycle laws, safety tips, and addressing different bicycling skills that will help keep rides safe and enjoyable.

July 2017

August 2017

STEAM at Pensacola Library hosted two solar eclipse events in August. On Aug. 19, a special guest speaker Dr. Wayne Wooten from Pensacola State College presented the how and whys of the solar eclipse, and children were able to make a craft. The library had 1,231 people come through the doors that day. On Aug. 21 the library’s solar eclipse telescope was set up to allow patrons to have a safe viewing of the total solar eclipse 747 come for the event. Between the two events, West Florida Public Libraries gave away 300 pairs of free solar viewing glasses provided by the National Science Foundation.

August 2017

October 2017

Bouncy Baby Story Time began at Pensacola Library.

October 2017

February 2018

Bookmobile service ends.

February 2018

May 2018

A new summer program, in partnership with the 501(c)(3) Feeding the Gulf Coast, and provided 2,264 free meals to children who otherwise may not have had one. Locations were at Pensacola Library, Molino Branch Library, and Century Branch Library.

May 2018

June-July 2018

STEAM had record breaking numbers for the summer programs. The STEAM Librarians serviced seven library branches and three community centers with 55 tech programs with 2,337 in attendance, 35 maker programs with 1,653 in attendance, totaling 90 programs with 3,990 total attendance.

June-July 2018

June 2019

Our Wandering Library, the successor program to WFPL’s Bookmobile, begins service. The Outreach Librarian provides delivery of requested materials and other library services at dozens of stops throughout Escambia County.

June 2019

2020

After nearly three years the renovation of the Genealogy Branch was completed. This included reorganization of the shelving, new carpet, chairs, and expanded public computer access. The Branch manager, Karen Cook, completed the cataloging of the genealogy collection and reorganized it for easier access. A small circulating collection was started.

2020

March 21, 2020

West Florida Public Libraries closes to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

March 21, 2020

May 4, 2020

West Florida Public Libraries re-open with limited hours and services due to COVID-19 pandemic.

May 4, 2020

May 26, 2020

A summer program, in partnership with the 501(c)(3) Feeding the Gulf Coast, which provides free meals to children is now at all seven West Florida Public Libraries locations.

May 26, 2020

August 3, 2020

West Florida Public Libraries offers Launchpads for youth to check out. The Launchpads have apps that are targeted for youth ages 3-5 years old. No download time. No need for Wi-Fi.

August 3, 2020

August 17, 2020

The new InterLibrary Loan website, FLIN SHAREit, launches. Instead of library staff entering ILL requests, patrons are now able to enter requests on their own.

August 17, 2020