More than 200 people gathered Friday to celebrate the rib- bon-cutting and grand opening of Pensacola’s new main library, located at 239 North Spring Street.
The library reopened after a two-year renovation and ex- pansion which nearly doubled the library’s size to 51,000 square feet. The two-phase project included the construc- tion of a new wing on Spring Street, after which the origi- nal 1957 building was gutted and renovated.
The new library includes an expanded children’s area, meeting rooms, coffee shop, bookstore, and more. The li- brary also includes more than 50 new computers, includ- ing a 10-station computer training lab.
“This library is a tremendous resource and asset for our community,” said Mayor Hayward. “Whether you’re com- ing to learn, to take online classes, or just to read a good book over a cup of coffee, this library will have something for everyone. This library is truly a beacon of possibility and a testament to our faith in tomorrow.”
The $7.7 million project was funded by $6 million in Local Option Sales Tax, a $606,500 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, surplus dollars from the construc- tion of the Tryon Branch Library, and a $100,000 donation by the Friends of the Pensacola Public Library.
The ceremony also featured the dedication of a firefight- er memorial and a new wing named for Maurice Bar- tholomew, a Pensacola firefighter who lost his life in the line of duty in 2000. Bartholomew, an avid reader, was based at the old Fire Station 1, which was previously lo- cated on the site of the new wing. “Maurice often worked with special children,” said his mother, Velma Jones. “When he was a little boy we would ask him what he wanted and he would always respond ‘a fire truck’. So he would always play fireman. As he grew older he volun- teered at the fire department for about four or five years.” She said. When Maurice applied to be a fireman, he was required to take a test. “He never studied for the test. We would tell him, you must study. He passed the test with a score of 99. He knew everything about being a fireman because he was always at the station,” smiled his mother.
The new library became the City of Pensacola’s first LEED-certified building, incorporating a number of ener- gy-efficient strategies, such as a tank less gas water heater and low-flow plumbing fixtures. The improvements are expected to cut the main library’s energy costs by as much as 15 percent.