About the Library System

FY2012 STATISTICAL AND FINANCIAL SUMMARIES

Facilities

  • Five (5) Branches and  Pruitt Campus Library joint-use facility
  • Square footage of the five (5) Branches: 65,900
  • Pruitt Campus Library: an additional 25,000 square feet
  • Total: 90,900 square feet

Service Hours per Week

  • Five Branches weekly combined: 166
  • Pruitt Campus Library is open 60 hours per week
  • Total annual hours open to the public: 11,216

Patron Visits

  • In-person: 544,142
  • Virtual visits (internal & external web site visits): 269,773
  • Total: 813,915

Registered Borrowers

  • 151,553 residents
  • 242  non-residents
  • Total: 151,795

Circulation

  • Adult books: 353,502
  • Youth Adult books: 27,314
  • Children's books: 156,967 
  • Media (DVDs, CDs, video, audiobooks): 166,871
  • E-books and e-audiobooks: 15,169
  • Total: 719, 823

Internet Access

  • Number of computers available to the public: 110
  • Sessions on public computers: 106,789

Collections

  • Print: 260,118
  • Media: 17,294
  • E-books and e-audiobooks: 1,400
  • Databases: 61
  • Annual print subscriptions: 464

Service Levels and Programs

  • 299,310 reference questions answered (in person, phone, email, Ask a Librarian)
  • 22,785 patrons attended 887 programs at the combined five Branches

Staffing

  • 44 full time equivalents (FTEs)
  • 88 volunteers contributing 7,234 hours 

Operating Budget / General Fund

  • Personnel: $1,823,070
  • Books, e-books, media, databases, subscriptions, book leasing plans: $282,635
  • Utilities, datalines and other communication costs: $201,348
  • Supplies, contracted services and other operating expenses: $158,569
  • Total: $2,465,622

Funding from State Aid

  • $91, 624

Capital Improvements Funded from Impact Fees

  • Materials and equipment: $245,591
  • Infrastructure: Completion of  Hurston Branch expansion: $572,422

HISTORY OF THE LIBRARY SYSTEM

As early as 1903, a small group of citizens in Fort Pierce decided to create a reading room to be set up in the Community Hall, a building located on the site of the former HD King Generating Station on South Indian River Drive. Having no money, they approached churches, civic organizations (of which there were very few) and individuals to loan books for the enterprise which was manned by volunteer workers. The second home of the "reading room" was in the Cobb Building at the foot of Avenue A in Fort Pierce.

In 1913 the Woman's Club residence was built and that organization volunteered to house and manage the "reading room". The Woman's Club was the home of the "reading room" until 1950, when it was moved to an old house in the 7th Street Park owned by the City of Fort Pierce.

The St. Lucie County Library Association was founded in 1946 -- the principal factor being a bequest by the late P. P. Cobb to the Woman's Club for library purposes. This organization started with $1,000 in the treasury. The first president was E. C. Collins and the head of the Finance Committee was Dan McCarty, under whose leadership a group of dedicated citizens raised $15,000 by door-to-door solicitation. The City of Fort Pierce donated two lots located on 2nd Street and Atlantic Avenue which were sold to the News Tribune for $8,250, making a grand total of $23,000 in the treasury.

St. Lucie County Public Library Founders Plaque

Ground was broken in 1952 on land given by the City of Fort Pierce to the Library Association, and on Sunday, May 3, 1953, the new building constructed there was publicly dedicated. A year later, on Saturday, May 1, 1954, the former Main Library of the St. Lucie County Library System was officially opened as the St. Lucie County Public Library with a professional librarian, the first county-supported library in the state. The original building consisted only of what was later called the Reference Room. The City of Fort Pierce and the Woman's Club had moved 1,000 books from the 7th Street Park building, and a hard core of library friends supplied enough furniture and materials to permit operation of this institution. The State Library of Florida loaned St. Lucie County 2,000 books to help open the Library, and donations of books and furniture were received from church groups, civic organizations and individuals.

In 1958 a Stack Room was added to the building, and the Library started its Bookmobile service through Federal grant funding. Also, in 1958, the St. Lucie County Library Association entered into a contract with the Okeechobee County Commission to form a regional library system. There was one library in each County, with the Fort Pierce facility being designated as the headquarters. The St. Lucie-Okeechobee Regional Library System, as it was called, was governed by a Board of Directors consisting of five members from the Library Association and five members appointed by the Okeechobee County Board of Commissioners.

In 1967 a "Big Addition" to the Library was completed at a cost of $111,000: two-thirds of the funding came from Federal funds and City and County Commission each contributed $25,000. A dance was held to raise funding for furniture and equipment. The result, after expenses, was $5,500, quite a bit of money for that time period.

Former Main Library
Former Main Library (1954-1999)

On December 7, 1970, the Lincoln Park Community Library was opened in a building provided by the Fort Pierce Housing Authority. A federal grant was received which helped provide equipment and materials. When the site opened, it had 2,000 catalogued books on the shelves ready for circulation.

On December 1, 1971, the Port St. Lucie Branch Library was opened in a new building constructed and donated by General Development Corporation to St. Lucie County and the Regional Library Board. Funding for furniture and equipment was obtained through door-to-door solicitation as well as contributions from the City of Port St. Lucie, St. Lucie County Board of County Commissioners and the Library Association, as well as some State-Aid funds set aside by the Regional Board.

In 1972 the Regional Board approved the purchase of a new Bookmobile and the sale of the old vehicle. In May 1973 the new Bookmobile went into service, and a gala Open House was held to celebrate the Library's 20th anniversary.

On September 30, 1973, the Lincoln Park Community Library was closed after nearly three years of operation. The reasons for closing the facility were "poor location, lack of use, not enough people served." It was clear that the community still needed a branch library, but this dream would not be realized until 1991 with the opening of the Zora Neale Hurston Branch Library.

In 1977 several things happened. The St. Lucie-Okeechobee Regional Library System ceased to exist, with St. Lucie and Okeechobee Counties each assuming the responsibility for providing library service. The St. Lucie County Library System became a part of County government with all funding provided by that agency of local government. The County Commission authorized the establishment of a Library Advisory Board consisting of nine members, six appointed by the Board of County Commissioners and three appointed by the Friends of the St. Lucie County Library Association, Inc.

In 1981 the Port St. Lucie Branch Library was expanded from 1500 square feet to 4500 square feet. Funding for this expansion came from the Board of County Commissioners, the Friends of the St. Lucie County Library Association, Inc., and local fund-raisers in Port St. Lucie. Several mobile units were established in the 1980's to determine the need for additional library services. One unit was placed at 7508 Jennings Way, Lakewood Park, and another at 606 North 29th Street, Fort Pierce. Both of these mobile units showed the need for additional library services and two new branch facilities were planned.

During 1984 and 1985 the St. Lucie County Library System undertook the daunting task of automating library functions using the HCE online system, one of the first libraries in Florida to do so. Obtaining and loading computer records for the entire holdings of the Library System was a major project in itself. There was no turning back, and libraries would never be quite the same again.

In 1987 construction began on the 10,000 square foot Lakewood Park Branch Library. The land was donated to the County by the Lakewood Park Homeowner's Association with a $1.00 lease. Library Services and Construction Act funding was obtained for this, the first new library built in 18 years. The Friends of the Library donated $60,000 towards furniture and equipment for this facility which opened in late 1989. This was the first facility to open with an online public access catalog (OPAC) and no traditional card catalog.

Also in 1987 the Friends of the St. Lucie County Library Association, Inc., purchased a piece of property on North 29th Street and Avenue D for the construction of a new library. The Friends donated this land to St. Lucie County with the stipulation that a new building be constructed within five years or the land would be returned to the Friends of the Library. In 1991 ground was broken for the new Zora Neale Hurston Branch Library, and it was opened that December. This 5,200 square foot facility was designed to eventually expand to 10,000 square feet. LSCA funds were also obtained for the construction of this project.

Having outgrown our first online system, the Library System converted to Sirsi's Unicorn in July 1991. This advancement in technology included the installation of OPACs in all of our facilities with dial-in access implemented on October 15, 1993, for patrons from home, school or office.

St. Lucie County took its first step in joint funding of a library facility with the construction of the Morningside Branch Library in Port St. Lucie. A grant was written by the St. Lucie County Library System and the St. Lucie County School Board to obtain funding through a Community Education Facility grant to build a complex which would serve the public and the Middle School slated for construction on Morningside Boulevard. A grant of $792,892 was received for partial construction of this facility with the remaining funds coming from the Board of County Commissioners. The Friends of the St. Lucie County Library Association, Inc., also contributed $40,000 towards equipment and furniture. This 20,000 square foot library opened on January 2, 1993, with much support of local residents and kudos for such a wonderful facility.

In 1995 a unique facility was opened in St. Lucie West. Indian River Community College built a library which was being used temporarily as classrooms. An interlocal agreement was signed between IRCC and the Board of County Commissioners, and IRCC also signed an interlocal agreement with Florida Atlantic University for library services. St. Lucie West Library was the first cooperative library of its kind in the State of Florida. Using State Aid funding, the St. Lucie County Library System contracted to pay for some staff and provide a popular reading collection and periodicals for the general public. The patrons could access electronic databases, search the World Wide Web and have Internet email accounts at this library before they were available at Library System facilities. We were on our way to the virtual "library without walls." In March the Library System became a member of the Central Florida Library Cooperative which served public, school, academic and special libraries in east-central Florida, providing training and access to online services on a regional basis.

1995 was also the beginning of a cooperative venture between the City of Fort Pierce, the St. Lucie County Board of County Commissioners and the Friends of the St. Lucie County Library Association, Inc. Through a charrette held in January, 1995, and the redevelopment plans for Downtown Fort Pierce, a new Branch Library concept began to take shape. A grant was submitted in May, 1995, with St. Lucie County being ranked number 2 in the State for its proposal, with the outcome being a grant of $400,000.

Last St. Lucie County Bookmobile
Last St. Lucie County Bookmobile

With the assistance of a grant from the State Library of Florida, the St. Lucie County Library System inaugurated a brand new state-of-the-art Bookmobile in January, 1997, to serve our patrons not readily able to reach our Library System facilities. In March the Library System's web pages first appeared on the St. Lucie County Chamber of Commerce website. Thanks to funding by the Friends of the St. Lucie County Library Association, Inc., the Library System's own website was established with its own Internet address in December, 1997: http://www.st-lucie.lib.fl.us!

During the summer of 1998 ground was broken for the Fort Pierce Branch Library, and, shortly after the old Main Library closed, the new facility opened in July, 1999, with full Internet access and online databases for the public. The "library without walls" concept was extended to all Library System sites before the end of summer, and Internet access to the online catalog was made possible through WebCat.

In February, 2000, the St. Lucie County Library System received ten PCs (two in Spanish), two content servers and two laser printers through a grant from the Library Program of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for public access to many titles of Microsoft reference, educational and productivity software for both adults and children. During the summer of 2001 Port St. Lucie Branch Library was renovated with new lighting, voice/data lines, air conditioning, flooring, and ADA-compliant automatic entrance doors. In December St. Lucie West Library moved into a larger two-floor facility in a new joint-use building shared by IRSC and FAU, opening to the public in January, 2002. Morningside Branch Library was rewired and upgraded to current standard for voice and data during the summer of 2002.

In February 2003, the St. Lucie County Library System began the upgrading through replacement of all public Internet computers. Most of the PCs were originally installed in 1999 and 2000 as a generous gift from an anonymous donor in Martin County. The remainder were purchased through a State Library grant under the Florinet Enhanced Connectivity program. As part of St. Lucie County Information Technology's PC Replenishment Program, all of the Library System's old PCs were replaced over a three-year period by new ones manufactured to County specifications by Howard Computers of Laurel, Mississippi.

In addition to Internet Explorer, all of the new computers included the full Microsoft Office Suite with Word, Excel, Publisher, Power Point, and more. New security software funded by the Friends of the St. Lucie County Library Association, Inc., allowed patrons to download to floppy disks and activate the Windows "Accessibility Wizard" to meet vision, hearing and mobility needs. As part of the deployment, PC Reservation was installed at all five Library System sites. Installation of this automated system that assigns patrons their half-hour sessions on the Internet PCs was made possible by a generous donation from Floyd and Evelyn Welch.

On January 5, 2004, Library System staff went "live" as part of "Ask a Librarian," a state-wide initiative to provide real-time online "chat" reference service over the Internet. In March, 2004, the Zora Neale Hurston Branch Library was rewired and upgraded to current standard for voice and data. A new circulation desk was installed along with other refurbishments. The Branch was also the focal point for the dedication of the Zora Neale Hurston Dust Tracks Heritage Trail, with many County and City officials in attendance.

On May 11, 2004, the St. Lucie County Board of County Commissioners approved a proclamation declaring May "St. Lucie County Library Golden Anniversary Month" in recognition of a half-century of service to the community. That autumn, hurricanes Frances and Jeanne caused damage to all Library System facilities, with Hurston Branch suffering the worst. The original Main Library building was demolished in February 2005, and, in October, hurricane Wilma tested staff resilience and the repairs made after the previous season.

In 2008, property tax reform, a faltering economy and the high cost of energy resulted in the loss of more than one fourth of the Library System's staff through early retirement and layoffs, reduced hours of service and the decommissioning of the Bookmobile. In September the Library System deployed fifteen new PCs for public access at Fort Pierce and Hurston Branches through a follow-up grant from the U.S. Libraries Initiative of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation administered by the State Library of Florida.


Head Librarians / Library Directors / Library Managers
  • Mary Alice Parsons 1954-1960
  • Dorothea Brennan 1960-1962
  • N. Lynn Barber, 1963
  • Dorothy Lyon 1963-1969
  • Eugenia Babylon 1969-1970
  • Margaret Beda 1970-1975
  • Patricia McManus 1976-1977 (Acting)
  • Alva D. Henehan 1977-1988
  • Susan B. Kilmer 1988-2010
  • Susan Jacob 2010-

Library System Homepage