In celebration of The Friends of the Jacaranda Library 25th Anniversary, our Legacy Tree, honoring members who have given $200 or more, was installed next to the Friends Book Shop. Please consider becoming a Legacy Member and join these Friends. Membership forms are available in the Book Shop and on the Friends display case.
The new view of the front of the Frances T. Bourne Jacaranda Library after extensive new landscaping and exterior painting has been well received by the community. We are indeed fortunate to have such a lovely, natural setting for our library.
The most distinctive characteristic of the Frances T. Bourne Jacaranda Public Library is the way the building and the natural world flow into each other. “We are very proud that we are situated in such a beautiful, natural setting,” said Greg Carlson, library manager. “We attract a lot of artists and photographers.” A pond next to the library is the natural feature on the library’s campus that draws the most people. Hundreds of pond lilies are in bloom with yellow flowers this time of year. In spring, people come to see, photograph and paint pictures of the purple blooms on a jacaranda tree that stands next to the library along Jacaranda Boulevard, just east of Tamiami Trail.
The pond, which has no name, is arguably the most beautiful storm water retention pond in Sarasota County. In addition to attracting birds, butterflies and an occasional alligator, the pond is the centerpiece of a quarter mile paved walking trail that circles the pond and includes a section immediately adjacent to the library. The trail bears a Health Department designation as a place to go for health and fitness. Trees, plants and shrubs on the library grounds are marked with small identification signs. A master gardener program held at the library each Thursday morning helps residents learn about native plants. The library also has a native plant garden.
“Libraries are places that aren’t only about books,” Carlson said. “We also want to play a role in the community, and that includes helping a community learn about itself. A library is a place where you can learn about other cultures, but it’s also a place where you can learn about the place you live — which includes learning about the plants and animals in the community.” Gopher tortoises, a fox and an otter have all been seen around the pond, Carlson said. The pond can be seen from inside the library, which is bathed in natural light.
Sarasota architect Carl Abbott blended the indoors and outdoors when he designed an addition to the library that opened in 2004. Abbott is known as one of the leaders of the Sarasota School of Architecture, which put an emphasis on a building’s natural surroundings. The 2004 addition doubled the size of the Jacaranda library to 25,000 square feet. The library opened in 1994. A year later, the name of Frances T. Bourne was added to the library’s name. Bourne was a community activist who led the lobbying effort that resulted in a library along Jacaranda Boulevard. She became the first president of The Friends of the Jacaranda Library Inc.
Carlson said the Jacaranda library, like libraries throughout the county, is adjusting to changes in technology. The e-book collection is growing, for example. Some changes simply entail moving books around. Until a couple of weeks ago, the library had a Florida collection that consisted of several hundred books. The collection had its own designated space. Now those books — on travel, local history and natural history — are interspersed on the shelves with other nonfiction books. “We want people who are browsing to come upon those books,” Carlson said. “We want to see those books used more than they were when they stood off by themselves.” Each book about Florida still bears a blue label that sets it apart.
The Jacaranda library’s emphasis on the natural world of Sarasota County and Florida is visible on the interior walls as well. There are murals, paintings and photographs of birds, flowers and marine life. For example, a framed watercolor by Margaret Williams depicts a pond lily in bloom on the pond.
Outside the library, Carlson pointed out a couple 220-gallon cisterns that capture rainwater that runs off the library’s roof. The water is used to water the various kinds of plants surrounding the building. “We are part of a demonstration system through which the Sarasota County government shows residents how to harvest rainwater for their own use,” Carlson said. He said that’s another aspect of how a library can play a role in the community and help a community learn about itself.
Some days, too, the library staff brings out a spotting scope and puts it along a wall of windows Abbott designed with the idea of giving people inside the building a wide view of the pond. “We want people to get a close-up look at the flora and fauna in the pond,” Carlson said. The scope, he said, can provide a clear, close look at a turtle on the far side of the pond.
In images and real life, the natural world is always around at the Jacaranda library.
Excerpt from an article published in the Venice Gondolier Sun by correspondent, Larry Evans. All photos by Larry Evans.
Library patrons can now enjoy the addition of eight new study carrels at Jacaranda Public Library along with two additional tables, with a privacy screen for tutoring sessions. The furniture is located near the Information Services desk and will be a welcome enhancement for patrons desiring private study spots, as well as literacy coaches needing space to help students. Over the years, Information Services have had constant requests for private study area. The oak carrels include two quads where as many as four people can sit at each. “It’s a way to set up a portable study area,” said Mary Louise Fischer. Each carrel is fitted with handsome green “patina” chairs.
The expansion is the result of a joint effort by the FRIENDS, Library Manager Greg Carlson and Assistant Library Manager Mary Louise Fischer who applied for grants to fund the project. The FRIENDS received a Plantation Community Foundation and a Community Foundation of Sarasota Grant – both grants were written for the FRIENDS of Jacaranda Public Library. The Plantation Community Foundation of Sarasota seeks nonprofits for projects that benefit the residents of Sarasota County. The grants were received in the Fall of 2011 and Spring of 2012.
Last Fall, Mary Louise began the project by weeding the Reference Collection in order to remove two aisles of shelving where the carrels are located. FRIENDS member Bill Kegel did much of the work in removing library materials along with Facilities Department workers who removed shelving and assembled the carrels.