The Robert W. Saunders, Sr. Public Library in Ybor City, Tampa, Florida features an impressive array of museum-style displays and vibrant public art after the facility was renovated recently. With an emphasis on the area’s history and African American population, the permanent displays explore the history of the historic black business district of Central Avenue and the civil rights movement. Since 2015, shortly after the refurbished library unveiled its new look, the Tampa-Hillsborough County Library System invited the USF Libraries Special Collections to use one of its display cases to showcase relevant materials. Since then, Special Collections has created physical displays, with the latest being installed late in 2021. The current exhibit, which will be on display through May 2022, features the records of the Tampa (FL) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated, a service organization composed of professional African American women, whose members donated its records to Special Collections in April 2021. Featuring photographs and other materials from the collection, the new display tells the story of this inspirational organization.
The Saunders Public Library was named after the civil rights activist Robert W. Saunders, Sr., a former Tuskegee airman who served with distinction in World War II and led Florida’s NAACP after the assassination of his predecessor, Harry T. Moore. As the home to the Robert W. and Helen S. Saunders papers, it seems natural that Special Collections would collaborate with the library that bears his name. We also share a human element. Christine Toth, who is now a librarian at the Saunders Public Library, worked in Special Collections when she was a graduate student at USF’s School of Information. We feel lucky to count Chrissy as a colleague and friend and are grateful to have such great community partners.
Credit: Andy Huse, Associate Librarian, Special Collections, USF Libraries
Photo credit: Christine “Chrissy” Toth, Librarian, Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library