Winter Park Library – Doorway to the Future

Guest Columnist – Thaddeus Seymour

Editor's Note: Articles written by citizens reflect their own opinions and not the views of the Winter Park Voice.  

Winter Park Library – Doorway to the Future

“I Can Hardly Wait”

The Winter Park Public Library has been an important part of our lives ever since Polly and I moved here nearly forty years ago.  We remember the original wood building next to All Saints on Interlachen, and we were among those volunteers who helped the library move all those books to its new home in 1979.

From “Hush . . .” to the Liveliest Place in Town

Happiest of all have been the years of admiring the creative new ways our library has served the community.  When we first knew it, the library was primarily a repository for books, and the byword was “Hush . . ..”  Now it is the liveliest place in town.  Have you seen those trees created out of discarded plastic bottles, representing world religions?  Are you one of the thousands of learners who has attended one of the 700+ classes and discussions?  Have you ridden one of the bikes, perhaps the tandem?  Have you checked out an iPad? Have you tended to the plants?

Younger folks would describe today’s library as a “happenin’ place.” But we are running out of space, out of ways to make “happenin'” things happen, out of the cyber technology to support and advance what our patrons want and need.

21st Century Opportunity

Now we have the opportunity to carry this spirit into the 21st Century with an exciting new library — designed with more room for books, study, creative activities (like Makerspaces), adaptable areas. Each a doorway to the future.

The prospect of a new, flexible facility, designed to accommodate needs we can’t even imagine, is truly exhilarating, especially in the setting of Martin Luther King Park. How exciting to imagine a place in Winter Park where we all can be a part, not only of the past and the present, but of a future we can hardly imagine.

“I Can Hardly Wait for Move to MLK Park!”

The workshops and discussions over the past two years have engaged us all in the excitement of new ideas, new designs, and new opportunities.  Sam Stark and his Task Force have done a superlative job of exploring alternatives and “making the case.” Most of all, they have considered various locations and unambiguously selected the northwest corner of Martin Luther King, Jr., Park.  I can hardly wait!

The recent vote proclaims that the community can hardly wait, either.

Let’s Embrace the Future. No More Fights.

Then along comes a political PAC, stirring up a bunch of people, including some of my good friends.  And suddenly I dread that we are headed back to the dog park days, where it seemed that everyone, also including lots of friends, was mad.

Oh, please, let’s not have another ugly fight.  The vote is history.  Now let’s have the fun and excitement of working with architects, designers, librarians, and educators to build a library which will be the pride of Winter Park and the envy of other communities.

I am confident that our new library will be a rich resource, reflecting Winter Park’s historic dedication to new ideas and forward thinking.

Let’s Get On With It

And I have no doubt that it will breathe new life into Martin Luther King Park, which is a lively place on its playing fields but pretty quiet and empty at its north end.  Our new library will not only enrich and enhance our lives but will also provide new opportunities for all of us to enjoy and appreciate Martin Luther King Park.

We’ve had our vote and we know its outcome.  Now let’s get on with it.

Editor’s Note:  Seymour was president of Rollins from 1978 to 1990 and continued to teach English there until 2008. He has been a member of the Library Board and served as its Chairman 1996-98.

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7 replies
  1. John says:

    The Democratic political process does not end when one side of an issue gets its way. This isn’t over. #sorrynotsorry

  2. Anonymous says:

    Thanks Thad, It doesn’t get any better than this endorsement from our Winter Park academic and community leader.

  3. Democracy says:

    Congratulations to Dr. Seymour for being honored May 1st, when that day was named “Thaddeus Seymour Day” in Winter Park! Dr. Seymour has certainly made some great contributions to Rollins College and our city.

    I’m surprised though, that Thaddeus didn’t mention his greatest library accomplishment of all, namely, as President of Rollins College, his construction of the enormous, magnificent, and modern Olin Library on the Rollins College campus that is open to the public every day! I’m sure this was an inadvertent oversight on his part, or perhaps just his usual modesty not wanting to draw attention to his splendid accomplishment.

    The plain fact is that at Rollins, Winter Park already has a state of the art library that is open to the public at the Olin Library. And am I the only one who answered “no” to nearly every one of President Seymour’s questions above? The existing Winter Park Library meets my needs just fine, perhaps because I don’t consider the library to be the center of the universe. The people I talk to around town agree that some remodeling may be “nice” to have, but is certainly not “needed” with any urgency.

    So, that leads me to my point. Since when does the entire democratic process in Winter Park end on election day? Winter Park has an election for City Commission every year. Our City Charter empowers residents to petition for changes whenever residents are not being listened to by our ruling cabal. Our history is about a vibrant, engaged citizenry that never sleeps.

    Supporters of the proposed 50,000 sq. ft. “Martin Luther King Jr. Park Convention Center and Book Nook” (my poetic nickname for the proposed boondoggle) should have nothing to fear from democracy. If the people want a Wal-Mart sized building on our pristine green space, they will refuse to sign the petition and the Commissioners can move forward with their controversial development plans. However, if the new library group truly supports the kind of intellectual freedom they say they do, let the petition move forward. Because whatever the outcome, it’s important that we get this right as a community. Some Winter Park residents will have to live with the decision for longer than Dr. Seymour has been promoting library construction projects around town. And the proposed MLK Park location in rush hour traffic as our Central Florida population grows more dense may put it approximately one hour’s drive from Winter Park High School and Brookshire Elementary by the year 2025. For the kids? Really?

    • Anonymous says:

      Please stop implying that the new library will be built on park space. It will be built where the civic center currently stands, ADJACENT to the park. It’s disingenuous to implicate this project as a conspiracy to destroy our green spaces.

    • Roger says:

      I use my WP Library card at Rollins’ Olin Library. It is convenient only because it is walking distance from my home. One day I was driving past the library and wanting to stop, I parked in a convenient spot. Too bad for me that I did not read plainly marked parking signs. I returned to find a parking ticket in the amount of $50.00. After searching for a parking spot at the parking ticket office, I enquired if there was any relief from the ticket, and was told there was a ‘tribunal” of students who decided all parking ticket incidents. I elected not to put myself through that kind of misery.

      THE POINT IS there is no parking anywhere near the Olin Library unless one has a current parking sticker, which stickers are given only to persons currently enrolled at Rollins, administrative and academic personnel, and perhaps others with status.

      What say you now to this oversight in your eloquent soliloquy about the ‘entire democratic process NOT ending on election day’ following an election that was close, but won by those voting YES? Democracy can be an ugly process, but it takes time, and you may have passed the point of return, notwithstanding the current petition drive by a few ‘aginners’.

      • Democracy says:

        The proposed MLK site isn’t going to save you any steps. Anyone can park in the Rollins/SunTrust garage directly across Fairbanks, and cross Fairbanks at the crosswalk and dedicated walk signal (it stops all traffic in both directions while you cross the street). That crosswalk leads directly from the garage, and from there, it’s a short, pleasant walk to the Rollins College Olin Library. It’s even less walking distance than someone living near campus! No parking ticket.

        If walking bothers you, good luck walking from your new parking space in a corkscrew garage in or near Martin Luther King Jr. Park and all the way through the proposed 50,000 square feet of new library building to find your book. And that is AFTER you’ve fought your way through Winter Park traffic, clear to the other side of town to get there, only to find when you finally do get to the front door, a very efficient librarian changing the sign in the window to, “Sorry, We’re Closed. Please Try Again Tomorrow. Your Patronage Helps Us Justify Paying $30 Million Of Taxpayer Money For This”

  4. Laurel says:

    What a wonderful article. I agree with Dr. Seymour, who has contributed so greatly to the fabric of our community.

    As to the person who suggests Rollins Olin Library as a substitute for our library: that is possibly the most foolish and ill-informed comment I have read in some time. A university academic library is not the same as a community’s public library.

    But I am not surprised as “it meets my needs” is of course a very selfish view in the first place. I for one can look to the next twenty or thirty years, a time which I likely will not see for myself, and think about how the decision I made will do such good for the future of our community.

    I hope to see the new library move forward quickly!!


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