The community of Osprey will soon begin a new chapter.
The Sarasota County Commission approved a sublease with Gulf Coast Heritage Association Inc., in which the county will pay the group $500 per month for operating expenses in exchange for space to operate a library service in the 630-square-foot space that is currently used as a visitor’s center for Historic Spanish Point. The plan will create what Osprey residents began pushing for years ago: a small library in Osprey, located on the 12-mile stretch from the Gulf Gate Public Library and Venice Public Library.
“This has been a long time coming,” said Osprey resident Rick Noyes, a founding member of Friends of the Osprey Library, when he learned of the commission’s approval. “It’s gratifying to see everybody being in enthusiastic agreement that this is a good step for Osprey.”
Osprey residents came close to getting a library in 2006, when Bay Street Village developer Henry Rodriguez donated a quarter-acre of land for the county to build a library within the development, although county budget cuts and sales setbacks for Bay Street Village ended those discussions.
Sarabeth Kalajian, general manager of the Sarasota County Library System, said that the library, which could open in March or early April, will be a “fairly modest start-up,” possibly operated with a single staff member, along with volunteers.
Kalajian said that the county looked at “Connections” libraries that have become popular in the Seattle area and in Oregon that utilize small spaces in neighborhood centers, government buildings and shopping developments. They often resemble coffee shops with multiple computers, along with books and magazines.
One advantage of the Connections model is that it draws people who may not be traditional library users, Kalajian said. But, in Osprey, a community in which many residents already use libraries, Kalajian said that the main advantage of the new library will be its convenience.
The library will have new features, such as a locker bank system, in which library users can reserve materials and pick them up from a locker using a code 24 hours a day; that system could eventually be used at other county libraries. Some communities that the county studied also have lockers in non-library locations, such as bank kiosks.
“We certainly want to take a pulse of what’s working at the location and what could be applied to other locations,” Kalajian said.
Kalajian expects that the arrangement will be beneficial for both Historic Spanish Point and the library.
“There’s something of value to both partners in this,” she said. “There are people who come to our libraries who haven’t been to Spanish Point.”
Sarabeth Kalajian general manager of the Sarasota County Library System, has been seeking feedback from residents about what they would like to see in the Osprey library. But many library users are interested in a new service in which they don’t have to leave home to access new reading materials. Earlier this month, the county announced a new program in which library cardholders can download free eBooks through the Sarasota County Libraries’ website, sclibs.net. The collection includes titles for adults, teens and children.
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