Library History

1950s / 1960s / 1970s / 1980s / 1990s / 2000s / 2010s

1950s

  • 1954: The Friends of the Library was formed by the American Association of University Women to generate public support for a library. Tallahassee was the only state capital in the United States not offering free public library service.
  • 1955: The library was established by legislative action in May and the library was developed by citizens and civic groups.
  • 1955: The first librarian, M.G. Lamb, was appointed in September.
  • 1956: The first Leon County free public library opened its doors on March 21 in 5,000 square feet of The Columns, one of the oldest remaining antebellum homes in the Leon County area, and located at Park and Adams. Close to 5,000 volumes were on its shelves.
  • 1956: A bookmobile, donated in March by the Junior League of Tallahassee, expanded the library’s services.

1960s

  • 1962: Library moved to the old Elks Club building at 127 North Monroe Street, more than doubling its space to 12,000 square feet.
  • 1964: Mary McLendon served as acting director of the Library.
  • 1966: John Pitzer was appointed to the director's post.
  • 1967: Mary McLendon served as acting director once again.
  • 1968: The library’s second bookmobile was purchased.
  • 1969: Verna Nistendirk was named library director.
  • 1969: The library’s first bookmobile was retired after more than 12 years’ service. The vehicle was donated to the County Sheriff to be revamped and used as a paddy wagon for the Road Prison.

1970s

  • 1970: In October, Jefferson County became a part of what was to become, within a year, the Leon, Jefferson, and Wakulla County Public Library System.
  • 1971: Wakulla County joined the cooperative in October. Leon County provided administrative and other services to the two smaller counties, while each supported the direct costs of their library services and their share of Leon's administrative costs.
  • 1973: Paul T. Donovan was named library director.
  • 1975: A small branch library was opened in September in the Bond Community.
  • 1975: Wakulla County left the multicounty system to establish its own library system.
  • 1978: The main library moved again in May, to a 44,000 square foot space in the lower level of the Northwood Mall.

1980s

  • 1980: Jefferson County established its own library. The library returned to its original name, Leon County Public Library.
  • 1980: Lois Fleming was named library director.
  • 1985: The library’s third bookmobile was purchased and took to the road.
  • 1986: Stanley Bustetter served as the library's director beginning in June.
  • 1986: A group of citizen volunteers established Project B.U.I.L.D. to build a permanent home for the main library.
  • 1988: Sandra Wilson became library director.
  • 1989: A ground breaking was held on March 4 for a new $8.5 million main library facility with 88,000 feet of space. The site was next door to the library's original home, The Columns, which had been moved in 1971 to 100 N. Duval.

1990s

  • 1991: The new Main Library building opened on January 20. The Grand Opening celebration took place on February 22, 23 and 24; the ribbon-cutting ceremony, keynote speech by Gov. Lawton Chiles and grand opening was on February 23.
  • 1991: The Lake Jackson Branch Library opened in a small storefront in Huntington Oaks Shopping Center in August.
  • 1992: Helen Moeller was appointed library director.
  • 1993: The library was renamed to honor Governor LeRoy Collins on September 17. U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno was present to dedicate the library in memory of her longtime friend and colleague.
  • 1994: A storefront Northeast Branch Library opened in the Northampton Shopping Center in August.
  • 1997: Parkway Branch Library, previously housed in a retired, stationary bookmobile, moved to a small storefront in the Cross Creek Square Shopping Center.
  • 1997: The Bond Branch Library was renamed Dr. B.L. Perry, Jr. Branch Library in honor of the former president of Florida A&M University.

2000s

  • 2000: In June the Northeast Branch Library’s grand opening was held in its new 14,000 square ft. building on Thomasville Road.
  • 2000: In December, the LeRoy Collins Leon County Public Library was the scene of the televised recount of Miami-Dade ballots cast during the 2000 presidential election. The count was eventually halted by order of the United States Supreme Court.
  • 2001: The library celebrated its Tenth Anniversary in the main library.
  • 2001: The Dr. B.L.Perry, Jr. Branch Library opened in its new 10,000 square ft. building on South Adams Street.
  • 2004: The Ft. Braden Branch Library opened in a unique 5,600 square ft. building on Blountstown Highway. The building design incorporated 2,200 square feet of a house into the library's structure.
  • 2004: The Northeast Branch was dedicated in honor of former Leon County Commissioner Bruce J. Host.
  • 2006: The library system celebrated its 50th anniversary with a Celebration in the Park on March 11.
  • 2008: With funding from The Friends of the Library and Leon County, the library purchased a new bookmobile and a book hauler for outreach services to seniors.

2010s

  • 2010: Cay Hohmeister was appointed Director.
  • 2010: In November, a ribbon cutting ceremony was held for a 3,000 square foot expansion of the Dr. B.L. Perry, Jr. Branch Library.
  • 2010: In December, a ribbon cutting was held for a 5,000 square foot expansion of the Northeast Branch Library.
  • 2011: A new Woodville Branch Library was opened October 1 in a 2,000 square foot addition to the Woodville Community Center.
  • 2011: The 2,000 square foot Parkway Branch was closed and moved to a new 12,000 square foot LEED-certified building. Located on Pedrick Road, the branch was renamed Eastside Branch Library and opened in November.
  • 2012: Lake Jackson Branch moved from its original storefront to a new, expanded and specially designed 12,000 square foot space in the same shopping center. The space adjoined a new community center for northwestern Leon County.
  • 2013: Bookmobile services to rural stops ended due to the expansion of the branch library system.
  • 2014: In April the library launches a Facebook page to celebrate National Library Week.
  • 2015: The seed library program began in February. Each spring and fall various vegetable and herb seeds are available for patrons to check out. The Library partnered with Leon County Cooperative Extension on this project.
  • 2016: On February 13 the twenty-fifth anniversary of the opening of the downtown Main Library was celebrated. Dignitaries, supporters, as well as staff and patrons from the past 25 years commemorated this event with a daylong celebration.
  • 2016: On April 20 the Library launched its Instagram page.
  • 2016: On September 28 the tree sculpture carved by sculptor John Birch from the trunk of a live oak tree that stood there was dedicated.
  • 2016: On October 26, the Ft Braden Branch was renamed the Jane G. Sauls Ft Braden Branch Library to honor retiring commissioner Jane G. Sauls.
  • 2016: In December the Library began offering telescopes for checkout.