Gulfport City Council voted May 2 to pass two resolutions regarding a Gulfport Public Library program.
City staff recommended continuing the interlocal agreement with the Pinellas Public Library Cooperative. It is the latest extension of a contract that dates to 1989 and has most recently been updated in 10-year installments. City Manager Jim O’Reilly noted that he was part of the committee that created the 2001 agreement.
This arrangement provides member libraries with funding and shared resources that otherwise may be unaffordable, according to Gulfport staff. It defines the obligations of member libraries while also citing their autonomy. There are no changes to the document approved in 2018 except for extending the dates, assuming all participating municipalities approve the extension.
The interlocal agreement provides a formulaic method to distribute funds to each member library. It also allows for shared services such as an integrated library system (ILS) or circulation system, borrowing from around the county, as well as shared costs of databases that would otherwise be unaffordable, officials said.
“This is one of the best things to ever happen to the library system in Pinellas County,” said O’Reilly. “We buy our own books, but this is for sharing of new volumes and just expands the ability of the library services; you get the economy of scale, for lack of a better term.”
There was no public comment and no objection from anyone on the council.
“We love the library,” said Councilmember Christine Brown (Ward II). “Nobody questions the library.”
Gulfport Public Library Program: Summer Reading
Also approved was a resolution accepting a Florida Humanities Council grant for the summer reading program. Gulfport Library director David Mather said it is a new grant that he hopes will get offered yearly.
The award will give the library’s youth department an additional $1,100 for the 2023 Summer Reading Program, according to officials.
“The Friends [Circle of Friends of the Gulfport Library] already give us money, $1,500 to $2,000 a year, for all the summer reading programs we do. This would be on top of that,” said Mather. “This is specifically for certain storytellers within the humanities workgroup. It has to be a certain type of storyteller. But it supplements our reading program perfectly.”
Hundreds of children, from toddlers to high school seniors, participate in the library’s summer program, Mather said. He also credited the new youth librarian, Julia Pettit, with writing the grant.
No one had public comment for this item, either. Vice Mayor Paul Ray was not surprised and echoed Brown’s earlier comments.
“It’s a library, right?” he said.
View the council meeting here.