West Tampa Free Public Library

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For other Carnegie Libraries, see Carnegie library (disambiguation)

West Tampa Free Public Library
West Tampa Free Public Library.jpg
General information
Architectural styleNeoclassical Revivalist
Address2312 W. Union St.
Town or cityTampa, Florida
Coordinates27°57′28″N 82°29′00″W / 27.957741°N 82.483256°W / 27.957741; -82.483256

The West Tampa Free Public Library, currently named West Tampa Branch Library, is a historic building in the West Tampa National Historic District in Tampa, Florida.[1] It was the first public library in Hillsborough County, Florida when it opened on Main and Howard Avenue in 1914.[2] The library is a historic link between the establishment of the City of West Tampa, the Cigar industry, and Latin and African-American communities. West Tampa was incorporated on May 18, 1895, with its population being nearly 3,000 and is considered one of Tampa's earliest suburban towns. In the period from 1900 to 1920, West Tampa saw enormous growth when its cigar factories were flourishing and commercial structures were being erected rapidly.[3] It was Hillsborough County's only free public library until 1917.[4] Construction of the Neo-classical revivalist style brick building was funded with a $17,500 grant from Andrew Carnegie.[1] Residents voted in a special election to accept the donation and a yearly tax to pay for the library's operating costs. The vote was 352 to 1. Land for the library was donated by cigar factory owner Angel Cuesta.[5] As a result of the high number of cigar factories in the area, the library had a Spanish-language reading section that cigar factory workers used frequently. English, Spanish, and Italian were spoken in the library because of West Tampa's ethnic diversity at that time.[6] It is one of eleven Carnegie libraries built in Florida.[2] The structure has been listed on the National Register Listing since 1983 and as a Local Historic Designation since 1988.[7]

The library is now a branch of the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library System. Of the two Carnegie Libraries that originally opened in the Tampa area, the West Tampa Branch Library is the only one that is still currently open to the public. The library celebrated its centennial in January 2014.

Restoration and expansion[edit]

In 2004, the library completed a major renovation and expansion. This renovation made the historic library more accessible to everyone in the community and to allow for the addition of library materials and technology. The main floor became a second floor meeting room. An extension of 5,000 square feet was added to the back of the building, and what was once the basement level became the library's main reading room.[2] It is now used as the West Tampa Branch Library, located at 2312 West Union Street. Land for the library building was donated by cigar factory owner Angel Cuesta. Decorations include stained glass and a triptych oil painting on canvas by artist Ferdie Pacheco titled Coming to Work, The Cigar Factory, Main Intersection is exhibited in the library's main foyer and a 2003 acrylic painting by Synthia St. James titled Kaleidoscope is located in the main reading room.[8] As part of the library's 100th anniversary, it is taking part in the LIbrary History Roadshow.[9]


In addition to books, magazines, DVDs, music CDs, and audiobooks, the library also offers meeting rooms, public use internet computers, access to electronic databases & eBooks, and a used book store.[10] As with all libraries in the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library system, the West Tampa Branch Library also offers printers, photocopiers, scanners, public fax service, free wi-fi, and assistive technology.[11]

Friends of the Library[edit]

The West Tampa Branch Library is served by the Ada T. Payne Friends of the Urban Libraries group, a volunteer group that also serves the Robert W. Saunders, Sr. Public Library and the C. Blythe Andrews, Jr. Public Library. A Friends of the Library bookstore is located on site. Proceeds from book sales are used to fund programs for children, teens and adults and to support other library activities.[12]


  1. ^ a b County's oldest library a West Tampa treasure April 22, 2011 Tampa Tribune
  2. ^ a b c Steele, K. (2011, April 27).West Tampa Library approaches century mark. Tampa Tribune, p. B20.
  3. ^ "West Tampa Branch Library". Retrieved 20 November 2017.
  4. ^ Scherzer, A. (2011, June 10). West Tampa library digs for memories. Tampa Tribune, p. B2.
  5. ^ Angel Cuesta's Legacy Reaches to Spain
  6. ^ Carr, Greg. "Then & Now: West Tampa Branch Library, 1918 and 2014". Tampa Bay Online. Times Publishing Company. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  7. ^ City of Tampa Local Historic Landmarks
  8. ^ West Tampa Library Hillsborough County Public Library Cooperative
  9. ^ The Library History Roadshow Kicks Off at West Tampa Branch Library on April 16th! March 2, 2011 Library History Roadshow
  10. ^ http://www.hcplc.org/hcplc/locations/wtp/. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  11. ^ "Technology Available in the Libraries: Services: Hillsborough County Public Library Cooperative". www.hcplc.org. Retrieved 2017-11-18.
  12. ^ hcplc.org http://www.hcplc.org/hcplc/locations/wtp/. Retrieved 18 November 2017. Missing or empty |title= (help)