Commissioners pay tribute to library system’s staff, volunteers

Sarasota County Commission Chairwoman Christine Robinson (left) reads a proclamation to Sarabeth Kalajian, general manager of the county's library system, during the commission's May 22 meeting. Former Commissioner Shannon Staub, president of the Library Foundation for Sarasota County, is second from left, adjacent to Commissioner Jon Thaxton. Photo by Norman Schimmel

With Sarasota County Library System staff members, volunteers and other supporters surrounding them on May 22, the Sarasota County commissioners and Sarabeth Kalajian, general manager of the system, formally marked the Florida Library Association’s recognition of the system as 2012 Library of the Year.

The ceremony was part of the commission’s regular meeting that day in Sarasota.

Kalajian recognized the work of the administrative team members whose efforts, she said, are critical to maintaining the collections, and she pointed out that the system has “thousands of volunteers who are committed every day to coming in and making a difference.”

Noting that the county library system was 48 years old in September, Kalajian added, “This County Commission has been committed to everything that a public library represents in a community — education, enrichment, enlightenment and the possibility for people to dream and go to the public library and find what they need to make those dreams come true.

Commission Chairwoman Christine Robinson pointed out that the library system “is a part of what makes Sarasota County such a fantastic place to live. This is part of our quality of life.”

According to the county Communications Department, 70% of county residents have a library card, and 96% have said the nine libraries are the last place the commissioners should consider in weighing budget cuts.

Kalajian presented to Robinson the plaque the system received this spring at the FLA’s annual conference in Orlando, and Robinson read a proclamation from the commission that noted many of the programs the system provides to the public.

The FLA pointed to specific accomplishments of the system in bestowing the statewide honor:

• The creation of a new Teen Center at Selby Public Library.

• The opening of the Osprey Library at Historic Spanish Point.

• The creation of the Library Foundation of Sarasota County.

• The success of the One Book, One Community and the Read it and Pass it on programs.

• The success of the Sarasota County Library System Floating Collection program.

As the presentation concluded, Commissioner Jon Thaxton told the audience that when he took office in 2000, the county already had a good library system. However, he said, he found one of his fellow commissioners to be a particularly dedicated champion for the libraries: then Commissioner Shannon Staub.

Staub, who was present for the May 22 ceremony, is serving as president of the Library Foundation for Sarasota County.

Staub told The Sarasota News Leader that the foundation members would be announcing their formal goals for the next fiscal year in just a few weeks.

The county libraries are as follows:

• Elsie Quirk Library, 100 W.Dearborn St., Englewood

• Fruitville Library, 100 Coburn Road, Sarasota

• Gulf Gate Library, 7112 Curtiss Ave., Sarasota

• Jacaranda Library, 4143 Woodmere Park Blvd., Venice

• North Port Library, 13800 S. Tamiami Trail, North Port

• North Sarasota Library, 2801 Newtown Blvd., Sarasota

• Osprey Library at Historic Spanish Point, 377 N. Tamiami Trail, Osprey

• Selby Library, 1331 First St., Sarasota

• Venice Library, 300 S. Nokomis Ave., Venice

For more information, contact the Sarasota County Call Center at 861-5000, or visit