Former county commissioner to be recognized for her service to the community, especially the libraries
One of former Sarasota County Commissioner Shannon Staub’s earliest memories revolves around a visit to a library.
“My mother took me way before I probably knew more than 20 words,” she told The Sarasota News Leader in a recent telephone interview. She remembered being awed, Staub said, as she looked up at all the stacks. “It can be a bit overwhelming [to a child],” she added.
But that marked the beginning of her long association with libraries, she pointed out.
About a year after she stepped down from the Sarasota County Commission — in 2010 — she became chair of the Library Foundation of Sarasota County, which was established to collaborate with the county’s library system and all the Friends of the Library groups to raise funds for system-wide needs and for an endowment.
Still, Staub was surprised when Commissioner Christine Robinson — Staub’s successor on the County Commission — proposed on Oct. 13 that the board name the new North Port Library in honor of her, Staub said.
County staff is collaborating with the Sarasota County School Board on the project, which will result in a community facility on the new Suncoast Technical College campus in North Port.
“There’s been a name that’s been on my mind for almost five years now,” Robinson pointed out on Oct. 13 as she broached the subject of recent board bestowal of names on facilities.
Robinson added that Staub represented District 3 for 14 years, and “her service [with] the Library Foundation has been incredible.”
A Dec. 7 report to the County Commission from Sarabeth Kalajian, the county’s director of libraries and historical resources, explains that after researching Robinson’s request, “Staff recommends proceeding with the naming of the new North Port library to be constructed at the Suncoast Technical College in honor of former Commissioner Shannon Staub.”
“I’m not sure I’m the most deserving person,” Staub told the News Leader. “I’m pleased,” she acknowledged, “[but] I wish [the naming] had gone through a public process.”
“[Staub] was humbled that I would suggest it,” Robinson said in a separate telephone interview with the News Leader. “She’s very humble,” Robinson noted. “She told me it wasn’t necessary.”
When Staub first talked with her after learning of the proposal, Robinson told the News Leader, Staub protested that she did not deserve the honor. Robinson then reminded her about advice she gave Robinson as Robinson prepared to serve out Staub’s unexpired term. (Robinson was appointed to the District 3 seat.): “Do what’s in your heart, and do the right thing.”
After Robinson made that comment to Staub, Robinson said with a chuckle, “I got silence from her.”
During her Oct. 13 remarks to her colleagues, Robinson noted of Staub, “She’s still showing up in [District 3], all over the place, at community meetings. She’s just a very caring person.”
With facilities recently having been named for former Commissioners Jon Thaxton and Nora Patterson, Robinson continued, “I’ve been waiting for the appropriate thing” to suggest in recognition of Staub.
The new North Port Library “will not be finished before I am out of office,” Robinson added. (Term limits will make it necessary for her to step down in November 2016.) “Hence, I am bringing it up now.”
Chair Carolyn Mason suggested Robinson make a motion regarding the county’s pursuit of the naming process. After Robinson did so, Commissioner Paul Caragiulo seconded it, and it passed unanimously.
In the Dec. 7 board report, Kalajian wrote that staff had contacted North Port City Manager Jonathan Lewis about Robinson’s proposal, as Robinson had requested. “Mr. Lewis responded that there were no concerns with the proposal, since the decision naming a County facility falls under the purview of the Board of County Commission,” she added.
Staff also contacted Sarasota County Schools Superintendent Lori White, Kalajian continued, and White “indicated that there were no concerns regarding the proposal …” White asked only that county staff notify her after the decision was finalized, so she could convey the information to the School Board, Kalajian continued.
Additionally, the report pointed out that three of the county’s nine libraries already are named in honor of county residents: the Elsie Quirk Public Library in Englewood, which opened in 1962; the Selby Public Library in downtown Sarasota, named in honor of William G. and Marie Selby — “prominent Sarasota citizens and generous philanthropists,” the memo said; and the Jacaranda Public Library in Venice, which opened in 1994. The latter “was renamed in 1995 to honor Frances T. Bourne, founder and first President of the Friends of the Library, Library Advisory Board member and advocate of local public libraries since 1976,” when Bourne moved to Florida, the memo noted.
After she received the board report, Robinson told the News Leader, she emailed Kalajian, seeking a definitive date for the board to vote on the naming. Kalajian responded that a presentation regarding progress on the new library will be part of the annual Convocation of Governments, which the School Board will host on Jan. 15, Robinson noted.
After that meeting, the County Commission and county staff will know more about when the naming can proceed, Robinson said.
“We’ll find an appropriate time to bring it before the board and vote on it,” she added, with the goal of having Staub present.
“It’s certainly a legacy moment for me,” Staub acknowledged to the News Leader.