An Historical Perspective of
East Lake Community Library
The East Lake Community Library is the result of a community initiative that began in 1989. In 1990, residents organized a volunteer-driven book drive and opened in a storefront on May 1, 1993. By 1996, the library had moved to a new shopping center but eventually had to vacate. As a result, the collection was placed in storage, and legislative leaders Jack Latvala and Sandy Safely worked to create a plan for a permanent library.
Finally, in April, 1997, Pinellas County approved the purchase of nine acres of land; funds from a state construction grant, matching funds from the county, private donations, and additional dollars from the Pinellas Public Library Cooperative made the possibility of a library building a reality.
ELCL opened its doors on November 1, 1999 and, despite its small size (4,500 square feet), it became an important element of the East Lake community. An expansion study in 2010 resulted in the funding of a small addition that included a Community Room and several staff offices, adding 1,900 square feet to the existing building.
In 2013, ELCL became an independent library with its own taxing district, thereby providing a new revenue stream for operational expenses and enhancements to the building. This also resulted in an increase in hours, staffing, programs, services, and collections.
In 2016, the library received a $1,000,000 state budget appropriation to expand the library by another 2,500 square feet. Soaring construction costs were offset by fundraising efforts and the generosity of community donors. Groundbreaking took place on November 24th, 2017, and despite several delays and setbacks, the official Grand Reopening took place on January 20th, 2019. As the library moves forward, a new Strategic Plan for 2019-2022 is being developed, and efforts continue for funding to add more space, parking, and enhancements to this community library.