History of the Friends of Gulf Gate Library
In 1977, when Gulf Gate Library was located in a storefront on Gateway Avenue, a small group of area residents met calling themselves the Key-Gate Library Association because the library patrons came from Siesta Key and Casey Key as well as the Gulf Gate area.
Ann Marbut was elected president and the Key-Gate Library Association began fund raising in earnest for a new Gulf Gate Library.
Pursuant to that effort Leslie Shoemaker donated to the Key-Gate Library Association a 2-1/2 acre parcel of land at Gulf Gate Drive and Curtiss Avenue for a library to honor the memory of his wife.
The dedicated members of the Key-Gate Library Association
worked tirelessly since 1977 to see that the Gulf Gate Library became a reality. On December 5, 1983, Gulf Gate Library opened its doors to the public.
On March 13, 1984, the Florida Department of State, Division of Corporations, acknowledged a name change from the Key-Gate Library Association, Inc. to the Friends of the Gulf Gate Library, Inc.
Gulf Gate Library has always been one of the busiest libraries in Sarasota County and there was so much wear and tear over the years on the present building that a new Gulf Gate Library was needed. On January 19, 2013, the old Curtiss Avenue Gulf Gate Library was closed to our patrons, and Gulf Gate Library moved to a temporary site at Sarasota Square Mall. The library at the mall was officially opened to the public on February 20, 2013, with a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony. While the mall was only a temporary location for the library, most people agreed that it was a perfect site while our old library was being demolished and construction was beginning on the new library at the same site on Curtiss Avenue.
A Groundbreaking ceremony for the new Gulf Gate Library was held September 6, 2013. The ceremony took place on a vacant lot on the east side of Curtiss Avenue that was bought by the Friends of the Gulf Gate Library for additional parking. The property was later donated to Sarasota County on December 11, 2013. Director of Sarasota County Libraries Sarabeth Kalajian, County Administrator, Sarasota County Commissioners, Gulf Gate Library Manager Jim Mitchell, President of the Library Foundation Shannon Staub, and President of the Friends of the Gulf Gate Library Deanie Erb wielded the silver shovels into the ground while other administrators, library staff and friends were present to help celebrate the special event.
Gulf Gate Library was very fortunate to have a temporary location in Sarasota Square Mall; it was a large space and we were able to move everything with us. However, after approximately two years in the mall, the staff, volunteers, and friends were anxious to return to the Gulf Gate Community. Our temporary library in Sarasota Square Mall closed on January 3, 2015, and January 24, 2015, marks the Grand Opening of the New Gulf Gate Library. At 9:30 a.m. on the 24th, there was a ceremony on the Friends parking lot across from the library.
The many people who played a part in bringing the new library to fruition were represented by the morning’s speakers beginning with Sarabeth Kalajian, Director of the County Libraries, who welcomed guests and served as emcee. She noted Gulf Gate was “our smallest library but it was the busiest in the number of items borrowed and we never seemed to have enough parking.” The program began with several musical selections by Becky McKenzie’s first grade class and Marilyn Cafaro’s second grade class from Gulf Gate Elementary School. The Sarasota County Commissioners were represented by speakers Carolyn Mason, Chair, and Alan Maio, Vice Chair. Several other current and former commissioners were also present. Sarasota County Administrator Thomas A. Harmer acknowledged the contributions of the many county staff members who participated in the library project, some of whom were in attendance. Recognition was also given to design firm Harvard Jolly Architecture, construction manager Willis A. Smith Construction, Inc. and the various contractors who built the library.
Finally, Gulf Gates Manager James Mitchell Introduced the Gulf Gate Library staff. He was followed by Deanie Erb, President of the Friends of the Gulf Gate Library, whose enthusiasm was contagious.
The Riverview High School Kiltie Band Bagpipers then led the procession of people of all ages across Curtiss Avenue to the front of the new Gulf Gate Library where the Honor Guard from VFW Post 3233 raised the American flag and everyone joined in a stirring recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. Next came the moment eagerly awaited for more than two years-----the RIBBON CUTTING! Mason and Maio shared the “scissors” honor and the New Gulf Gate Library was officially open for business with over 2500 people touring the facilities that first day.
The new library is a two-story building, 25,800 square-foot building at the same site with expanded parking on either side. Key components/features of the project include: a large meeting room accommodating 120 which can be divided into two rooms accommodating 60; four additional study/meeting rooms on the second floor accommodating groups of 4-12 people; two elevators; adult reading garden; children’s reading/activity garden; computer tech lab and large public computer area; and a drive through book and media drop off area with automated materials check-in and sorting system.
The Friends of the library played a very important role in the development of the new library. The Friends Membership dues, Friends Bookstore proceeds and fundraising events, the Friends were able to purchase the parking lot across the street from the library for additional parking as well as purchase educational and technological equipment for the children and teen areas of the new library. Now that things have settled, the library is back in business with more people getting new library cards and programs and events scheduled for adults and youth.
Today the dedicated members of the Friends of Gulf Gate Library continue to carry on the work of the founders of the Friends by raising money for the needs of the new Gulf Gate Library.