The Safety Harbor Public Library was first established in 1938 by the Women's Civic Club of Safety Harbor with assistance from federal Works Progress Administration (WPA) funds. For its first decade it was located inside of the Community House at 2nd St N and 6th Ave N (present location of the Rigsby Recreation Center) and operated by the Women's Civic Club. However, the expanding collection of books quickly outgrew the space and demand necessitated a dedicated library building.
In 1946, a civic-minded man by the name of Dr. Salem Baranoff, who had just purchased the Safety Harbor Spa, learned of this need and wasted no time in coming up with a solution. He purchased two empty lots on the corner of 2nd St N and 5th Ave N and donated the land for a new library. Groundbreaking for the new building was held on March 4, 1949 and it opened in November 1949. The Women's Civic Club continued to operate the library over the decades through donations, fundraising events, and occasional contributions from the City.
By 1978, due to inflation and population growth, it had become increasingly difficult for the Civic Club to provide adequate funding for the library on their own. They agreed to deed the property to the City in exchange for yearly funding and the guarantee that the library would remain in operation. The Civic Club continued to operate the library with City assistance until October 1980, when it was decided that they would turn over full operation to the City.
The building was renovated and expanded in 1987, but population growth had rapidly increased in Safety Harbor, from 6,461 in 1980 to 15,124 in 1990. The library had once again outgrown the space and a new building was planned beginning in 1991. Construction for the new building at the present location began in 1993 and the grand opening was held on October 1, 1994. It was remodeled and expanded in 2009, and the planning of a second story addition is currently in the works.
Today, the Safety Harbor Public Library is a vital part of our community and provides an anchor presence downtown. Today’s library continues to promote literacy, but provides much more than books, music, magazines, and DVDs. It also serves as a meeting place for groups and individuals for quiet study or group collaboration and a safe gathering place for youth after school. Offering a wide range of cultural and educational programs for all ages on diverse topics is a main priority.
We will continue to provide technology training and ESOL classes, as well as opportunities for early childhood literacy through story times and summer reading programs. Our gallery space provides local artists an outlet to exhibit their works. We offer a Tool Library and a Seed Library, WiFi hotspots, ukuleles, STEAM kits, and opportunities for adults to gain a high school diploma.