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A rainy day? Palm Harbor Library has got you covered

Unexpected rain showers should no longer put a damper on a visit to the library, which is now lending umbrellas to its patrons.

Published January 2, 2006

PALM HARBOR - Jane Landino maneuvered through the parking lot with her large red umbrella, covering herself and her videotapes from a sprinkling rain as she sidestepped puddles to make it into the library.

She was prepared.

But for those patrons who visit Palm Harbor Library without checking out the weather, they can check out umbrellas along with books and videotapes.

Landino thinks it's a good idea.

"A lot of ladies have their hair done and don't want to (mess) it up," she said.

The 33 large burgundy and white umbrellas purchased by the Palm Harbor Friends of the Library cost only $7 each, but can provide an important service.

"You never know when you might need it," said Marie Dusten, who was changing her library card after recently moving to the area.

Pat and Arthur Budlong, patrons since 1993, were pleased about the umbrellas.

"There are times when you might look forward to that," said Pat Budlong. Especially because they had left theirs in the car, Arthur added.

Jean Rath had had her umbrella clutched by her side all day and said she probably won't use the service.

"I keep it with me all day," she said. "It's just one of those days."

Since the umbrellas arrived this fall, patrons are starting to learn about them and use them. The day after the umbrellas came in, it started pouring. The staff yelled back to the catalog department, "Catalog those umbrellas!"

"Suddenly, they became a critical item," administrative assistant Debbie Phillips said. "They've been pretty popular."

The umbrellas, imprinted with the library's logo, circulate for 28 days and renew for an additional 14 days. Overdue fines are 10 cents per day.

Library assistant Susan Plas came up with the idea almost a year ago at the library's annual staff development day, when library director Gene Coppola asked employees to brainstorm innovative services for patrons of the library, which has more than 161,000 books, 25 employees, and at least 125 volunteers.

Coppola is no stranger to new ideas or for asking others for theirs.

In 2002, he conducted 27 focus groups for six months of local organizations of various backgrounds. Their wish lists? Better parking, more books, larger children's sections, more space, more staff and a coffee shop.

He's been working on a plan for that and more.

Pinellas County commissioners agreed this fall to schedule a referendum in March to increase property taxes, in part to pay for an expansion of the library.

Soon, patrons might get more than just umbrellas.

[Last modified January 2, 2006, 02:30:25]

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