Drive through, check out and log on

The Platt library has a popular drive-up window and draws big numbers as an early voting site.

Published April 20, 2007

Mike Gentry visits the Jan Kaminis Platt Regional Library a few times a week to check out books and CDs, but often doesn't go inside the building.

He doesn't have to - he uses the library's drive-through window.

Users can call ahead, request materials and simply drive through and pick them up without getting out of their cars.

Last month, 1,557 cars passed through the window, according Clarice Ruder, the library's branch supervisor. It's the only library drive-up in Tampa. The Jimmie B. Keel library, outside the city limits in Carrollwood, has a drive-up as well.

The drive-up seems to be just one reason why the Platt library, which opened on Manhattan Avenue in December 2000, has become a hub of activity for people in South Tampa.

A recent service that was added to the library's plate made it an early voting location. The numbers speak to the library's popularity: Almost half of the early vote tallies during the municipal runoff election in March - 1,803 of 3,869 total votes - were cast here. The next highest voting location in College Hill tallied 463 votes.

Richard Davidson voted at the Platt library, and said he prefers it to the other libraries in the area because of it has a larger selection of materials.

Lucy McNamee also used the library to vote. She said she likes it because of the book selection, helpful staff, quick Internet connection and convenient location.

When visitors enter the library, high ceilings, colorful art and cool, green walls welcome them. To the left, there is a "Just for Kids" area, with kids-sized bookshelves, tables and chairs. Twenty-four computers with high-speed Internet access form a semicircle in the middle of the room.

"We have an excellent collection; we have a lovely atmosphere, wonderful art ... It's well designed," said Ruder. "We have higher ceilings, so when you walk in there's just an openness. This is the first library in our system that used colored paint on the walls."

The reason people use libraries is changing. Not too long ago, books were the first priority. Now, people want to check out CDs, DVDs, videos and other electronic resources.

"Now we have a whole clientele who want visual things ... many of them never check out a book." Ruder said. "People use libraries in so many different ways because we have so many different services."

The Platt library offers a variety of community programs. Using a room converted from the former library caf, volunteers teach adults how to read. They also teach everything from computer classes for the elderly to bedtime stories for babies to master gardening classes for adults.

Many families are apparently taking advantage of all the library has to offer.

Oxana Summers visits the Platt library with her 9-year-old daughter, Amber, almost daily.

Amber begs to be taken there because she loves to play on the educational programs provided on the library's computers. Summers says she is happy for a safe place to bring her daughter that contributes to her growth.

Jessica Hartman can be reached at jhartman@sptimes.com or (813)226-3434.

Fast Facts:


By window or door

The Platt library is at 3910 S Manhattan Ave. Call (813) 273-3652 for hours and program information.