Coral Gables Library today
The Coral Gables Branch Library, one of 49 branches of the Miami-Dade Public Library System, is designed to meet the educational, recreational and cultural needs of patrons of all ages. With a wide variety of resources and materials to lend, including books, DVDs, audio-books, CDs, and an online presence, patrons can access their favorite materials in person or digitally. With a Miami-Dade Public Library System library card patrons can access nearly four million items including many years of full-text newspaper and magazine articles, e-books, career and test preparation resources, business directories, investment information, interactive storytelling, and vast resources for homework or general research and much more!
The Coral Gables Branch Library is a resource that meets many community needs – it’s a place where patrons can interact with neighbors, read, study, use 36 public computers or access free WiFi. Every day patrons participate in a number of special programs, including the early literacy initiative Reading Ready Storytimes, teen gaming, book clubs, musical and cultural performances, educational and learning workshops, and a once-a-month service to renew your drivers license or vehicle registration.
The Coral Gables Branch Library contains a number of interesting and historic art and artifacts, including the beautiful 15 ft Coral Gables glazed ceramic tile mural by artist Kay Pancoast, a collection of oil paintings -- and even the original Raggedy Ann & Andy dolls owned by author Johnny Gruelle. View the collection here (PDF), which was updated by Jane Maranos, Library Advisory Board Vice Chair.
The Coral Gables Branch Library is located at 3443 Segovia Street in Coral Gables.
Operating hours are:
Monday, Friday-Sunday: 10 am. to 6 p.m.
Tuesday & Wednesday: Noon to 8 p.m.
For more information, visit www.mdpls.org or call 305-442-8706.
HISTORY OF THE CORAL GABLES LIBRARY
The origin of the Coral Gables Library dates back to 1927 when the Woman’s Club of Coral Gables established a lending library and reading room for the newly incorporated city. George Merrick, the visionary behind the development of Coral Gables, “The City Beautiful” and one of America’s first planned communities, included a library in his conceptual plans for the City. Merrick gave the Woman’s Club permission to use the Cathedral Room of the La Puerta Del Sol, now the Douglas Entrance, for the Library’s location. Merrick also contributed furniture, fine art and tapestries to the Library.
Douglas entrance, 1920s. (Photo Courtesy of FloridaMemory.com)
Charter members of the Woman’s Club, included Mrs. Solomon (Althea) Merrick, Mrs. George Merrick, Mrs. H. George Fink, Mrs. Fredrick Wardlaw and Mrs. Don Peabody who is credited with spearheading the Library effort. Club members obtained the donation of the first 300 books by writing letters to the authors requesting copies. Other donations were received including 100 books from the private library of William Jennings Bryan.
The Library grew in number of volumes and in popularity, causing the need for more space. During the Great Depression, the national Works Projects Administration operated projects in cooperation with state and local governments throughout the country. Of the 17 projects approved for Coral Gables, a library and community building built on land donated by the City was completed in 1937. The coral rock building at 1001 East Ponce de Leon Boulevard was the Library’s location for more than 30 years. The building also housed the Woman’s Club which operated the Library until 1953 when the City took over its management. The building was deeded to the Woman’s Club by the City in 1950 and is still in use by that organization today.
Coral Gables Women's Club Today
By the 1960s, the library had grown to 51,000 books and again needed more space. Many in the community advocated a new, dedicated building for a modern library. To this purpose and after many sites were rejected, the City purchased land located at University Drive and Segovia Street from the University of Miami. The building, dedicated March 23, 1969, was designed by architects Edward Rempe and Wray G. Succop.
The contemporary 1960s building has integrating features from the Mediterranean Revival style including quarried keystone from the Florida Keys, red clay roof tiles, Spanish clay floor tiles, wrought iron light fixtures and Honduran mahogany doors. The main reading room has 15 foot high ceilings with exposed wood beams. The building also contains a 15x9 foot glazed ceramic tile mural created by artist Katherine French Pancoast in 1970. The colorful mural, located in the Margaret M. Beaton Meeting Room, depicts local historic landmarks such as Coral Gables City Hall and the Biltmore Hotel, scenic locations, and native flora and fauna. The Library grounds contain walkways and gardens, including a tropical butterfly garden, and fountains at each of the two public entrances to the building.
In 2000, a substantial renovation of the original garden was designed and implemented by the City of Coral Gables with generous financial and technical assistance of the Coral Gables Garden Club. The Garden Club was particularly instrumental in the development of the butterfly garden area on the grounds and the Club continues to provide assistance with its maintenance. A butterfly sculpture donated by the Garden Club and commemorating the participation of the Club in this endeavor can be found in the lobby of the Library.
In 1966, the decision was made by the City Commission to join the Dade County library system. The City of Coral Gables ceased to be a municipal library but retaines ownership of the land and building along with some original collections, artwork, furniture and other materials. The County provides staff, services and management. The Miami-Dade County Public Library System continues today as the management entity for the Coral Gables Branch Library. Coral Gables residents receive many benefits from the larger system’s resources and the Library is open to all.
A garden room at the Library
Established when the Library joined the County system and in compliance with the State Standards for Florida Public Libraries, the Coral Gables Branch Library has a citizen Advisory Board to oversee the relationship between the City and the Miami-Dade Public Library System. The Advisory Board consults with the City and Miami-Dade County in areas such as publications and publicity, maintenance, protection of the Library’s historical resources and special events. The Board also works to involve local community organizations in special projects to protect and improve the Library.
Coral Gables Library Entrance
At the request of the Library Advisory Board, the Library and the Pancoast mural within was designated a Coral Gables Historic Landmark by the Coral Gables Historic Preservation Board on May 20, 2010.