New Port Richey Library as Community Memory
The New Port Richey (NPR) Library has served as a cornerstone for the area’s Community Memory since before the City of New Port Richey was incorporated.
Thanks in part to the goals of its founder, Dr. Elroy McKendree Avery, the library has always embraced the preservation of local history. A well-known author, Dr. Avery:
- Founded the Avery Library and Historical Society (now the New Port Richey Library) on December 22, 1919.
- Donated his personal library as the starting collection.
- Put out a compilation of local history, “The Genesis of New Port Richey,” as a library publication in 1924.
- Encouraged growth of the library’s collection, which now includes many historical and genealogical resources, such as newspapers and scrapbooks.
From its earliest days, the library has had a reciprocal relationship with the community. Notably:
- The Library Associates, now known as the Friends of the NPR Library, founded the Chasco Fiesta in 1922 to support the new library.
- The Chasco Fiesta has grown from a boat parade and pageant into a major event spanning more than a week and drawing about 100,000 attendees.
- Today, the Chasco Fiesta supports many non-profits in New Port Richey.
- NPR Library’s head librarian, Janet Lewis, lent public and financial support when citizens banded together in the early 1970s to found the West Pasco Historical Society.
On December 22, 2014, the New Port Richey Library celebrated its 95th anniversary. At this celebration:
- Local historian Jeff Miller spoke on the history of the library and showed historical pictures.
- State Representative and Tax Collector Mike Fasano gave the keynote speech on the importance of the library to the community.
- Mayor Rob Marlowe, serving as the Master of Ceremonies, read his own city proclamation and a letter from U.S. Senator Bill Nelson.
- Legislative aide Judy Parker read a resolution by State Senator Wilton Simpson.
- Library Advisory Board Chair Kelly Hackman and Friends of the NPR Library President Liz Harth addressed the assembly.
- City Manager Debbie Manns and Library Director Susan Dillinger spoke to the assembly.
NPR Library, which has been named a 4-star library by Library Journal, has had many achievements in its long history. A founding member of the Florida Library Association, it was:
- The first Florida Library Association Library of the Year.
- The first organic, non-GMO seed lending library in the state.
- One of the original members of the Tampa Bay Library Consortium SUNLINE database.
The library also has a 99 percent retention rate for its multi-county literacy program, Reading for Life, which matches 188 students with 165 tutors.
Plans are underway now for the 100-year celebration of New Port Richey Library's service to its community.