State Librarian, 1971
Cecil Beach’s career spanned from the 1940s, to well into the 21st century, during which time he helped change the way libraries serve their communities and interact with other educational and cultural institutions.
He was one of the first men to graduate from Florida State University’s College of Information Studies, and, as an important part of the growing civil rights movement, fought to integrate library services as a library director in Alabama in 1960.
In 1965, Cecil moved to Tampa, Florida, where he continued his work helping to integrate library services. During his time in Tampa, he oversaw replacing the outdated main library with a state-of-the-art facility and added 10 new branch buildings to the growing metropolitan area.
In 1970, Cecil served as the fourth president of the Florida Library Association, and in 1971, he began his tenure as State Librarian in Tallahassee, designing and overseeing construction of the new State Library building. To this day, the R.A. Gray Building he helped design houses the State Library and State Archives.
During his time as State Librarian, state aid for Florida libraries grew significantly, as did the number of counties eligible to receive these funds, and the State Library created a new interlibrary loan service.
In 1977, Cecil became the head of the Broward County library system. He secured funds to build a new flagship library and 18 new branches. The nine-story main library building was dedicated in 1984 and received awards for excellence from the American Institute for Architects and American Library Association in 1987.
In 1992, at the age of 65, Cecil retired to Tallahassee and began teaching Library Administration classes at his alma mater, FSU. He returned to Broward County seven years later, where he worked to develop projects and write grants for over 30 building projects until his ultimate retirement at the age of 82.
Cecil received, among many other accolades, the Lifetime Achievement award from the Florida Library Association, and a scholarship fund in Cecil’s name remains active for students of Florida State University’s School of Information.
We would like to thank Kevin Beach, Cecil's son, for sharing the article he wrote after interviewing his father in 2009.