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Posted on: May 26, 2023

Celebrating 75 Years of the Boca Raton Public Library

Boca Raton Library celebrates 75th anniversary

Celebrating 75 Years of the Boca Raton Public Library
After Closures Due to the 1920’s Real Estate Bust and 1947 Hurricanes

Boca Raton, FL – This May marks the 75th anniversary of continuous service from the Boca Raton Public Library. The City’s Library has grown from a small space in the City’s Municipal Building in 1948 to two locations – the Spanish River and Downtown Public Libraries. The original founding of the Library was the result of dedicated community-builders and took 25 years to fully realize. In recognition of the anniversary, the Boca Raton Public Library is inviting the community to share pictures of their time at the libraries over the years.

A Look Back at the Boca Raton Public Library

  • The first public library was actually started in 1923, by the Women’s Club of Boca Raton, and housed in the City’s Municipal Building. Many books in this first collection came from a large donation of fiction books coordinated by a Women’s Club member through her friends in Chicago. Due to Florida’s real estate bust in the late 1920’s, this first library closed.
     
  • In 1946, another public library was opened in the City by the Women’s Christian and Civic Club in the Administration Building on the Boca Raton Army Air Field base through monetary and book donations. This library closed in 1947 after the City was hit with two hurricanes. 
     
  • Eleanor Bebout, a previous library secretary, became a Library Board President in 1948 and moved what books remained from the Army Base library, back to a location at the City’s Municipal Building in 1948. That year, the official Library of Boca Raton was founded.
     
  • The City built and opened the first library building in 1961 at 200 NW 2nd Avenue, where the City’s Building Department is housed today. In 1966, the Library of Boca Raton was renamed the Boca Raton Public Library.
     
  • As the library grew, a wing to the building was added in 1972 and a second expansion was added in 1982. In 1989, the City Council approved a 10-year plan that included a new library branch in the northwest corner of the City. The Friends of the Library campaigned for two new library buildings, and in 2003, Boca Raton residents voted in favor of a $19.8 million bond to build two new libraries. 
     
  • On January 26, 2008, the new Spanish River Library branch opened. On June 22, 2013, the new Downtown Library opened just up the street from its original location.  

Today, the Boca Raton Public Library offers over 1.6 million items to check out, more than 1,700 youth and adult programs a year, information and technology assistance, and wonderful spaces for study, work, and collaboration at both locations. 

“The Boca Raton Public Library has served the community for 75 years with popular collections, engaging storytimes and children’s programs, and learning classes and events for adults. Over 470,000 library users a year enjoy an innovative library collection that also includes nontraditional items such as hotspots, puzzles, cake pans, and musical instruments and over a million ebooks, audiobooks, streaming videos, and downloadable music,” commented Ellen Randolph, Manager of Library Services for the City of Boca Raton. “Our library spaces are also welcoming hubs for civic engagement and public information, where we host elections, town halls, homeowner association meetings, sustainability programs, and more. Visitors can find quiet places to read or work, book recommendations and tech training from friendly staff, and wonderful children’s areas to explore.”

Call for Photos! Do you have any historical photos of the library (inside or outside) taken during the past 75 years? Help the Boca Raton Public Library celebrate its 75th anniversary with your favorite library memories. Share your photos on social media with the hashtag #BocaLibrary75 or email them to the library at: brpl@myboca.us. The library will feature the photos on its social media pages and add them to the archives. 

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Photo courtesy of the Boca Raton Historical Society

For Immediate Release
Ileana Olmsted, Public Relations Specialist
iolmsted@myboca.us | p:561-393-7788

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