October 2022


If you didn’t know this already, October is “Breast Cancer Awareness Month”. Through the participation of many individuals, groups, organizations and companies, this important issue has raised tremendous awareness… all lovingly in Pink.  Once again, your Palm Harbor Library is no exception.

As one of the educational destinations in Palm Harbor, we too felt an obligation to do what we could to combat this dreadful disease. Here are some of the activities we have planned throughout the month:

          – All staff members will be wearing Pink name badges

          – All library video signs will be highlighted in Pink   

          – All staff and volunteers are encouraged to dress pinkish on Wednesdays

          – The backgrounds on the public PC’s will be in pink.

          – Pink donation buckets will be displayed throughout the library (all proceeds will be donated to the American Cancer Society)

          – And other pink initiatives!

Public libraries play crucial roles in supporting their communities by providing easy access to educational material, participating in community-wide endeavors and generally bettering the greater community good. Palm Harbor Library in particular serves as a voting site, provides the holiday Giving Tree for Clothes to Kids, is a collection center for FEAST as well as for pet food donations. Perhaps as importantly it serves as a venue for civic engagement.

“Breast Cancer Awareness Month” is just another way the library supports its neighbors. 

Remember in October, think Pink!

“You. Us. Together.”


Gene P. Coppola, Library Director Palm Harbor Library


September 2022

Picture of Ticket to Magical Evening Event

“You’re Invited!”

Saturday October 8th from 7 to 9 pm, the Palm Harbor Library Endowment Foundation will be holding its third annual fundraising event, “A Magical Evening”. It will be a night of live entertainment, mind blowing magicians, food and drinks and of course, plenty of surprises. Craft beer will be supplied by local brew maker, Stilt House Brewery! The location will be at the library however, the setting will be nothing like you have ever seen before. Tickets are $25 per person, $45 per couple or $30 per person and $50 per couple at the door. 21 and over please.

The Palm Harbor Library Endowment Foundation has long been a supporting arm of the library, generously financing several capital projects. It is through their efforts over the years, the following has been accomplished:

-Contributed $100,000 to the 2008 Building Remodeling Project
-Expanded the parking lot on the east side of the library property
-Installed a new office for the Literacy Council
-Installed two new study rooms
-Installed a new road sign
-Contributed $21,000 to the Yoffredo Activity Center
-Contributed $46,500 for a new off-site Library Media Box Machine
-And most recently, provided over $48,000 for a new sound system

As you can see, the Foundation has done so much for the library, largely making it the facility you see today. But wait!  They are not finished yet! This year’s fundraiser will help the library’s “LED Retrofit Project”. Estimated cost will be $45,000. Why do we need LEDs? The environment, safety and cost are the three reasons for acquiring LED lights in your library. LED lights do not give off heat unlike traditional light bulbs. This will keep the library building safer with reduced fire hazard. These lights also use less power and are replaced less frequently. That’s why they fit in so well with PHL’s support of the environment. Lastly, these lights have a dramatic effect on the electric bill. Being able to cut back on a utility cost will allow the library to improve services in other areas.

Although “A Magical Evening” will be a night of enchantment and mysticism filled with thrills and chills, it will also be an enjoyable way to support this much needed improvement for your library that would otherwise go unattended for quite a while.

Come for the magic, and be amazed what your contribution can conjure up at your Palm Harbor Library.

“You. Us. Together.”


Gene P. Coppola, Library Director Palm Harbor Library


August 2022

“Dog Days of Summer …with Jane”

Man, it is hot and it ain’t going to get cooler anytime soon. I walk out and I start to sweat. The car AC can’t come on fast enough. I feel like I’m slowing down when I take just a few steps. I’m becoming irritable and rapidly losing my sunny disposition. (No pun intended here.) Maybe I’ll stay inside and thank the gods for Mr. Carrier. While I’m in, maybe I’ll clean the house. Ah, no. I could watch TV but I’m afraid I’m evolving into a vegetable head. Well, there’s another choice. Perchance, a book? Yea, why not?

So, each year with my regular book club, I always pick at least one classic. Not “Mockingbird” classic (although that’s a pretty good one) but more from the 19th century. Authors like Dickens, Twain and the sisters Bronte. You can easily read anything contemporary but as we move ahead with what’s hot today, the old tomes get pushed further back on the shelves. Yea, they’re a bit tougher to read but there’s some great stuff out there! There’s a reason they’re a classic. They’re timeless. And you know that saying, the more things change, the more they stay the same and Ms. Jane Austen certainly fits the bill.

Austen passed away in 1816 and yet, all of her books are still in print and they keep making rom-com movies of her novels. If I didn’t know any better, Keira Knightly was in all of them! There’s the middle to upper class young heroine who is either searching or lost and/or found her perfect match, family obstacles galore, always long walks (these characters are always walking somewhere; I guess there wasn’t much else to do then) and of course the inevitable nightly parties! It’s like on every other page, someone in the village is hosting a gathering/social event/celebration/and yes, a party. And of course, the best part in every Austen book is that everything works out well. All good endings.

But Jane Austen is so much more than that!

This year for my classic pick, I chose Persuasion. It’s Austen’s last book (published posthumously) and perhaps, according to most critics, her most mature. Although the main theme is a second chance at love, it takes a closer look at class structure and women’s role in early 19th century England.

The story centers on Anne, the middle of three sisters, daughters of Sir (obnoxious) Walter who is a spendthrift and now has to move the family to smaller accommodations at Bath so that their ancestral home, Kellynch Hall may be leased out for income. Elder sister Elizabeth is unmarried, nasty (just like pops) and the favorite daughter, younger sister Mary, married and a narcissistic hypochondriac (what a combination!) and Anne, level-headed but spinsterish at 27. But Anne didn’t need to be! Oh no. She had a chance at 19 to be married to naval officer Frederick Wentworth but alas, her dad and supposedly good guardian Lady Russell persuaded Anne to stay away because Fred had no prospects, poor and a lowly sailor. Eight years later, Fred shows up in town, a Captain, rich and still looking good. The minuet dance of romance between them slowly re-emerges through planned and unplanned walks (You see!) in the nearby countryside, through various social events at Uppercross Hall and Bath and through letters that are frustratingly oblique until finally Fred unfurls his true colors and Anne at last can reclaim her long-lost love. A true Austen ending!


Beneath this façade of triumphant love, Austen really shines with her shrewd commentary on everyday life in pre-Victorian England. The gentry’s condescending view of His Majesty’s naval personnel, the malicious gossiping of those in the know, the ill-intended manipulations of the well-bred, that women (with rare exceptions) are best at tending hearth and home.

These summer days became a bit more bearable when Jane swept me away to cooler England. It’s a world unlike our own but in some respects, after 200 years, how much has really changed?

PS: I’ve decided to do Jane Eyre next year. I think it is time to reassess Rochester…he has a lot of issues. 

“You. Us. Together.”


Gene P. Coppola, Library Director Palm Harbor Library


July 2022

“Hey, it’s Baseball Season!”

For this column I am going to be a librarian, nothing heavy, just fun. And don’t we need more of that?!

Baseball has always been my favorite sport. When I was growing up in Whitestone, Queens, NY, I played for the “Whitestone Delis” and even though I looked pretty cool in my white and red uniform, snug fit hat and a brand new glove, I was a disaster in left field. And center. And right. For some reason, the bench kept calling my name. Actually, my dream growing up was to play center field for the Bronx Bombers but…that didn’t happen. Somehow I made that inexplicable transition from potential sport superstar to librarian-at-large.

Go figure.

But in this secondary career I did pick up a few tips on books especially books on baseball. There are some great ones out there…and some lousy ones. Although the season is long, there doesn’t seem to be much time to read with so many summer options on hand so with that said, let me give you some of my favorite baseball books that anyone would enjoy regardless if you’re sitting by the Green Monster, the Trop, the short porch, by the bay or if you’re still hanging out near Ebbets Field.

Play ball!

  • The Boys of Summer by Roger Kahn – A true classic of the boys in blue, the Brooklyn Dodgers.
  • The Glory of Their Times: The Story of the Early Days of Baseball Told by the Men Who Played It by Lawrence S Ritter – Another great classic. Truly, the golden era of baseball.
  • Eight Men Out: The Black Sox and the 1919 World Series by Eliot Asinof and Stephen Jay Gould – The scandal that rocked the nation and ushered in that famous quote, “Say it ain’t so Joe”.
  • Baseball’s Golden Age: The Photographs of Charles M. Conlon by Neal McCabe and Constance McCabe – Fantastic photos!
  • John McGraw by Charles C. Alexander – Perhaps the greatest manager of the NY Giants.
  • Babe: The Legend Comes to Life by Robert Creamer – In all his glory.
  • I Never Had It Made: An Autobiography of Jackie Robinson – What a guy. What a ballplayer!
  • Crazy ’08: How a Cast of Cranks, Rogues, Boneheads, and Magnates Created the Greatest Year in Baseball History by Cait Murphy. And what a year it was!

“You. Us. Together.”


Gene P. Coppola, Library Director Palm Harbor Library


June 2022

“I Hate this New Normal”

I was struggling about what to write this month. After nearly 22 years you start running out of ideas and then I hear/read about what happened in Texas. Shock. Numbness. OMG. Not again. They’re just babies. Why? Why?

I don’t know why but what I do know is that Texas can be anywhere. Even in beautiful, serene, lovely Palm Harbor. And in Palm Harbor I happen to take special note of its library. Your library.

One of the credos of public libraries is that it is a safe and secure environment where everyone is welcomed and all are treated fairly and with respect. So after Texas, I looked around your facility to see if we’re living up to that highfalutin credo of safety and this is what I found:

-exterior and interior cameras are operational 24/7
-ceiling mirrors strategically positioned
-improved site lines
-landscaping trimmed back and in some instances removed
-ongoing staff safety training
-security procedures developed and employed
-a thorough “Patron Conduct Policy”
-a permanent staff Safety/Security Committee

I’ve always had the problem of walking the fine line between implementing security measures and providing open access. Where do you draw the line between feeling you’re in a prison…or being in a public library? It’s tough. There’s no simple answer and at times the line wavers a bit. And then of course there’s the budget. How many books should I give up to buy that additional camera?  Yea, it’s tough.

Regardless, keep in mind your peace of mind is on my mind. It’s nice to offer all kinds of educational and recreational services but your security is #1.

How I hate this new normal.  

“You. Us. Together.”


Gene P. Coppola, Library Director Palm Harbor Library


May 2022

“New Vision, New Mission”

Any organization worth its salt should have a goal, an objective, a reason to exist because if not, why bother? Whether it’s to make money, cure cancer or just be the happiest place on earth, we are all striving for something and your Palm Harbor Library is no different.

Case in point, we have a new Vision and Mission statement. I was told a long time ago a Vision Statement should fit on the front of a t-shirt. Here it is: “You. Us. Together.” Simple but saying a lot. It’s not that you’re on one side of the counter and we’re on the other. It’s more of a, it takes two to tango thing. Together. We on the staff may have all these great ideas about how to make the library a better place but you may have a lot of great ideas too! More on that later. 

So here’s our Mission Statement:

“Palm Harbor Library aspires to be the definitive educational and cultural destination for all members of the Palm Harbor community. It will offer a safe and secure environment, and serve as a neutral venue while providing easy access to information. The library will be an essential part of the community, acting as an anchor for learning, promoting, and supporting the arts and meeting the evolving needs of its residents.”

Now we’re saying a lot here too but with a little more mustard on it. It may all sound fancy with a twist of good PR jargon but public libraries are a bit more than just a place for books and kids. In this wacky world of ours, we offer a safe haven to learn, have fun, be alone, be a nerd, and be yourself. And while others may drift here and there, your library is a community anchor. We’ve been around 44 years and counting and we’re not going anywhere for a long, long time. Parents today were the kids we served yesterday and some of our current volunteers were those parents. I love this generational evolution!

Now it’s time to do our triennial public survey. This is when you tell us (as former NY Mayor Koch used to ask), how we’re doing. It is partly how we’ve crafted our new statements. As a matter of fact, if you never noticed them before, we have three banners hanging outside on the northside of the building quoting respondents from our previous survey. They are quite diverse and the banners are rotated out quarterly. As before, the survey will soon be made available to our newsletter subscribers (about 1,000!) and via our website Please join the conversation.   

In some baseball circles, there’s a story that goes something like this: “Some people make things happen. Some people watch things happen. And then there are those who wonder, ‘What the heck just happened?!’” I like to think you and I are making things happen.

Palm Harbor Library is a non-profit organization that doesn’t solve medical issues but at times may bring a bit of joy into your life. Our goal, our objective is to support whoever, whatever you are.  

“You. Us. Together.”


Gene P. Coppola, Library Director Palm Harbor Library


April 2022

“National Volunteer Week” April 17-23, 2022

There are a lot of things I love about April. I love hearing “Play ball!” on opening day; feeling those wonderful low-humid breezes on my face, promoting what libraries do during “National Library Week” and maybe making the world a bit greener on “Earth Day”. Perhaps though, “National Volunteer Week” is a bit more special. 

When Palm Harbor Library (PHL) first opened its doors on April 1, 1978, it began a tradition that still exists today; a primarily volunteer-run operation. Oh sure we have a paid staff however the array of services we offer would not be possible without our volunteers. And what makes our library so unique compared to all the others out there is that since we are located in an unincorporated area of the county, the library has never been operated by a city or county government. It began in a volunteer’s house in the 70s, it was volunteers who championed the legislation to create a special taxing district to support the library and it was they who also sought the funds to build the current building.  The volunteers had to depend upon themselves to do it all. Somehow throughout the years, between the volunteers and the staff, we have been able to provide good quality library services for the 59,000+ members of our community. 

And the volunteering doesn’t stop there. Since we are not under the auspices of a city or county government, who actually runs the library? Who is ultimately in charge of how the facility works? Although as Director I take the most high-profile lead in what gets done, the most significant projects and the primary directions of the library actually all come from the library support groups made up strictly of volunteers. We have our Friends of the Library, Pam Harbor Library Endowment Foundation, Palm Harbor Literacy Council, the Advisory Council, and ultimately the Palm Harbor Community Services Agency which oversees the operations of CSA Palm Harbor, East Lake Community Library, East Lake Recreation, and of course, us.

To honor these wonderful people who can easily volunteer elsewhere, the staff once again will be hosting its annual “Volunteer Breakfast” by serving them breakfast, putting on a show, hand out awards and simply taking the time to say, “thank you”.

Yes, we could possibly keep the library building open with just the staff but that would be it, just keeping it open. The volunteers are the ones who make it a library.

Play ball!    


Gene P. Coppola, Library Director Palm Harbor Library


March 2022

“Down Memory Lane” (and through the bookshelves, past the check-out desk, and over the retention pond.)

And yes! For those who remember, at one time we had a retention pond on our property. It was located at the north end of the parking lot. We got a break when another one was created across the street so there was no further use for ours. We then filled it in, planted some grass, and voila! We had more parking! Years later it was asphalted as you see it today and the rest is history.

That’s what this column is all about.

Believe it or not, come June this year, I will have been here 22 years! That’s a lot of mileage and a bunch of memories. Much of what we take for granted today wasn’t always here. Sure, the drive-thru, the canopy, the carpeting are all new additions but did you know we had a beautiful butterfly garden in the southeast area of the property? That’s where we now have our circular driveway and sheds. And by the way, did you ever notice the sheds’ names?  I won’t keep you in suspense. The east-side one is “Shedgar Allen Poe” and the west-side one is “West Shed Story”. I know, a bit cutesy but, hey, what the heck!

Our current road sign is pretty cool with all the graphics and colors but I kinda miss the old one. The original was the type you had to do manually. Each time I went out there I had to bring a key to unlock it, a stick to hold up the plastic sides that covered the sign, and a box of plastic letters that had to be inserted to create the message. You would think I would know my spelling but how many times after I put the letters in, one would be missing! Meanwhile, that stick I brought served a dual purpose. It also helped me to fend off the occasional snake. As a matter of fact, that became part of my usual procedure. Before I even attempted to change the sign, I had to clear the area of unwanted critters. I really miss those days.

The Yoffredo Activity Center has been a huge success for many reasons but perhaps its most visible achievement is the Friends of the Library Bookstore. It’s bright, colorful, and accessible with lots to offer. But for those of us who yearn for yesteryear, if you want to revisit where the bookstore was once located, all you do is go by the fish tank, past the current “New Book Section”, towards the back of the book range near the Emergency Exit Door, and that’s where you would find the Friends Bookstore. Well, you had to start somewhere! 

But I guess what I really miss is the battleship gray coloring of the outside of the building and all the tans/beiges/browns within. Now I know some of you may have that nostalgic feeling for colorless surroundings but time does march on and adjustments have to be made. Similar to when we had the Check-out Desk on one side and the Registration Desk on the other side (currently the Art Alcove) by the front entrance. Boy, that played great with confusion sending a library member back and forth between desks. NOT an example of excellent customer service.

If memories can serve any other purpose other than reminiscing about the good old days, it’s a reminder to appreciate where we came from and how we got where we are today. Sometimes I feel those 22 years but when I look around me and see all that we have accomplished, it’s been worth it.   


Gene P. Coppola, Library Director Palm Harbor Library


February 2022

“Libraries are Good for Our Country”

Over the past few years, I have written how your Palm Harbor Library has serviced the community in several ways. Some of these areas include employment assistance, cultural activities, teen programming, deaf literacy training, business resources, IT support, and children’s activities to name a few. But what drives a library and determines its mission is far more than what you would expect. 

I recently came across an article by Leonard Kniffel in American Libraries magazine (December 2010) where he reminds us how libraries are good for our country, where they are anchors of hope. In light of the many uncertainties we all currently face, it is good to know that library values have not changed in the past 12 years are still very much relevant today. Here are 12 of them:  

1. Libraries sustain democracy.

Libraries provide access to information and multiple points of view so that people can make knowledgeable decisions on public policy throughout their lives. With their collections, programs, and professional expertise, librarians help their patrons identify accurate and authoritative data and use information resources wisely to stay informed. The public library is the only institution in American society whose purpose is to guard against the tyrannies of ignorance and conformity.

2. Libraries break down boundaries.

Libraries of various kinds offer services and programs for people at all literacy levels, readers with little or no English skills, preschoolers, students, homebound senior citizens, prisoners, homeless or impoverished individuals, and persons with physical or learning disabilities. Libraries rid us of fences that obstruct our vision and our ability to communicate and to educate ourselves.

3. Libraries level the playing field.

By making access to information resources and technology available to all, regardless of income, class, or background, a public library levels the playing field and helps close the gap between the rich and the poor. Libraries unite people and make their resources available to everyone in the community, regardless of social status. There are more public libraries than McDonald’s restaurants in the United States.

4. Libraries value the individual.

Libraries offer choices between mainstream and alternative viewpoints, between traditional and visionary concepts, and between monocultural and multicultural perspectives. Library doors swing open for independent thinking without prejudgment. Library collections and services offer the historical global, cultural, and political perspective that is necessary to foster a spirit of exploration that challenges orthodoxy and conformity.

5. Libraries nourish creativity.

By providing an atmosphere that stimulates curiosity, libraries create opportunities for unstructured learning and serendipitous discovery. As repositories not only of books but of images and a wide variety of media, libraries offer access to the accumulated record of mankind with assistance from professional staff delivering these resources through the physical library, the web, and outreach services.

6. Libraries open young minds.

Children’s and young adult librarians offer story hours, book talks, summer reading activities, career planning, art projects, gaming competitions, and other programs to spark youthful imaginations. Bringing children into a library can transport them from the commonplace to the extraordinary. From story hours for preschoolers to career planning for high schoolers, children’s librarians make a difference because they care about the unique developmental needs of every individual who comes to them for help.

7. Libraries return high dividends.

Libraries offer big returns to the communities they serve—$8.32 in services for every $1 invested in them. (Per the last R.O.I in 2013, it was $10.18.) Strong public and school libraries make a city or town more desirable as a business location. Americans check out an average of more than seven books a year from public libraries, and it costs them roughly $34 in taxes—about the cost of a single hardcover book.

8. Libraries build communities.

People gather at the library to find and share information, experience, and experiment with the arts and media, and engage in community discussions and games. No narrow definition will work for libraries. There is the community of scholars, the deaf community, the gay community, the gaming community, and countless others, each with its libraries and specialized collections. Libraries validate and unify; they save lives, literally and by preserving the record of those lives.

9. Libraries support families.

Libraries offer an alternate venue for parents and their children to enhance activities traditionally conducted at home by providing homework centers, parenting collections, after-school programs, outreach, one-on-one reading, and early literacy programs. Like the families they serve, libraries everywhere are adapting to meet the economic and social challenges of the 21st century. In libraries, families find professionals dedicated to keeping their services family-friendly by offering a diverse selection of materials to which people of many backgrounds can relate.

10. Libraries build technology skills.

Library services and programs foster critical-thinking skills and information literacy. Nearly 100% of American libraries offer internet access and assistance with problem-solving aptitude, scientific inquiry, cross-disciplinary thinking, media literacy, productivity and leadership skills, civic engagement, global awareness, and health and environmental awareness. Library patrons search for jobs online, polish résumés with word processing software, fill out applications, research new professions, sign up for career workshops, and look for financial assistance. Public libraries serve as technology hubs by offering a wide range of public access computing and internet access services at no charge to users.

11. Libraries offer sanctuary.

By providing an atmosphere conducive to reflection, libraries induce a feeling of serenity and transcendence that opens the mind to new ideas and interpretations. In the library, we are answerable to no one. We can be alone with our private thoughts, fantasies, hopes, and dreams, and we are free to nourish what is most precious to us with the silent companionship of others who share our quest. Libraries are places where computers and databases provide superior access to information and they offer an atmosphere of light and textures that beautiful architecture and design foster.

12. Libraries preserve the past.

Libraries are repositories of community history, oral narratives, and audiovisual records of events and culture, and when these local resources are digitized and placed online as digital libraries, communities and cultures thousands of miles away can share in the experience. Libraries and information science and technology enable us to communicate through distance and time with the living and the dead. A library is a miracle kept available by the meticulous resource description and access that is the work of the librarian. Libraries preserve the record and help their patrons make sense of it in the Information Age.

This is what your library does. This is our mission.


Gene P. Coppola, Library Director Palm Harbor Library


January 2022

 “An artPHL Evening 2022”

As you are probably aware by this time, the library has been holding several fundraising events to replace the lost revenue from collecting fines. The library went fine-free as of October 1, 2021. The estimated loss is over $20,000.

We have done several fundraisers however our signature event will be our fifth annual:


This day of art is on Friday evening, January 28th, from 7 to 9 pm at the library. It will include ten local artists of various mediums presenting and demonstrating their work accompanied by a big, fat jazz band, a silent auction, finger foods, fine beverages, and more. Our featured artist is Julianne Black DiBlasi whose featured piece “Fusion Seahorse” certainly embodies the thematic coolness of the evening. More information can be found at Tickets are $15 each, $20 at the door. To get a preview of some of the artist’s works, stop by sometime in January at the John Brock Art Alcove, located to your left as soon as you enter the library.

In addition to this being a fundraising event, “An artPHL Evening 2022” also serves as part of the library’s continuing effort to become one of the cultural destinations in Palm Harbor. As you may have noticed during your visits to the library, we have an outside sculpture, an art alcove of juried artwork, a children’s art Makerspace, and an art book club, and an art story-time for children (the latter two at the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art). As for the performing arts, the library offers a musical instrument collection for loan and is currently having a discussion with The Florida Orchestra!

I have always believed that art and libraries are natural partners. One brings beauty to the world and the other, just like art museums help to preserve and promote it. You don’t have to go far to enjoy both. They are both right in your own backyard.


Gene P. Coppola, Library Director Palm Harbor Library


December 2021

“Looking at 2022…”

2021 may have been a bit rough for many of us and the light is still not appearing at the end of the tunnel, but based on what we’re planning for 2022, I got high hopes (Pollyanna or not) things will get a bit better.    

Your library kicks off the new year with FULL in-person programming which means, we’re back to 2019! All bets are off, come on in, book your room, attend that program, get involved! And you can start doing that with two fundraisers in January. The first is on Friday 1/7, 6-8 pm with “Guess that Song”! Eight tables of six people will be vying for a grand prize while identifying songs from the ’60s through the 2000s. The cost is $20 per person or $100 per table. All proceeds go to the library’s operating budget. Now if I can just remember who sang “Venus”. Was it “Shocking Blue”? I guess I’m showing my age. 

The second fundraiser is our beloved “ artPHL Evening”. It will have all you have come to expect with art, food, and that big fat band, the Voices of Jazz. It all rocks on Friday, January 28th. More info to come shortly.

In January, we will also resume our adopted Meals-on-Wheels route. This is merely one small part to expand our outreach to the Palm Harbor community. We are also looking at providing a mobile technology program as well as one for the arts.     

On April 1, we return to our annual Open House where we celebrate you, our supporters. And yes, the “Wine Toss” is coming back! How can we possibly hold such an event without it? 

Our “2022 Summer Reading Programs” for all ages is themed “Oceans of Possibilities”. What a great way to embrace 2022.

Our building enhancements are not slacking off either. We will be investigating re-flooring the Youth Services Department as well as completing a new paint job throughout the room. The end panels of our bookshelves in the Adult Services Department will soon sport a bright and beautiful look, and another eye-catching mural will soon come to life.

And no, I didn’t forget. Our Library Media Box that was vandalized earlier this year will be replaced in early 2022. Not sure when exactly since I suspect some of the parts are on a ship somewhere in the San Francisco Bay! 

There’s a lot more coming up but here’s a reminder of what we’re offering already and will continue to do so:

-Children’s MakerSpace
-Musical Instruments to borrow (including that cowbell!)
-Vinyl & Turntables
-Teen services
-Seed Library
-books, books, books, DVD’s, DVD’s, DVD’s
-online services
-Adaptive Toy Collection
-meeting rooms to reserve
-a truly kind and knowledgeable staff

There may still be some rough spots in ’22, (What year doesn’t have it?) but right now it’s looking a lot more hopeful, kind and enjoyable…at least at your local public library.


Gene P. Coppola, Library Director Palm Harbor Library


November 2021

“13th Annual Telethon!”

Many of you may not know this but fines for overdue material was Palm Harbor Library’s third largest annual revenue stream. On average between 2016 and 2020, $28,000 was collected yearly! It helped pay for all those glamorous items such as electricity, water, waste pickup, and janitorial services. We now have to dip into items such as books, IT maintenance, and programs to pay for these needed services so we can operate the building properly.

You see, it was decided throughout most of the County to eliminate these fines because it was perceived as a barrier to accessing material, and quite frankly, most libraries could afford the loss. We cannot. How this normally works is when an overdue fine is collected by a city or a county library, it is sent to a general fund then a small percentage is returned to the library. Since Palm Harbor Library resides in an unincorporated area, there is no city and although we occupy a county-owned facility, we are not part of the county, thus all fines are kept at PHL…or were.

So what do we do? Sit back and cry or do something about it?

Now let me take you back to the Labor Day weekends of your youth. Yes, for many of us it signaled the end of summer and the kick-off for the new school year. But there was also a special week-long event that became a tradition in my household and perhaps yours too. What else could I be talking about but the Jerry Lewis Telethon. Recently I started thinking we need to come up with an annual fundraising event that will help make up for some of the fine revenue loss. And ta-da!  The “13th Annual Telethon” was born! (Why the “13th” and not the “1st”? Well, it is being held on Saturday, November 13th. What else would you call it?)

The goal for this year’s Telethon is $10,000. If we can reach that goal, it will go a long way to keep the lights on. It is (not surprisingly) a 13-hour event from 9 am to 10 pm, streamed live on YouTube. You can access it through the library’s website at

Donations can be made on-line and in-person at the front desk or at the drive-thru window. ALSO, a $5 donation earns you one raffle ticket for one of thirteen gift baskets! Donations are being accepted NOW and through the Telethon weekend. They are all on display at the library and described here on our website.

So what can you expect to see over 13 hours? How about:

  • Cello Playing
  • Wine Tasting
  • Staff comedy bits
  • Hokey Pokey Music Video
  • DIY Christmas Craft
  • Horror Storytime
  • Fashion Trends with Barbie
  • Plarning with Maryjane
  • Painting for Novices
  • Tik-Toks
  • Cooking Programs

So if you have 13 hours to kill (or even one) and you want to support your library, tune in on the 13th for the first “13th Annual Telethon” and donate what you can. Let’s make Jerry proud!

Thank you.


Gene P. Coppola, Library Director Palm Harbor Library


October 2021


If you didn’t know this already, October is “Breast Cancer Awareness Month”. Through the participation of many individuals, groups, organizations, and companies, this important issue has raised tremendous awareness… all lovingly in Pink.  Once again, your Palm Harbor Library is no exception.

As one of the educational destinations in Palm Harbor, we too felt an obligation to do what we could to combat this dreadful disease. Here are some of the activities we have planned throughout the month:

– All staff members will be wearing Pink name badges

– All library video signs will be highlighted in Pink

– All staff and volunteers are encouraged to dress pinkish on Wednesdays

– The backgrounds on the public PCs will be in pink.

Pink donation buckets will be displayed throughout the library
– And other pink initiatives!

Public libraries play crucial roles in their communities by serving as venues for civic engagement. They provide easy accessibility to educational material; they support community-wide endeavors and participate in programs for the greater community good. Palm Harbor Library in particular serves as a voting site, provides the Holiday Giving Tree for Clothes to Kids, is a collection center for FEAST as well as for pet food donations.

“Breast Cancer Awareness Month” is just another way for the library to support its community neighbors.

Remember in October, think Pink!


Gene P. Coppola, Library Director Palm Harbor Library


September 2021

Library Card Sign-up Month…One of the Happiest Times of the Year!”

We librarians like to pick weeks and months out of the year to celebrate all kinds of library events. You got your “National Library Week” in April, “Children’s Book Week” in May, and “Banned Book Week” in September but perhaps my favorite also comes in the same month, “National Library Card Sign-Up Month”. As the American Library Association likes to say, it is a celebration held at the beginning of the new school year during which librarians across the country remind parents and caregivers that a library card is the most important school supply of all”. Well, it is but it’s also good for everyone else and you don’t have to be going to school to get one!

There is a lot a library card can do for you but in some ways, it also offers a lot of opportunities. So take a look below. You just may be surprised…

  1. Download an e-book.
  2. Use a computer for free!
  3. Free Wi-Fi.
  4. Pick up a DVD.
  5. Ask for a recommended reading list for your kids or for yourself.
  6. Save money while spending quality time: plan a family afternoon at a place that’s free – the library!
  7. Launch your future: Get free assistance with job searches.
  8. Check out materials to help study for a certification exam.
  9. Research your term paper.
  10. Investigate technical schools, community colleges, and universities.
  11. Book a meeting room for your club or organization
  12. Get involved – join your library’s Foundation, Friends, Literacy, or Teen group.
  13. Check out your favorite graphic novel.
  14. Review before you buy.
  15. Search out tips for building your retirement nest egg.
  16. Get new ideas for redecorating your house.
  17. Learn a new language with books or online.
  18. Broaden your world by checking out cookbooks of foods from other cultures.
  19. Borrow or download an audiobook for your next road trip or commute.
  20. See a new art exhibit.
  21. Enjoy a concert.
  22. Use free online tools to research your family tree.
  23. Empower yourself through home improvement: check out a book on learning how to fix that leaky faucet.
  24. Take Tai Chi class.
  25. Talk with people who like books at the library book club.
  26. Get growing! Attend a Master Gardner’s class.
  27. Borrow an adaptive toy for your special needs child.
  28. Check out a vinyl album and swing!
  29. See a foreign film.
  30. Volunteer at the library!
  31. Stream online for movies, comics, and TV shows.
  32. Check out a musical instrument!
  33. Borrow a STEAM Kit.
  34. Meet new friends.

Well, as you can see, you can use your card in more than one way. As a library member of Palm Harbor Library, you don’t have to wait for “National Library Week” to attend a gardening class nor wait for “Banned Book Week” to read To Kill a Mockingbird. No need to wait at all because here’s the best part, you can use your library card anytime!

Libraries have their special times of the year…but they are truly a year-long celebration.


Gene P. Coppola, Library Director Palm Harbor Library


August 2021

“Embracing Change: A Library Approach”

Way back in 2007 when I was attending a library conference, I picked up a handout entitled “Libraries Transform Communities”. It was slickly done in bold lime and navy blue, about a 48 point font size for the cover title, a page of bulleted tips for creating change, a Q&A, and tools I could use. It was a work of art. I glanced at it then walked on to the next scintillating library workshop. 

Fourteen years later I’m looking at what I should write for my next column and wouldn’t you know, here I come across that limey-looking brochure. Believe me, you can’t miss it. And maybe that’s the point. It’s filled with all kinds of quotes regarding change but two happen to strike me more than the others. This first one, not surprisingly, is from Charles Darwin. He said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change”. And that’s what this column is about.

Although this may be a time of uncertainty in our society, I see this as a time of opportunities and innovation. It’s not a time to be an island. It’s a time for creative and enduring partnerships. It is certainly not a time for a bunker mentality approach but rather one that envisions a dynamic future. So, what do we do and how do we get there?

Well, from a public library perspective, we first need to remember that our basic services include the free availability of recreation and research materials for all. That is one of the prime principles libraries will always embrace. But here’s the leap to the next level. Since it’s inevitable, how do we create the change we want instead of waiting for it to change us? My handy tips for creating change comes into play here and here’s what it says and here’s what your library is doing:

  1. “Think strategically and create a vision for the future”.  Palm Harbor Library has a three-year Strategic Plan in place. 
  2. “Step outside the box”. Palm Harbor Library is strongly involved with a community-wide non-profit organization called PHIN (Palm Harbor institutions of Non-profit). It is a way to explore how non-profits within Palm Harbor may be able to find ways to help each other.
  3. “Be willing to take risks.” Palm Harbor Library invested in two new lending library machines for after hour service one of which is located at CSA Palm Harbor. 
  4. “Build a culture that welcomes and rewards change”. Library staff is strongly supported here by library administration but of course, the other ingredient is what local residents wish to offer. Such ideas will certainly be gathered on an annual basis when community surveys are conducted and will be promoted on our outside banners as we currently do.  
  5.  “Raise the library’s profile”. Palm Harbor Library needs to be more of a player at the community table and by doing so will encourage better dialogue and understanding between community needs and relevant library services.

Now as for that other quote I liked so much, it comes from a well-known celebrity named Unknown. This person said, “Change is inevitable, except from vending machines”. 

Well, there you go. You can (almost) always count on change.


Gene P. Coppola, Library Director Palm Harbor Library


July 2021

“Big Dates!”

No, it’s not the type you had in high school or college but they could be as memorable.

The library annually celebrates all kinds of events throughout the year such as Black History Month in February, Women’s History Month in March, National Library Week in April, and National Library Card Sign-up Month in September. This year though we are adding a few special dates just for 2021. These are one of a kind that makes them just a bit more unique. So, let’s see what’s coming up this summer and fall.

Monday, August 2nd
Full normal hours return! Beginning on 8/2 the library will go back to its full 54 hours a week of operations. That means the library will be open Monday through Thursday from 10 am to 8 pm and Friday through Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm. This would not have been possible without our great volunteers. It’s because of them we can go back to “normal”. Interested in volunteering? If so, contact the library Volunteer Coordinator at 727-784-3332.   

Tuesday, September 7th
Zoom is in our rearview mirrors as we now start offering in-person programs and meetings! Yes, the Community and Conference Rooms will once again be available for all kinds of programs and meetings, as well as Story Times and other crazy antics in the Children’s Room. Initially, registrations will be required to control the number of attendees (still want to be a bit careful), but we are on our way! 

Saturday, October 2nd
This will be a destination day. From Noon to 6 pm, while the library is open, we will host two community events in our parking lot. It will feature the Palm Harbor Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s fundraiser, “Feed the Foodies Truck Rally” whose proceeds will benefit school scholarships, FEAST Food Pantry, and other charitable endeavors. The other event will be sponsored by PHIN (Palm Harbor Institutions of Non-Profit) who will hold a “Volunteer Fair”. This surely will be a one-stop event to feed your stomach, soul, and mind. What a deal! And before you ask, parking will be available across the street in Putnam Park.  

Saturday, October 16th
A couple of years ago the library’s own Foundation hosted a fundraising event called “A Magical Evening” at the library. It was an evening filled with incredible magicians and a lavish food spread (courtesy of St. Mark Village). In a nod to safety but retaining the aura of magic, this year’s event will be a live-streamed magic show hosted by two talented magicians! Tickets (and more info) will go on sale on September 1st.   

Saturday, November 13th
Finally, the library will be doing a fundraiser that has never been attempted before. I can’t say too much now other than…what library do you know of has done a 13-hour Telethon!  See, I said too much already.  I need to curb my enthusiasm here. 

I guess “big dates” is a relative term but for Palm Harbor Library, these are the real deals. It ain’t high school and it ain’t college but these are dates you may still want to remember. 


Gene P. Coppola, Library Director Palm Harbor Library


June 2021

 “ABC Reading Club”

This pandemic has changed just about everything. There are though some practices that will never change and reading is near the top of the list. Now when you combine that with art, I think you have a winner.

In the past, I have written about some wonderful partnerships the library has been fortunate to be involved in however one of the most rewarding has been with the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art. Over the years we have engaged in joint activities such as art lectures at the library with the “Appetite for Art” program, children art storytimes at Leepa-Rattner, professional museum assistance in selecting art for the library’s John Brock Art Alcove, and perhaps my favorite, an art book club at the museum.

Technically it’s called the ABC Reading Club (Arts, Books, and Community) and we have been meeting now for over 11 years. The art titles vary from biographies to particular works of art to history to general art movements. We meet every other month on a Monday (the museum is located at St. Pete College/ Tarpon Springs campus) at 11:30 am. Here’s what we’ll be reading and discussing in 2021-22:

July 26 – The Forest Lover by Susan Vreeland (a fictional account of Emily Carr)
Vreeland traces the courageous life and career of Emily Carr, who blazed a path for modern women artists. Overcoming the confines of Victorian culture, Carr became a major force in modern art by capturing an untamed British Columbia and its indigenous peoples just before industrialization changed them forever. Vreeland tells a story that will appeal to lovers of art, native cultures, and lush historical fiction.

September 27 – Leonardo and the Last Supper by Ross King
In 1495, Leonardo da Vinci began what would become one of history’s most influential works of art-The Last Supper. After a decade at the court of Lodovico Sforza, the duke of Milan, Leonardo was at a low point: at forty-three, he had failed, despite a number of prestigious commissions, to complete anything that truly fulfilled his astonishing promise. The commission to paint The Last Supper was a small compensation, and his odds of completing it weren’t promising: he hadn’t worked on such a large painting and had no experience in the standard mural medium of fresco.

November 29 – Master Pieces: The Curator’s Game by Thomas Hoving
As Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art for a decade, Thomas Hoving brought art to a new level of public awareness by pioneering such blockbuster shows as the King Tut exhibit. Early in his career, Hoving was introduced to the “curator’s game.” Each week, he and his contemporaries met to examine details of larger museum masterpieces. Whoever correctly identified the detail in context won free coffee: the losers paid. In an imaginative adaptation of this exercise, Hoving introduces us to the challenge and the fun of identifying art, and to the rewards of familiarity with the great works. A section of paintings accompanied by brief essays introduces a range of artists, themes, techniques, and styles, while progressively demanding “clues” are provided to help identify visual details in context. Readers at all levels will discover the fun of identifying and remembering great art.

January 31, 2022 – Sargent’s Women: Four Lives Behind the Canvas by Donna M. Lucey
In this multilayered biography, Lucey illuminates four extraordinary women painted by the iconic high-society portraitist John Singer Sargent. Elsie Palmer traveled between her father’s Rocky Mountain castle and the medieval English manor house where her mother took refuge, surrounded by artists, writers, and actors. As the veiled Sally Fairchild emerged on Sargent’s canvas, the power of his artistry lured her sister, Lucia, into a Bohemian life. The saintly Elizabeth Chanler embarked on a surreptitious love affair with her best friend’s husband. And the iron-willed Isabella Stewart Gardner scandalized Boston society and became Sargent’s greatest patron and friend.

March 28 – The Collector of Lives: Giorgio Vasari and the Invention of Art by Ingrid Rowland and Noah Charney
Giorgio Vasari (1511–1574) was a man of many talents―a sculptor, painter, architect, writer, and scholar―but he is best known for Lives of the Artists, the classic account that singlehandedly invented the genre of artistic biography and established the canon of Italian Renaissance art. It was through Vasari’s visionary writings that artists like Raphael, Leonardo, and Michelangelo came to be regarded as great masters of life as well as art. An advisor to kings and pontiffs―and a confidant to Titian, Donatello, and more―Vasari enjoyed an exhilarating career amid the thrilling culture of Renaissance Italy.

So if you too like a sparkling conversation, want to be part of a local art scene and you like books…you can be part of something really enjoyable. We’ll save you a chair.


Gene P. Coppola, Library Director Palm Harbor Library


May 2021

“Summer of ’21!”

There have been a lot of great summers over the years. In my time there was the summer of ’69, (Jimi, Janis, & Sly…if you have to ask who they are you’re either too young to know or too old to care and it’s all about Woodstock anyway, baby!) and of course you got the “Summer of ’42” (Ah, one my favorites, especially when I was 16). But I’ve got to say the summer of ’21 may actually be one of the best…for your Palm Harbor Library. A lot of great improvements are coming your way and much of it has been made possible through the wonderful generosity of fellow community members. Let’s see what’s coming up…

A new aluminum canopy will be erected along the entire pathway on the west side of the building leading from the sidewalk by the parking lot up to the front entrance. We will also be installing an overhang on the east side of the building covering both the new drive-thru and book drops. Both will certainly protect against rain and sun, and it was all made possible by a former library book club member Ms. Susan Makara who left the library in her will. This new feature will be called the “Susan Makara Walkway.”  It is projected to be completed in mid-summer.

Unless you are hanging out at the Fountain of Youth, everything gets old and that includes our phone system. It’s the same one we have been using for about 10+ years so it’s time. Come mid to late May, your library will have a new system that will provide overall better service, and this was made possible primarily through a very kind donation from the Kenyon family who has supported this library for a number of years. You may not see it written anywhere but rest assured our new means of voice communication will be called the “Kenyon Telephone System”!

Subject to the County government approving the library’s application for a special MSTU funding request, the second carpet replacement phase located in the Reference and Information Department should be done by mid to late summer. Perhaps the most interesting part of this whole project will be watching the machine that picks up an entire book range so it can be moved from the carpeted area that will be replaced. That is a photo op in the making!

New signage! Yup, those old rectangular forest green signs are moving on out and in its place we got/are getting large colorful, circular ones that say:
-“Children’s Desk” (in purple)
-“INFO” (in orange)
-“Dave Dockery Computer Area” (mediterranean blue)
-“Teens/Gaming” (hot pink)
I don’t think you are going to miss those.

Past summers have taught us about the bright promises of summers to come such as hanging out at Max Yasgar’s farm or dreaming of Jennifer O’Neill. The promises for the summer of ’21 at Palm Harbor Library may not be as notable but may stick around as long.   


Gene P. Coppola, Library Director Palm Harbor Library


April 2021

“Aging Gracefully”

No, I’m not talking about myself. Hardly. If anything, I’m on a downward spiral. But I digress…

There’s a lot of beauty around us and if you just open your eyes you’ll see some of it – notably on April 1st when your Palm Harbor Library celebrates 43 years of service!  (33 years in the current building.) Yes, we were founded on April Fools’ Day. I wasn’t here when that happened, I can’t tell you why, it just did. Another way to look at it, though, is that the library is an Aries. Aries loves to be number one. They are bold and ambitious and dive headfirst into even the most challenging situations. Yup, I think that’s us.

Now of the 43 years, I have been around (good or bad) 21 of them so yeah, I’ve seen a thing or two. What I have seen developed though over the years has been a lot of beauty outside as well as within. I got here at a time when a lot of progress was already made (thank you Jeannette Malouf and others!), but more still needed to be done. So let’s go back to 2000 and try for a moment to imagine what it was all like:

-the building was painted a battleship gray
-there was a large retention pond on the north end of the parking lot
-a rather large mound of dirt occupied most of the west side of the building
-no circular driveway on the east side of the building
-no road sign
-no bookstore (Actually there was one but it was located down one of the book aisles. People often got confused about what you could borrow and what you could buy!)
-no study rooms, no conference room, no teen room but loads and loads of books all over the place

We have come a long way since the turn of the century (boy, does that sound old!), but thankfully some things just never change such as our wonderful volunteers. We really couldn’t have done what we did without them. They are the library… but that’s also true for the staff. So many faces have come and gone, good people, each making this library a bit better than what it was.

Today, you can visit your Palm Harbor Library and find:

-A lending library machine just outside the front entrance
-MACs and bunches of PCs
-a Children’s MakerSpace
-Gaming Center
-drive-thru window service
-digital road sign
-reading & butterfly gardens
-an interactive mural
-musical instruments
-And remember that retention pond? Its area eventually helped to provide a current 140 parking spaces!

There have been so many highlights over the years such as the massive remodeling project back in ’08, being named Best of Bay 2018-2019, our 40th anniversary Open House (the “wine toss” was certainly a favorite), the Grand Opening of the Yoffredo Activity Center, the launching of the Madeline Oliveri Writing program and honestly so much more my aging brain can’t seem to remember.

One story I do remember says much about where we are today. It must have been the first year I was here and came across some kids who were throwing balls against the backside of the building. I told them to stop and they ran away. As I approached the wall to check for any damage I saw something protruding from it. It was a ball. It was a ball stuck in the wall. Balls don’t stick to walls. They’re supposed to bounce off them. I come to find the building was made primarily of foam over a metal skeleton. I’m thinking, this is not good. How long can a building made of foam stand, especially during hurricane season?  Apparently a long time. Like 33 years. 43, when you count it all up.


Gene P. Coppola, Library Director Palm Harbor Library


March 2021


 So, I’m with the library’s Marketing Coordinator, Tamara, and we’re kicking around what I should write about for my next “Director’s Column.” Our conversation went something like this:

Tamara- “Gene, the March newsletter is coming due. What are you going to write about?”
Gene- “It’s that time again?”
T- “Yes it is.”
Gene- “I don’t know. What do you think?”
T- “I don’t know, how about spring?”
G- “Spring!?”
T- “OK, not spring. What do you celebrate in March?”
G- “Well, there’s always Women’s History Month or I could do a bit on St. Patrick’s Day or maybe something on green, ya know, for St. Patrick’s Day.”
T- “Ah, what?”
G- “OK, forget that. I’ll figure something out.”

And it dawned upon me that although there are many wonderful and worthwhile day/week/month celebrations and awareness’s throughout March, there are also the humble, the unknown, the near discarded, and yes even the mundane of items that deserve our attention. So without further ado, here are some upcoming events that may strike that special chord within you:

Now, I really like this one. This is held the first two weeks in March, or when it’s convenient. It also sometimes gets pushed back on the calendar. The goal is to celebrate the act of procrastinating by leaving necessary tasks to be done at a later time. There are other purposes for the holiday. One claim is that the week of putting-off provides a mental and emotional break causing a decrease in stress and anxiety. This is a celebration I can live with.

If you like orange, you’re just going to love this special day on March 5th. Found all across the country, these cheddar cheese-coated snacks come in puffed or crunchy, fried or baked. They also come in single-serving or jumbo-sized packaging. The actual inventor of Cheese Doodles is under debate. Generally, the credit goes to a man named Morrie Yohai who made a variety of extruded snack foods in the 1940s for his family’s company called Old London Foods. I am sure if Morrie was here today he would say, “Snack on!”

March 7th celebrates National Cereal Day. The first ready-to-eat breakfast cereal was invented in the U.S. by James Caleb Jackson in 1863, and it was called Granula. Not surprisingly it really wasn’t that popular when you consider that the heavy bran and nuggets needed soaking overnight before they turned tender enough to eat. It wasn’t until John Harvey Kellogg experimented with granola and wheat and discovered a light and flaky product. He patented his invention in 1891 and launched “Cornflakes” in 1895! Personally, I’ll stick with my Peanut Butter Captain Crunch. The best!

Every once in a while, don’t you just want to say this to someone? Now you have an excuse on March 9th! “It” may be a variety of things. Sometimes we need to get over the small things like spilled milk or traffic. Even news such as being passed over for a promotion or poor grades shouldn’t cause us to live our lives in a state of misery forever. So you know what? Get over it!

If you have a fear of superstition, this is right up your alley. Be careful on March 13th when National Open an Umbrella Indoors Day is celebrated. The day encourages you to test the superstition and note if any misfortune comes your way. Good luck!

Then perhaps my favorite, March 15th which recognizes Everything You Think Is Wrong Day, a day where decision-making should be avoided, as your thoughts are (according to the founder of this holiday) wrong.  It is also a day created for some people to realize that they are not always right. While starting a conversation, one might even want to avoid using the words “I think.” This may just be a good day to take off from work…or not.

G- “So what do you think about my column?”
T- “You are kidding, right?”
G- “What? You don’t think people will read this?”
T- “C’mon Gene, really?”
G- “It’s got everything, food, laziness, attacking umbrellas…”
T- “What’s the matter with you?”
G- “I should have known. It’s March 15th.


Gene P. Coppola, Library Director Palm Harbor Library


February 2021

“So who was Madeline Oliveri?”

When I first arrived in June 2000 to be the next Library Director at Palm Harbor Library, I met a lot of people on the first day at work. There were staff, Advisory Council members, Friends Board members, Literacy volunteers, community members, Board members from the Palm Harbor Community Services Agency, and yes, lots and lots of library volunteers. Like today, there were over 100! And yet I distinctly remember one tall, elegant-looking lady (whose erect posture I could never match!), dressed so well and hair coiffed so stylishly that she stood out from all the others. But when I got to know who this person was, it wasn’t the clothes, the hair, or that damn erect posture that made her special, it was what she did and how she did it.

So I am sure you figured out by now who I’m writing about simply by looking at the column’s title but why? Well, as you may have heard or read somewhere, the library is about to launch a brand new service called the “Madeline Oliveri Writing Program” and my Marketing staff member told me I should write something about Madeline. So here I am reminiscing about this wonderful lady and how she inspired so many around her, especially my staff members.

Madeline was a true renaissance person. She was a registered representative of the New York Stock Exchange, a television commentator, an interviewer for Suffolk Cablevision, Central Islip, New York, and then, of course, a newspaper editor of the  Review Newspapers, Ronkonkoma, New York as well as Managing Editor for the Review Graphics, New York. And then we got lucky when she retired down here in beautiful Palm Harbor.

As you may suspect, writing and libraries go so well together. With a retired newspaper person in the community and a public library beckoning for help, no surprise it was a match made in heaven. Throughout her second “career,” Madeline filled various volunteer roles at Palm Harbor Library. She worked at the front desk, the Technical Services area, served on the Friends Board, the Advisory Council, and on the Palm Harbor Community Services Agency Board. Each responsibility was handled with smartness, tact, and class.

So who was Madeline Oliveri? To me, she was a lovely individual who added more wherever she went. She was an inspiration to some and a supporter to many and her legacy will continue through this new writing program. She was a person I’m glad I knew and who simply stood out from the crowd.


Gene P. Coppola, Library Director Palm Harbor Library


January 2021

Bibliophiles, unite!

It’s amazing sometimes how things just creep up on you like birthdays and holidays, and PHiL’s (Palm Harbor Library) Book Club is no exception. Unbelievable as it may seem, we’ll soon be heading into our 21st year of reading and meeting. Considering this momentous occasion, I thought I’d take a few moments of your time to tell you what’s coming up.


January 11 – My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier
Is Rachel a conniving murderess or is she a loving cousin? Is she a good-hearted woman or a cunning vixen? That’s what Phillip has to figure out…or can he?

February 8 – You Never Forget Your First by Alexis Cole
Alexis Coe takes a closer look at our first President and finds he is not quite the man we remember. She examines Washington’s myths with mirth and writes history with humor.

March 8 – The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
A cold Christmas Eve night horror tale by one of the giants of American literature. A classic.

April 12 – The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson
Churchill’s first year in office beginning with the evacuation of Dunkirk and how he taught the British people the “the art of being fearless.”

May 10 Henry Himself by Stewart O’Nan
An unsentimental, moving life story of an aging twentieth-century everyman, showing resilience with humor, intelligence, and compassion.

June 14 – Code Name Helene by Ariel Lawhon
A spellbinding and moving story of enduring love, remarkable sacrifice, and unfaltering resolve that chronicles the true exploits of a woman during WWII.

July 12 – Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
Based on one of America’s most notorious real-life scandals—in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country.

August 9 – The Life and Afterlife of Harry Houdini by Joe Posnanski
The one and only…

September 13 – The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai
Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Man Booker Prize

October 11 – The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel
This is a captivating portrait of greed and guilt, love and delusion, ghosts and unintended consequences, and the infinite ways we search for meaning in our lives.

November 8 – Empire of the Summer Moon by S. C. Gwynne
The epic saga of the pioneer woman Cynthia Ann Parker and her mixed-blood son, Quanah, who became the last and greatest chief of the Comanches.

December 13 – The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo
It is a world of servants and masters, age-old superstition and modern idealism, sibling rivalry, and forbidden love. It is also a coming-of-age of a child and a young woman, each searching for their place in a society that would rather they stay invisible.

All book club dates meet at 11 AM on the second Monday of the month. We normally get together at the library but for the first few months, we’ll continue to meet virtually.

In today’s society, you’ve got a lot of choices on how to spend your leisure time. Sure, one of the easiest things to do is pull out the remote and click but if you want to be with friends, meet new friends, laugh, discuss, learn and eat (yes, I do serve you food complimenting what we’re reading), this may be the place for you. And here’s the best part. It’s free!


Gene P. Coppola, Library Director Palm Harbor Library


December 2020

“I can’t wait for 2021!”

Well, 2020 has been a tough year. I mean, it even killed James Bond! In January I never thought face masks would become a fashion statement, Alex would be in Jeopardy heaven (my money is on Ken Jennings to replace him), we would have bubble basketball, I’d be Zooming… and you know all the rest.

I’m exhausted!

So perhaps like many of you, I just want to turn that page and get on with ’21. Except for the holidays, there’s not much hope left for ’20.

So what will 2021 bring? (Boy, doesn’t that sound odd? “2021”? It’s like something out of Dune. ) I’m an optimist by nature so I’ve got to believe there are some good things coming up this year. Generally speaking, here is my thumbs up list:

  • Vaccine! For everyone!
  • A full baseball season. Truth be told, I’m a Yankees fan but I have got it to hand it to the Rays, they had a great season and Cash deserves that award. There are bright days ahead for Tampa Bay but a tougher schedule for the Yanks.
  • Going to a restaurant and getting a full menu!
  • Saving $ NOT buying masks! (And for those of you wearing glasses, I am sure you can’t wait for that day to come.)
  • All the toilet paper you want…anytime!
  • And paper towels too!
  • To spend Thanksgiving together, in person, sharing a meal with as many people as you want.

In library land there are also causes for celebration:

  • Having our volunteers back! We miss you!
  • Reopening our evening hours
  • The new drive-thru window will be fully operational
  • On-site and off-site in-person programs and activities will resume
  • No more looking at each other through Plexiglass

It is gonna be a whole new world… just like the old.

Look, not all of this is going to happen right away and some may take longer than others but it will happen. There will be fits and starts and some gloom may remain but the further we get into ’21, the further away ’20 will be. Now if the Yanks can get another front line pitcher and a good left-handed bat, maybe they’ll give the Rays a run for their money. I can only hope.


Gene P. Coppola, Library Director Palm Harbor Library


November 2020

“Giving Thanks”

Wow. Some year, huh? I don’t have to fill in all the blanks or provide the adjectives. I know each and every one of you can easily do that on your own. I think Webster’s top 10 would include “surreal,” “bizarre,” “social distancing” (well, that’s a twofer), “mask,” and “I’ve never seen anything like this in my life” (that probably should be put in the phrase category). To round it out, I’ll even throw in a couple of numbers, “6” and “19.” You know where they go. The point being, 2020 has not been the 20/20 we thought it would be. But perhaps in some small subtle way, it was…and still is.

Now, I know Halloween or Christmas is the favorite holiday for many but Thanksgiving for me is what I look forward to all year: dinner, family, friends. It’s a great trifecta. It also gives me pause to be thankful for all I do have in spite of all the nonsense going on around me.  As the lovely Elizabeth Barrett Browning once said, l”et me count the ways I can give thanks:

  • Able to spend more time with family & friends (see above)
  • Able to spend more time with my dog, a Basset Hound called “Rosie” (named after my daughter’s middle name…she wasn’t too happy about that)
  • To work in a comfortable environment where staff are kind and ethical
  • Simply to be working
  • As a sports-minded guy…Go Lightning!… Go Rays!…and with Brady at the helm, Go Bucs!
  • To re-engage with my book club members virtually; how I missed them!
  • Actually seeing more goodness in people, and becoming more accommodating than ever before.
  • Happy to know so many animals are now being adopted from the shelters (Rosie would be happy too!)
  • To be able to write this as a healthy individual.

Going home each day I pass the southwest corner of Nebraska and US19 where Walgreens is located and there is one yard sign there. You may have seen it too. It’s red, white and blue but it’s not for a particular candidate. It simply says, “Vote Kindness.”  It got me thinking there really is more kindness than we realize, more than that the other stuff. It’s just that mostly we hear what’s not right, but if you open your eyes, you’ll see how much is going right, and for that I am grateful.

Now, I’m not trying to get schmaltzy here and I’m not naïve to what has been going on, especially to those who have been severely affected this year; but if we each just STOP for a moment and take it all in, there is indeed much to be thankful for. Granted, sometimes it’s tough to see the good side,  but when Rosie and I take our walks each morning (not sure who is leading who) I know we’re both happy and thankful we’re together.


Gene P. Coppola, Library Director Palm Harbor Library


October 2020

Our Questions, Your Answers!

I hate surveys. They’re long, boring and they never seem to ask that one question you really want to answer. And if you do fill one out, you like to hear some response back. Did they like my answers? What are they going to do with the info? Did I really make an impact by sending this thing in? We like to think when we take time to do a survey, something direct will come out of it but it seems more often than not, you never hear anything. Well, that changes here.  

Recently your library posted a survey on our website and sent it to our newsletter subscribers. Yes, I hate to admit it, it was long; but wow, over 200 of you responded! I was hoping maybe for 50 or so (and that would have been a lot!), but I guess you really wanted to tell us what was on your mind. And you did.

Some of the things we asked and how you answered follow below:

How has the library enhanced your well-being?
“When I am able to do my volunteer tasks, it does wonders for my blood pressure.”
“Knowing that I have a place to go and unwind and truly be myself without judgment helps with my mental well-being.”

How could our library or its services be improved?
“Give warning [when] the library card is set to expire. Tried using it on vacation and it had expired that day and I could not access my account.”
“There are many services that the library offers that don’t fit my demographic.”
“It’s me, not you. The library is excellent. I need to make better use of online services.”

During these Covid-19 challenges, how has the library been successful in providing support and encouragement while keeping you feeling safe?
“Curbside pick-up has been awesome.”
“Ability to use library via Kindle, computer”  

Select which of these features you’d like us to implement or improve.
“Communication about library news” 68.3%
“More library service recommendations” 57.4%
“Updates on what’s trending in library services” 30.6%

On average, how often did you visit the library pre-COVID?
Weekly 52.2%
Monthly 32.8%
Less than once a month 9.5%

How important are programs?
Very Important 39.4%
Important 23.2%
Somewhat Important 20.2%

How important are online services and streaming?
Important 27.2%
Very Important 22.6%
Somewhat Important 20.5%

How is our customer service?
Excellent 77.5%
Good 20%
Fair 2.5%

How is our cleanliness?
Excellent 82.3%, Good 17.7%

And we won’t just be looking at the percentages of these anonymous responses and acting accordingly, we also will be using some of the answers in our promotions. As part of the library’s expanded marketing plan, three new outside banners will be displayed on the north side of the building that will rotate occasionally. The first three, expected to be hung in October if not sooner, will be quotes from the survey. Here’s a preview:

“A place to unwind and be myself without judgement” This sounds familiar…
“The library is my happy place”
And my favorite… “A safe place to be nerdy” 

Well, based on what we’ve read so far, we seem to be doing OK but, of course, there’s always room for improvement. I like to think there was one question there that satisfied your curiosity but if not, you can always contact me at and ask your question. 

And yes, I did like your answers. And yes, we are going to use the information to make this a better place to visit on-site and online. And yes, you did make an impact.



Gene P. Coppola, Library Director Palm Harbor Library


September 2020

A Non-Profit Summit

As some of you may not know, Palm Harbor is an unincorporated community of approximately 59,000+ residents. We are not a city, and so many of our services are provided by the County. Palm Harbor offers a great business community, a strong cultural environment, and numerous unique non-county services.

Over the years the Greater Palm Harbor Area Chamber of Commerce has been a wonderful source for the business community and has been consistently supportive of nonprofits. However, during these turbulent times perhaps more needs to be done with socially-focused institutions. Some are suffering from reduced revenues, staff, and resources; although each is striving to maintain the services that the community has come to expect, it is increasingly difficult to do so. In an attempt to ease this burden, Palm Harbor Library, in partnership with CSA Palm Harbor, will be hosting a summit where all Palm Harbor non-profits can gather to review and discuss how we may be able to help each other.

To give you an example of a mutually beneficial partnership, the library joined up with the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art to promote art and literature.  Leepa-Rattner provided free one-hour art talks at the library and juried art selections for the library’s Art Alcove exhibit space. In turn, the library conducted art-themed storytimes for children and an adult art book club at the museum.

So far nearly 50 organizations have been identified as nonprofits in Palm Harbor! Imagine that. There are so many good public services being offered, and I am sure many Palm Harborites (Is that a word?) are justly benefitting from them. But just think how much more may be accomplished if we all gather together, guided by the simple philosophy of altruism. And don’t you think we need that now more than ever?

We are currently reaching out to the Nonprofits of Palm Harbor in preparation for the Summit in early 2021. If you are interested in participating, please do not hesitate to contact me at 727-784-3332 ext. 3001 or at  I sure would like to talk with you.

These are challenging times and may continue to be for quite a while. However, these could be times of opportunity and innovation. What do they say about lemons and lemonade? Well, I say, let’s mix it up and see what happens.


Gene P. Coppola, Library Director Palm Harbor Library


August 2020

“It’s a Whole Different Ballgame…at Least for Now”

So now it’s August, the library is open but somehow it’s not the same. Yes, you can come in and borrow materials, take a load off and sit down, read a book and cool off… but it’s not the same.

This whole Covid-19 phenomenon has changed just about everything in our lives and libraries of course are no exception. We had to close for a while, then re-open with staff only, no volunteers. We are without our face-to-face activities/meetings/programs, and now we must modify our hours due to a scaled-down staff.  Everything seems so surreal!

But wait! All is not lost. The library is still here! We can still do things for you! We can still do a lot of things for you. Here is just a small sampling of those services:

– The Library Media Box just outside the front entrance when the library is closed (all you need is a library card)
– The Library Media Box located at CSA Palm Harbor, open 24 hours a day (ditto on the card)
– Outside Wi-Fi access around the library when the library is closed (signs are posted where Wi-Fi is available)
– Two FREE charging stations for your e-car
– As mentioned, PCs and…MACs!
– A seed library (Yes, we can help you grow your own garden!)
– Musical instruments to borrow
– STEAM kits for kids
– Records! (We also provide a turntable)
– Our bookstore is open. Great bargains!
– Curbside pick-up
– Standard services (Reference, Notary, Faxing and Exam Proctoring Services)
– And let’s talk a minute about our online services at
 Overdrive (Downloadable Ebook, Audiobooks & Streaming Video)
Hoopla (Downloadable Movies, Music & AudioBooks)
Kanopy (Stream classic cinema, indie films, top documentaries, quality children’s tv, and movies and the Great Courses) (offers a range of services for all ages from live help from tutors available from 3 pm – 10 pm to practice tests for the SAT  and ACT. You are also able to submit papers, math questions, and resumes for tutors to review 24/7)

I am sure I’m missing some others but that should give you an idea that we are still in business.

Yes, this wacky world may still get a bit wackier as we go along but know that through it all, we’ll continue to be here to serve you one way or another.  It is a different ballgame for now but when it gets back to the way it was, we will too.


Gene P. Coppola, Library Director Palm Harbor Library