Director’s Report

“PHiL’s Place”



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 10Henry 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



“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 judgement 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. 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


Author: JoAnn Jacobson

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