Library Named for Leader Who Broke Gender, Racial Barriers
Arthenia Joyner, namesake of a new branch library in the University Area, recalls her mother reading to her before she could read for herself. Later, her mom had young Joyner place books atop her head, to perfect her posture.
Both practices helped mold Joyner into the person she became: a lawyer, teacher, lawmaker, and civil rights activist. "Knowledge," she told those at the dedication of the Arthenia L. Joyner University Area Community Library, "is the great equalizer." It also helps to stand tall and proud.
Joyner was the first African-American woman to practice law in Hillsborough and Polk counties, and the first African-American board member of the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority. She served in the Florida House of Representatives from 2000 to 2006, and the Florida Senate from 2006 to 2016. She has held local, state, and national posts and appointments, and is the longest practicing female African-American lawyer in Florida.
Naming the County's 27th library for Joyner, a tireless advocate for women and minorities, is appropriate, more than one speaker noted at the March 26 ceremony. In a neighborhood with a disproportionate number of single mothers and children, Joyner's accomplishments are especially poignant.
Not by chance, the new library at 13619 22nd St. in Tampa also features a display of the Hillsborough County Women's Hall of Fame, with names and bios of the 30 women enshrined, including Joyner.
The 15,000-square-foot building doubles as the Media Center for Muller Elementary Magnet School. The $9.3 million library is the result of a partnership between the County and Hillsborough County Schools, and was built with funds from the Community Investment Tax and Hillsborough County Public Library Cooperative, and a $500,000 grant from the Florida Department of State's Division of Library and Information Services.
The facility has ultra-modern features, perhaps making it the most technically advanced of Hillsborough County's regional libraries. Among those attributes:
- Nearly 14,000 books, audiobooks, magazines, music CDs, and DVDs.
- Public computers, wireless internet, and technology instruction.
- Nearly 14,000 books, audiobooks, magazines, music CDs, and DVDs - for library patrons of all ages.
- Job-seeking resources and assistance.
- A variety of meeting spaces, including a community room, study rooms, and makerspace.
With the building's completion, University Area residents no longer have to travel to distant branch libraries. Along with other community-oriented buildings on the 22nd Street corridor, the library "brings new life and new opportunity in an area that otherwise might have been forgotten," Joyner says.
For more information about the Arthenia L. Joyner University Area Community Library and programs offered there, visit the HCPLC website.