CLEARWATER, Fla. - The City of Clearwater is losing its Public Library System Director, John F. Szabo; he has accepted a position as Director of the Atlanta-Fulton County Library System. Szabo, who has been with the Clearwater Library System for 6 1/2 years and served as its Director since October 1999, will begin his new job on April 4.
"While I eagerly look forward to the challenges in Atlanta, leaving Clearwater is difficult. My tenure here has been tremendously rewarding. Clearwater's strong support for libraries makes it a wonderful place to serve as library director," said John Szabo.
Asked to identify the most satisfying aspects of his tenure in Clearwater, Szabo named the new $20.2 million Clearwater Main Library and the new $1.3 million North Greenwood Branch Library. "Some Library Directors like construction projects, and some don't; I'm one of those who enjoy building," Szabo said; "I'm equally proud of both facilities."
Szabo said that his successor in Clearwater would face new opportunities and challenges. "Because the new facilities are complete, the focus will turn to developing library services," Szabo said, adding, "We do provide outstanding service now."
Among the challenges his successor will face is establishing a permanent home for the Beach Branch; it has been operating on a month-to-month lease on the first floor of Pelican Walk. A new long-term lease is pending for a larger space on Pelican Walk's second floor, but structural improvements must be made for it to support the weight of the book stacks. Pelican Walk's owner, Louis Anastasopolous, said recently, "It's moving along", but could not provide a completion date.
The issue with parking at the Main Library has been largely solved, Szabo said. The determination that 138 spaces are not dedicated to Stein Mart, but shared, and the provision of 20 spaces at the Am South building across Osceola Avenue have combined to satisfy everyday needs, he said. An additional 73 spaces leased from Brown Arnold properties for $1,500 per month are not often used, Szabo said, but they have been useful for the crowds drawn to the Library for special events and meeting room rentals.
The new director may also revaluate Szabo's decision to not filter public Internet access, and forgo an annual $9,000 subsidy of telecommunications costs because the Library's Internet access was not compliant with the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA). Asked if he knew of Fulton County's CIPA compliance, Szabo said, "They filter."
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