As county officials prepare to close the Venice Public Library Feb. 1 because of mold, they've come up with three possible sites for an interim Venice Public Library: the city-owned Hamilton Condominiums behind Venice Theater on the Island; a retail site in the 1500 block of U.S. 41 Bypass, next to Office Depot; and a building at 897 E. Venice Ave., where CareerSource used to be.
"We are going to have a very public thought process about where it goes," says County Commissioner Christine Robinson, adding that there is too much uncertainty to speculate when an interim library would open or where. "It depends on securing a lease and how much build out we would have to do."
The Commission meets this week in Sarasota and will talk about the library. Robinson says they will hold a public meeting in early February. The County has been battling mold issues at the 50-year-old library building for a few years. But the sudden announcement two weeks ago that the library would be closed at the end of the month caught city officials and residents by surprise. About 500 people signed an online petition to keep the library on the same site. Facebook is swarming with theories and outrage including speculation of a nefarious plot to move the library off the island and sell the land to developers. Residents held an organizational meeting last week to form savethevenicelibrary.org.
"People are angry; they are concerned that someone is trying to pull the wool over their eyes," says Council Member Jeanette Gates, who says she wants to rebuild the library on the same site. "I will fight for that location; it hasn't been proven that anything is wrong with the location."