Student artists compete in Tampa library’s Hispanic Heritage contest

Kindergarten through 12th-grade students are invited to participate in the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library’s annual art contest celebrating the county’s Hispanic history and culture.

In conjunction with National Hispanic Heritage Month 2021, kindergarten through eighth-grade pupils will be making original bookmarks while ninth- through 12th-graders will create original posters.

The contest runs from Wednesday, Sept. 15, through Friday, Oct. 15. Winners, chosen by a panel of judges, will be announced by November 29; they receive art packages valued at up to $200.

Cheryl Wolfe, the library’s digital media and public relations coordinator, says students do not need to attend school in Hillsborough County or be of Hispanic descent to participate.

The library also is planning a five-week literacy series for families starting Monday, Sept. 27, and a month-long Teen Lit Fest, which kicks off virtually at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 1.

The literacy series, intended for people trying to expand their English vocabulary, is supported by a Florida Humanities grant and the Hillsborough Literary Council. It is a repeat of the series offered this summer, Wolfe says.

The Lit Fest features young adult authors in a variety of genres, including science fiction, romance and horror. Attendees will have a chance to ask questions, hear stories, and win books from authors chosen by library staff knowledgeable about the genre and local authors.

This is the second virtual Lit Fest; the program began on-site at the SouthShore Regional Library.

About 60 percent of residents are cardholders to the library, which serves nearly 1.2 million including more than 340,000 students accessing the library through their hall passes, Wolfe says.

The library has expanded its digital programs and offerings since the COVID-19 outbreak. And, although the library has been up and running, its virtual programs will continue.

“The popularity of our online programs has been a surprise,” Wolfe notes. “We’re absolutely going to continue them side-by-side.”

Digital checkouts hit 7 million in 2020, including 2 million checkouts on the Libby App by Overdrive, she adds. It added more than 3,000 digital magazines this year.

“We’re happy to welcome everyone, however they feel comfortable with visiting us at this time,” Wolfe says.

A popular service expanded after COVID is allowing patrons to check out hotspots for 14 days.

“If there’s not a hold on it, then it will automatically renew,” she says.

The Wifi-enabled hotspots, which support up to five devices with unlimited data, work throughout the United States. They can be used to apply for jobs or to provide an Internet connection on a wilderness vacation, for example.

The library also has extended its Internet access to its parking lots, where residents can access the web 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

September is the public library’s signup month. The theme is “library access equals opportunities,” Wolfe says. 

For more information on the library’s programs or to sign up for a library card, visit the Hillsborough County Public Library Cooperative. You also can visit any of the county libraries in person or call a local library to renew your card, update your account, or even ask for a book recommendation. The main number is 813-273-3652; you can text someone working at the library at 813-352-1972 or 813-352-1603.
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Read more articles by Cheryl Rogers.

Cheryl Rogers is a freelance writer and editor who enjoys writing about careers. An ebook author, she also writes Bible Camp Mystery series that shares her faith. She is publisher of New Christian Books Online Magazine and founder of the Mentor Me Career Network, a free online community, offering career consulting, coaching and career information. Now a wife and mother, Cheryl discovered her love of writing as a child when she became enthralled with Nancy Drew mysteries. She earned her bachelor's degree in Journalism and Sociology from Loyola University in New Orleans. While working at Loyola's Personnel Office, she discovered her passion for helping others find jobs. A Miami native, Cheryl moved to the Temple Terrace area in 1985 to work for the former Tampa Tribune