Some of Collier County's most important libraries are hidden, or not even open, to the public

Dania Maxwell/Staff (2)
Lorie Mayer, left, and Anneliese Salamon share a memory while sorting through books in the library at the Holocaust Museum & Education Center of Southwest Florida on Wednesday in Naples. Mayer and Salamon volunteer their time working as librarians, and perform other jobs at the museum. “We feel that every museum should have a library,” Mayer said. The books are available for checkout to members of the museum, but anyone can come and peruse the materials.

Photo by DANIA MAXWELL, NAPLES DAILY NEWS // Buy this photo

Dania Maxwell/Staff (2) Lorie Mayer, left, and Anneliese Salamon share a memory while sorting through books in the library at the Holocaust Museum & Education Center of Southwest Florida on Wednesday in Naples. Mayer and Salamon volunteer their time working as librarians, and perform other jobs at the museum. “We feel that every museum should have a library,” Mayer said. The books are available for checkout to members of the museum, but anyone can come and peruse the materials.

Collier County has its own public library system, but it doesn’t have the only library here — many other organizations in the community have libraries. Some are open to the public, some are not, and most house specialty collections that are great resources.

From learning about Florida history to researching a legal issue, local residents and scholars worldwide may find just the information they need.

NAPLES HISTORICAL SOCIETY

Naples Historical Society has collected archival material for decades but opened its digital archival library only this spring. The society’s Archival Viewing Center, located in the reconstituted guesthouse on the property of Historic Palm Cottage, is free to society members and available to others with paid museum admission of $10.

Elaine L. Reed, the organization’s executive director, estimates there are more than 30,000 pieces in the collection, with about 2,000 photographs and documents scanned and approximately 700 of those currently available in the Archival Viewing Center.

“Digitized images of treasured gems are available for perusal and review at one’s leisure and in good comfort,” Reed emphasizes. “The society’s archives hold a variety of items associated with several people from the past. Our library is a good place to learn in depth about people, places, events.”

Reed boasts “there is no accession and record-keeping system in Collier County like this; it rivals the archival standard operating protocol of larger museums and institutions in Washington, D.C.”

The most popular searches are for Barron Collier, who helped develop the county, and Sister Bidell, who Reed explained was “a nun who worked with the Seminoles, integrating them and their production of dolls, clothing and costumes into ‘western’ society.”

If people want to donate photos, documents or objects that tell of Naples’ past, they can contact Rayna Alam, the society’s full-time archival coordinator.

COLLIER COUNTY MUSEUM

This collection is not a lending library that people can visit, Museum Director Ron Jamro emphasizes. But if people want to research a topic, staff can pull the files.

The collection started in 1978, he explained, with a box of books that people donated.

“They turned out to be important titles,” Jamro said. The collection has grown to encompass approximately 1,000 books, magazines, microfilm (although the reader currently is broken), clip files and small pamphlets, all primarily about Collier County’s history. Many items date back to the 1920s. Some books of “county cattle brands” are one-of-a-kind.

“It’s a small, specialized collection with some books that are out of print,” Jamro said.

The most requested items are aerial maps that local attorneys want to view, trying to prove where ponds or roads were located, for example.

The museum receives requests from around the world about topics such as the Seminole Indians and Barron Collier. And the collection stays current, because the museum purchases new books published about Florida history.

“My hope has always been that some group or individual would take an interest in the little research library and help us building a fine, representative Florida collection that would be the envy of the state,” Jamro said.

“We don’t have rare books, per se, but we have the state’s history fairly well covered, especially Collier County, which doesn’t have a lot published about it.

“The search goes on. If anyone has Florida history books or southern history books and want to donate, we’d love to look at them.”

HOLOCAUST MUSEUM & EDUCATIONAL CENTER OF SOUTHWEST FLORIDA

History on a more global scale but with a local connection is in the lobby of the Holocaust Museum, which since 2008 has had a lending library for its members. The collection of 762 books and 170 videos includes personal memoirs of Holocaust survivors and World War II veterans.

Executive Director Amy Snyder said one highlight is the biography of Major General Sidney Shachnow, Army Ret., titled “Hope and Honor.”

“This incredible work tells the story of Lithuanian Holocaust survivor Sid Shachnow, who, as child lived under Nazi oppression in the Kovno Ghetto for three years. After emigrating to the United States, Shachnow joined the Army and worked his way up through the Special Forces, eventually having command of all U.S. Special Forces.”

COLLIER COUNTY BAR ASSOCIATION

Several law libraries are open to the public, including the bar association’s resources, which consists of some books at its East U.S. 41 county government headquarters. But the main draw is the Westlaw subscription for online legal research.

Attorneys, litigants representing themselves in court and people with specific legal questions can use the association’s account to search for case law, state and federal statutes, newspaper and magazine articles, public records, legal forms and other resources.

Due to confidentiality concerns, the association does not track what topics people research. Executive director Lisa Mead said she would guess questions related to the sale and purchase of real estate or perhaps employment or domestic situations are common.

NAPLES COMMUNITY HOSPITAL

Naples Community Hospital has a library that is open to the public as well as a medical librarian, Annette Campbell, to coordinate the materials.

The library is used by medical staff, the public and patients and family members, who not only look up medical information but often use the computers.

“Our staff look up information related to patient care or research activities but they also come in, as do the public, for information on health topics which are in the news,” Campbell explained. “For instance, we are now getting a lot of requests for information from the public on the breast cancer genetics testing due to the recent interest in the news.”

An interlibrary loan program allows NCH to get almost any journal article within minutes, so practitioners have access to the most recent evidence-based information.

The online card catalog can be accessed from any hospital-networked computer, but is not available to the general public, though staff answer calls regarding the availability of a publication.

The NCH library welcomes the donations of medical and nursing books as well as popular reading books and magazines that are distributed to patients and families.

COMMUNITY FOUNDATION OF COLLIER COUNTY

Nonprofit organizations are often looking for ways to reduce expenses, and having access to the John S. Nagel Memorial Library of the Community Foundation of Collier County is a great resource at the right price. Nagel was a longtime supporter and friend of the Community Foundation and set up a designated fund as part of his estate to support the library.

Foundation Vice President Mary George said nonprofit executive directors, staff and board members can view more than 400 books and manuals regarding nonprofit management, fundraising, volunteer management and best board practices.

The Foundation manages a pool of permanent endowed funds established by charitable individuals, and makes grants from the investment earnings to address community needs and issues. It also maintains an online Guide to Nonprofits in Collier County, at www.cfcollier.org/resource_guide, as a tool for people interested in finding objective and concise information on services offered locally.

NAPLES ART ASSOCIATION and VON LIEBIG ART CENTER

Naples has several cultural organizations, several of which have arts-related collections. The von Liebig Art Center has a light-filled, second-floor library for its members, who include many professional and hobby artists. According to volunteer librarian Susan Earl, there are 2,900 art books, 155 DVDs and 12 magazine subscriptions.

“The most used books are ones on watercolor and drawing,” Earl said, adding that the center has “a wonderful number of books from museum collections and on art history.” There is a card catalog as well as a computer program of the holdings.

The center accepts donations of art-themed books and magazines, some of which they keep and others of which they sell to support the library’s operations.

NAPLES PLAYERS/SUGDEN THEATRE

Opened at the same time as The von Liebig Art Center 15 years ago, the Sugden Theatre also has a collection, which is housed in its board room and is open to the public.

Executive Director Jim Rideoutte estimates there are 2,000 to 3,000 plays of a wide variety that the staff is currently cataloging. The theater also will accept copies of plays that it currently doesn’t have.

BAKER MUSEUM AT ARTIS—NAPLES

A selection of this library’s holdings date to when Artis—Naples, the former Philharmonic Center for the Arts, first opened in 1989. Housed on the third floor of the museum and open to the public, these resources are provided through annual support of the Saldukas Family Foundation and other charitable gifts.

Curator of Education Jessica Wozniak said the collection includes approximately 2,100 books, 225 art videos, hundreds of museum lecture recordings, and subscriptions to a dozen periodicals and online art databases. The catalog can be accessed through the library computer, and a printed list is in the library.

The museum will accept donations targeted to its needs.

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