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Tampa gets a 'little library'

Tom Duggan’s memorial serves his beloved community

Staff writer

On a pedestal next to the mailboxes on Main St. in Tampa, a schoolhouse-shaped box may not seem like much. In it, though, lies the legacy of Tom Duggan, and a “Little Free Library” for the town he loved.

Dee Duggan and her family made a special presentation Saturday of a “Little Free Library” to the Tampa community in honor of her late husband. He was a lifelong Tampa resident who worked for the postal service for more than 40 years. He died in October.

The library, purchased by Tampa Pride with Duggan’s memorial fund, is a box where people can “take a book and return a book.” It sports an American flag on top and a sheaf of wheat on each side.

Duggan’s daughter Darla was instrumental in designing and building the library module.

Dee Duggan said, as far as she knew, the little book exchange is the first of its kind in Marion County but was chartered as No. 24,853 under the LittleFreeLibrary national nonprofit. The library is accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“Little did I think when I brought this idea up to the Pride committee six years ago that Tom’s memorial would make it a reality,” Duggan said.

Many of the 30 or more people present commented on Tom Duggan’s contributions to the Tampa community.

David Mueller, who leads Main St. renovation, called him “an integral part of the community.”

“Tom was a good man,” Mayor Tim Svoboda said. “He is an unsung hero. He did a lot for the community that people didn’t know about.”

Tampa State Bank President Chris Costello concurred.

“Tom was a member of a lot of committees, but he wasn’t just a member. He was active,” he said. “He got things done.”

Carol Spohn thanked the family for the gift, calling Tom a mentor. She considers the library as part of the Main St. renovation.

Pride committee chairman Carla Hajek noted that a book exchange has been on the committee’s agenda for years.

“Now we can share in our community through our books,” she said. “Thank you for doing it.”

Duggan family members and others placed books in the library.

Family members present included Dee Duggan, daughters Debbie and Darla Hall, and grandchildren Kaylee and Adam Hall.

“If Tom would be here to see this,” Dee Duggan said, “he would think it was awesome.”

Last modified June 3, 2015

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