A Child’s Wish

Author, Lila Zuck

Members of the Naples Woman’s Club made sure books were available to the community long before the Collier County Public Library System was established.

The Collier County Public Library, Central Avenue, 1965.

In 1938, the ladies established a small library at their clubhouse, located at 518 11th Street South, between Fourth and Fifth Streets.

When the present day Woman’s Club on Park Street was constructed in 1951, almost 6,000 volumes were transferred there from the 11th Street clubhouse.

In 1962, the books were transferred from the Woman’s Club on Park Street to The Naples Company Building at the southwest corner of Broad Avenue South and Third Street, which served as the Collier County Library until a permanent site for the library was acquired.

In April 1962, Friends of the Library sponsored an essay contest between all Collier County’s Senior and Junior High School students. They were asked to address the following question in an essay “What I would like my library to be.”

Over 200 excellently written essays were submitted and judged. Two students were awarded first place, each receiving $10 and a copy of “Florida’s Last Frontier, the History of Collier County” by Charlton W. Tebeau.

Both winners were from Naples, Senior Christine Francis Campeau and Junior Mark White. Naples High and Junior High classes were still conducted on the site of present day Gulfview Middle, as grades 11 and 12 had not yet relocated to the new Naples High School campus on 22nd Avenue North.

Mark began his essay writing, “I would like for my library to be located in a place close to school where it could be visited easily. This way the books could be checked out on the way home.”

Mark White’s wish came true the following year, when in 1963 Dr. and Mrs. Ferdinand C. Lee purchased a sandy undeveloped one square-block on the south side of Central Avenue, between 6th and 7th Streets and donated it to Friends of the Library as a permanent site for the new Collier County Public Library.

Although Mark never had a chance to walk from school to the library and home, because the library opened after he transferred to the new Naples High School, Gulfview Middle School students enjoy having the library close to school.