A short list of recommended names for the new library branch in the Mary Sue Rich Community Center at Reed Place will be presented to the Marion County Board of County Commissioners this week.
The library is a joint effort between the City of Ocala and the Marion County Public Library. Since it will be a new branch of the Marion County Public Library System, a request was approved by the Marion County Board of County Commissioners on December 21, 2021, to begin the naming process for the facility.
As a result of numerous Facebook posts, a press release, in-library submittals, outreach events, email submittals, and a community meeting, over 150 names were received and considered, according to county records.
The Facilities Naming Committee, which was appointed by the County Administrator, met to discuss the names that were submitted. The committee also considered recommendations of their own.
Committee members included Commissioner Michelle Stone, Assistant County Administrator Angel Roussel, Library Director Julie Sieg, Historical Commission member Tom Schmitz, Friends of the Ocala Library board member Rhodia Berry, and City of Ocala representative Ramona Williams.
After careful discussion, the committee is recommending the following names for consideration:
- Sankofa Public Library – According to the committee, this was unanimously the top name selected. Sankofa is a West African word from the Akan tribe in Ghana which means “it is not wrong to go back for that which you have forgotten.” This name would recognize both the meaning of the word (correlating knowledge and learning to the library) and the African heritage of the majority of individuals within the service area.
- Champions Public Library – According to the committee, this name is being recommended to recognize and encompass all the various champions, past and present, who have made a difference in Marion County. These individuals may be considered champions of education, equality and civil rights, athletics, community engagement, or library services.
- West Ocala Public Library – According to the committee, nearly all of Marion County’s libraries, with the exception of Freedom Public Library, are named for the service area in which the library is located – Forest, Fort McCoy, Reddick, Belleview, Dunnellon, Headquarters-Ocala, and Marion Oaks. West Ocala Public Library would be consistent with this past practice. The committee members have mixed feelings about this recommendation.
During the Marion County Board of County Commissioners meeting on August 2, 2022, Ocala Mayor Kent Guinn was in attendance and recommended the following name for consideration: The Erin Jackson Library at the Mary Sue Rich Community Center at Reed Place.
This name would be in honor of the Olympian’s dedication to education, and Jackson is also an example of what can be accomplished with training, perseverance, dedication, and studying.
The list of recommended names for the new library branch will be presented to the Marion County commissioners during their regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday, September 7.
The grand opening of the Mary Sue Rich Community Center, which is located at 1812 NW 21st Avenue in Ocala, is expected in early December of 2022, and it will be open seven days a week: Monday through Friday (8 a.m. to 8 p.m.), Saturday (8 a.m. to 5 p.m.), and Sunday (12 p.m. to 5 p.m.).