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Arts / Culture

Temple Terrace Public Library Tackles Tough Topics

The Temple Terrace Public Library's Erica Richardi serves as the young adult librarian, but she stresses that the library is a place where everyone is welcome. 

So she started an initiative where the library created posters and placed them inside the doors of the bathroom stalls to tackle difficult subjects that people might not feel they can ask about outright. 

The posters show where in the library patrons can find information on subjects such as abuse and incest, drugs, cutting and self-harm and sexually transmitted infections.

"I was thinking specifically about victims of domestic violence when I put them in the bathroom, because sometimes people who are in relationships where they are being abused don't have a lot of opportunity to be alone, and I thought well a bathroom is a great place where they would definitely be alone and undisturbed for a period of time," Richardi said. 

a list of tough topics
Credit Susan Giles Wantuck/ WUSF Public Media
The Tough Topics list that hangs in the bathroom stalls at Temple Terrace Public Library

The list is long and that poster doesn't stand alone. A companion poster has contact information for local and national resources, such as the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, The Spring of Tampa Bay, and The TREVOR Project for LGBTQ young people 25 and under. 

Richardi said a few days after the posters were put in place, one of her colleagues told her a man had seen them in the men's restroom and took one off the wall.

But then she continued to tell me that he took it down because he really loved it, and the information on it was really useful and he wanted to show it to a friend of his," she said. 

Richardi stressed that the reason behind the Tough Topics posters and bookmarks is to make sure library patrons know that there is good information to be found within the library's walls, but their privacy is a matter of great importance to the librarians.

"Patron privacy is a huge concern for librarians," Richardi said. "We don't share patron information, we don't question why people are looking up certain topics, we would certainly never ask. So we want people to feel safe and feel that we are respecting their boundaries when they come here, that they can get information without being judged or without being questioned."

Richardi said if people want the information listed on the posters, they can browse the library book stacks by the Dewey Decimal System, look for that information on the Hillsborough County Public Library Cooperative website, or reserve the materials and have them sent to the Temple Terrace Public Library.