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Summer program winds down, but Tribe’s libraries are year round

There’s more activity in the DSO building than most people probably realize.

Those who are familiar with the Hollywood Reservation naturally think about the bustling preschool on the first floor. Maybe others have been to the third floor offices of the Center for Student Success and Services, known as CSSS, where there is constant activity.

But what may be a little less known is the second floor – where the Hollywood library is located.

The library in the Dorothy S. Osceola building is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The staff welcomes dozens of visitors each week – both youth and adults.

Summertime is a particularly creative time there, as library assistant Cecelia Vickers and library program supervisor David M. Blackard feature different themes for the reading program.

Maurice Tyler is currently one of two SWEP employees in the Tribal library system. (Photo Damon Scott)

This summer’s theme was “A Universe of Stories,” tied in to the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. The Apollo 11 mission was the first spaceflight to land humans on the moon. It took place July 29, 1969.

The library’s summer program features different books for youth to read, of course, but also craft making and other activities.

Vickers worked with the youth to create a host of decorations around this summer’s theme – most were done using black light paint. The effect was a library with glowing stars, spaceships, space aliens, moon rocks and the like.

Vickers said the kids learned about many different aspects of space and science during their visits to the library throughout the summer.

Hollywood wasn’t the only Reservation to get in on the action. The program was in effect in Big Cypress, Brighton and Immokalee, too.

While Aug. 1 was the last official day of the summer program, the Tribe’s four libraries, which fall under the direction of CSSS, are a year-round operation.

The library program has a full-time staff of six. There are also two student work experience program (SWEP) members.

Blackard has been library supervisor since 2007.

Library assistant Cecelia Vickers helped students create displays for the summer reading program like this one, among other activities. (Photo Damon Scott)

He said he allows each individual library supervisor to have independence when creating and executing summer program themes.

For example, instead of “Universe of Stories,” the Big Cypress library decided to feature lectures on Tribal culture and the clan system with community culture adviser Victor Billie this summer.

Blackard has been working for the Tribe since 1993. He was part of the original design team, led by Billy L.Cypress, which helped to open the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum in Big Cypress.

Blackard said the Tribe’s first library was founded on the Brighton Reservation in the late 1930s.

He said attendance at the libraries is fairly uniform year round, but that there are spikes in Hollywood when the Boys and Girls Club brings a group in four days a week.

He attended an American Library Association conference in Chicago in June.

“You would have no inkling by attending the conference that books are waning in popularity,” Blackard said.

Damon Scott
Damon is a multimedia journalist for the Seminole Tribune. He has previously been an editor and reporter for digital and print media in Florida and his home state of New Mexico. Send him an email at