Our History

The Freedom Public Library exists today because resident of the State Road 200 Corridor and its surrounding communities wanted a local, full service library. People objected to going all the way to downtown Ocala to borrow and return books. Years of consultations, planning sessions and searches for an available site passed, and still no progress was made. A desirable site existed further west of 200, but the complex was slated to include a sheriff’s substation and a fire rescue station. Those responsible decided library patrons engrossed in their reading would likely be scared out of their chairs by sirens going off, or by squealing tires and the roar of pursuit vehicles.

When the matter came to the attention of local businessman and real estate developer John Rudnianyn, he put an end to the question. He donated a three-acre parcel of land adjacent to one of his projects, which is where the library stands today.

The Friends began forming in May of 2000. According to William R. Haussmann, founder and Friends first president, their small group of eight met in a garage and started making plans for the library’s opening day. The first organizational meeting took place on Wednesday, July 26, 2000. At this and the the meetings to follow they drafted bylaws and articles of incorporation, prepared a mission statement, set up the necessary paperwork for a nonprofit organization, and established dues for membership: $5 individual, $10 family, $25 sponsor, $50 patron, $100 benefactor, and $500 lifetime.

The doors opened for a “soft” opening on September 4, 2000, due to late delivery of furniture and the all-important bookshelf units. So, with 25,000 books and no shelf units, the library’s staff of three arranged the books on planks of wood placed across sawhorses. When the shelf units at last arrived several days later, the doors closed for proper book setup and display, and then reopened, this time permanently.

By the time of the August 30, 2000 meeting, the Friends membership had grown to 23. Friends purchased needed items for the library – materials and furniture not covered in the county budget; as the Friends have done from the time the library first opened.

The first Friends book sale occurred in the lobby of the library on Friday and Saturday, December 15 and 16, 2000. Book slaes are stillbeing held in the meeting room and the library lobby regularly, except for the year 2008. In mid August of that year tropical storm Fay sent water cascading down the walls like waterfalls, flooding the carpet and causing other damage. The fall book sale of 2008 still occurred, but at the First Congregational Church on State Road 200.

The Friends first annual meeting took place on Thursday, January 25, 2001. All annual meetings from that time forward have been held on Saturdays, and all have been held in the library’s meeting room.

The first item purchased by the Friends was a large unabridged dictionary. Following that, the Friends bought end cap shelving units for the book displays, a refrigerator for the staff kitchen, and in the last couple of years replaced large tables for the meeting room, a 35 mm camera, and a Christmas tree, as well as other needed items. Friends sponsored the library’s first birthday and they continued purchasing items as the need arose. One of the book carousels you see as you enter the library was purchased by the Friends in their second year, 2002.