By Michelle Brown
Miami Shores Village

On April 13, 2024, Brockway Memorial Library in Miami Shores Village celebrated its 75th anniversary with a 1940s-themed cocktail party. The event, which doubled as a fundraiser, was attended by nearly 60 locals and longtime Library friends, many of whom came dressed for the occasion in vintage attire.

The Library opened in 1949 and was considered an outstanding example of modern Florida architecture. It was designed and built by Miami Shores residents Edwin T. Reeder, architect, C.F. Wheeler, builder, and Haygood Lasseter, interior designer. Lasseter also served as interior designer for President Harry S. Truman’s Little White House in Key West. The building of a library in Miami Shores Village was made possible thanks to a bestowal of $50,000 from its namesake, George A. Brockway. In recognition of the structure’s unique features, such as its several coral/limestone fireplaces and high wood-beamed ceilings, the Library attained local historic designation in 2023.

One of only a handful of municipal libraries in Miami-Dade County, Brockway staff members pride themselves on providing an inviting, creative and community-focused outlet for residents and neighbors. Its strongest asset is its collection of nearly 70,000 items, supplemented by programming offered to the 7,500-plus registered patrons who use this local resource. Nearly 30,000 visitors passed through the Library’s front door this past year. A modern Library, steeped in tradition, Brockway serves not only as an educational resource, but it also functions as an avenue for the arts and a place of connection and refuge for its diverse local community. Its efforts in energizing residents about local history and the value of historic preservation earned them the Florida League of Cities 2022 Florida Municipal Achievement Award for Citizenship.

The Library’s small staff of 10 make Brockway the special place that it is. Patrons are known by name, and it is not uncommon to find several generations of a family actively using the library together. With so many varying age groups seeking library resources and offerings, staff have embarked on a recent initiative, intergenerational programming, in the hopes of bridging the divide between them. The community has responded quite positively, with many attending family game night and an Evening of Harry Potter, when the Library was transformed into Hogwarts. Participants from ages 1 to 100 had the opportunity to test the sorting hat and play Wand Picks a Wizard.

Of all of the strides made over the years, it is the high level of personal service and strong community partnerships that have been the backbone of the Library’s success. Just as in the early days when local groups, such as the Miami Shores Rotary Club and Miami Shores Woman’s Club, collected books to start the Library’s initial collection of 4,182 volumes, these organizations and many others continue to provide support and collaboration on impactful community initiatives. Members of the Library staff and board are grateful and excited to serve the Village for many more years to come.

Michelle Brown is the Library Director at Brockway Memorial Library.