In April 1917, after 12 years of effort, Tampa opened its first public library on Seventh Avenue between Franklin and Tampa Streets with a donated collection of 3,800 books. The building remained Tampa's main library for half a century.
In 1960, with the formation of the Friends of the Library, plans developed to build a new, larger library downtown. John Germany, then a Tampa judge, was elected president of the group the following year and headed up the effort to fund and build the new library.
With the help of civic leaders and others on the committee, Germany visited libraries in New Orleans and Dallas. Architects and a library consultant were hired. More importantly, the group, with the help of Mayor Nick Nuccio and the Tampa City Council, secured funding through a cigarette-tax bond issue. In 1965, construction began. The 100,000 square foot library opened to the public in 1968, and a 50,000 square foot annex was added in 1976.
Born January 16, 1923, Mr. Germany earned his B.A., with honors, in 1944 from the University of Florida and his LL.B. in 1950 from Harvard Law School. After graduating from Harvard, he practiced law in Tampa for nine years before being appointed a Circuit Judge for the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit. He served there until 1966, when he resigned to become a partner in Knight, Jones, Whitaker and Germany (which in 1968 merged with another firm to become Holland & Knight).
John Germany had a wide range of experience in many areas of the law. Mr. Germany's practice covered litigation, media law, maritime law, public utility regulation, international law, corporate law, and agriculture-related legal issues. Mr. Germany's deep commitment to the community has been recognized by numerous organizations including the University of South Florida, which presented to him its Medallion for Community Service, and by Stetson University, which granted him an honorary Doctor of Jurisprudence degree. He helped secure legislation establishing the University of South Florida and became a founding partner in Holland & Knight, one of the nation's largest law firms.
In addition to his years as a judge, Germany, 76, was a civic leader in Hillsborough County. Raised in Plant City, he served in World War II and returned to the county after completing Harvard Law School to practice in Tampa.
Mr. Germany died on August 26, 2015. He was 92 years old.
Most recently, Mr. Germany was recognized for outstanding community service and dedication by the Tampa City Council and the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners through the re-naming of the downtown main library on November 1, 1999.Information for this page was derived from Holland & Knight LLP Tampa Tribune via Newsbank InfoWeb. September 14, 1999. A Proper Honor for John Germany. Record Number: 091499040