SEMINOLE — If every picture tells a story, then Seminole Community Library’s exhibit titled “September 11, 2001, the Day That Changed the World” speaks volumes.
Designed by the 911 Memorial & Museum in New York City, the posters are on display along the library windows on the first floor through Sept. 30.
“This is a great way to bring a piece of that 9/11Memorial Museum to the Seminole community; and this is just a glimpse of the material that you would find there,” said Seminole Community Library Director Lori Tonti, who has visited the New York City-based museum.
Marking the 20th anniversary of that infamous day, the library exhibit provides an instant visual mnemonic for those who lived through 9/11.
“It represents one of those moments that, for everybody who was around then, remembers exactly where they were and what they were doing when it happened,” Tonti said.
And how each exhibit visitor remembers 9/11 will depend, in large part, on what you bring to it, said AnnMarie Flora, Adult and Information Services supervisor for the library.
“It depends upon the individual,” Flora said. “This tragedy affected people in so many different ways.”
Flora, who oversaw planning the library display, says the 14 posters encapsulate in chronological order events on that somber day.
“The 9/11 Memorial display is very carefully worded,” Flora said. “The 9/11 Memorial Museum in New York City designed this exhibit carefully, and the wording is so perfect.”
Librarians hope the 9/11 exhibit photos and literature stimulate critical thinking about the legacy of 9/11 and Islamic terrorism.
“The exhibit is an excellent way for visitors to come to their own conclusions about the legacy, the history of 9/11,” Flora said. “We hope that people come away thinking a little bit deeply and having different perspectives.”
Tonti says an exhibit such as this is a way for the library to make a community connection.
“To provide a sense of empathy in community members,” Tonti said. “We want to instill that sense of empathy and engage with the community a bit more. And this is another way to do it, because libraries are not just about books.”
Each 9/11 poster illustrates a key moment on that fateful day.
Sept. 11 milestones illustrated by the posters include the 2,983 lives lost in the destruction of the World Trade Center twin towers; 184 people killed in the attack on the Pentagon building; and 40 passengers perished in the aborted United Flight 93.
“When I looked at the posters, I was transported immediately back to that day, and got chills remembering it,” Flora said. “I felt a much more emotional response to it than I thought I would.”
Exhibit visitors can help add to the Seminole Community Library’s 9/11 display by submitting in journal form your own personal memories of 9/11 on “memory of this moment in history” forms that are available at the circulation desk.
Those personal memories will be incorporated into a special remembrance community board to be on display at the library.
“You’re able to write down some memories that you have and you would like to share, and the memories coming all together and remembering what happened on that day,” Flora said.
For very young library visitors, the 9/11 display will serve as an educational primer to history they were not born yet to see.
“We have some library staff who are too young to remember a pre-9/11 world,” Flora said. To wit, one library staff member named Gabby, who helped assemble the exhibit display, was 1 year old on Sept. 11, 2001.
“This is a great educational exhibit to show older children and teens what happened on that day,” Flora said. “To show how everybody was affected all over the nation and world.”
The 9/11 exhibit will also be available as an educational resource for Seminole school teachers.
“Teachers, especially home schoolers, can use it as opportunity to come by and use it as an assignment on 9/11,” Flora said. “This is an excellent resource to build a lesson around the 20th anniversary of 9/11.”
Located on the St. Petersburg Community College Campus, Seminole Community Library officials hope their exhibit draws college students “who are young, or were not born at all yet when it happened,” Tonti said.