Maps: Bringing People Together Since Forever

The Jacksonville Public Library’s (JPL) Main branch is an extraordinary building – a crown jewel of downtown. Walk through the front doors on Laura Street and be wowed by the expanse of the building, its elegance and charm. Nestled on the fourth floor of the building is another gem, the Morris Ansbacher Map Room which houses an extensive collection of maps known as the Lewis Ansbacher Map Collection. The Ansbacher family has generously donated this collection of maps to the library to make them available to the community.

All 21 branches of JPL host programs that highlight a myriad of topics and bring the community together around shared interests and passions. This was true recently when Jacksonville gathered at the Main Library to discuss maps, cartography and antiquities. Christopher Lane of PBS’ Antiques Roadshow was the guest speaker for the Mapping Our Past event. More than 100 people attended the conference and another 50 attended the fundraiser Dinner in the Maps the evening before.

Charles Sidman and his daughter Margaret Sidman attended the event together after Margaret heard about the Dinner in the Maps fundraiser and the Mapping Our Past event through a Friends of the Jacksonville Public Library events flyer. Her father is a retired professor and dean from the University of Florida with a passion for history and maps, making the two-day affair the perfect father-daughter outing.

Margaret Sidman, Charles Sidman and Christopher Lane

Mr. Sidman, a resident of Gainesville, visited the Jacksonville Public Library for the first time for Dinner in the Maps. Knowing how much he would enjoy the experience, his son and daughter coordinated the trip to downtown Jacksonville for their 86-year-old father. Mr. Sidman and Margaret were seated directly next to Mr. Christopher Lane and engaged in meaningful conversation throughout the evening. Mr. Lane even invited them to be part of the audience the next time he attends an Antiques Roadshow near them!

Because of the generosity of the Ansbacher family, the Jacksonville Public Library was able to host such an amazing event, and present the opportunity for the Sideman’s to spend quality time together with like-minded individuals from around the community. Without private community support, the library would not be able to host additional programming such as Mapping Our Past as there are no additional funds allocated in the public budget for programs.

The Jacksonville Public Library Foundation works to partner with community donors and private support to raise additional funds for programming in the library, including Summer Learning for students, GED classes for adults, and technology classes. Great libraries create strong communities. Help us build our community by donating $5 a month and following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Go to to sign up to become a supporter today. We look forward to seeing you at our next event, Jax Book Fest on March 3!

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