A new library has opened in Tampa with a unique feature.

The new facility at 1505 N. Nebraska Avenue just north of downtown replaces the old Ybor City library branch and is one of only two African-American research libraries in Florida.

The $7-million, 2,600-square-foot Robert Saunders Sr. Public Library recently opened. The two-story library is named for Saunders, a Tampa native and civil rights leader.

"It’s an honor to have this history here," said Carrie Hurst. the principal librarian and branch manager.

The library not only has thousands of books but also highlights Tampa's culture and legacy of African-American history. And the location is no accident as the facility is nestled near Perry Harvey Park and Central Avenue, a once-booming location for blacks in Tampa.

The area is undergoing a renaissance as the city of Tampa continues to refurbish the northern end of downtown with a new park and mixed use retail and residence projects.

Saunders, himself, grew up in the area before serving in World War II and returning to Tampa to serve as Florida's NAACP field secretary during the turbulent 1960s. Saunders died in 2002.

"It’s wonderful to be able to honor the legacy of a great man like Bob Saunders," said Fred Hearns, with the Robert Saunders Library Foundation. "As well as provide opportunities for students and people doing research on African American culture and genealogy."

The library has a corridor dedicated to the history of Central Avenue.

Additionally, the new library will feature a bookstore, a recording room, a children's section and a 350-seat multipurpose room slated to include a portable stage for plays, concerts and banquets.

"Wow, it was just magnificent to see such a dream come true." Hurst said.