Donation of the Robert Burns Bust

Donation of a commissioned bust of Robert Burns by Linda-Ackley Eaker by the St. Andrew’s Society of Tampa Bay.

On January 16, 2009, The St. Andrew’s Society of Tampa Bay donated a Burns Bust to the Tampa—Hillsborough County Public Library System.

On January 16, 2009 an historic occasion occurred as a new bust of Robert Burns, commissioned by the Society and created by renowned sculptor Linda Ackley-Eaker was donated to the John F. Germany Public Library in Tampa.

When Andrew Carnegie donated money for his libraries worldwide, it was with the condition that the complete works of Robert Burns and a bust of the poet be housed in each. Carnegie designated funds for the construction of two public libraries in Tampa. The Burns busts at both facilities disappeared long ago.

To commemorate this special 250th anniversary, The Society is donating its new bust of Robert Burns to the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library System. A formal presentation will be held at John F. Germany Public Library, where it will thereafter be displayed. The Society hopes that all will appreciate this fine work of art and be inspired by Scotland’s favorite son.

Amy Scherzer’s DiaryAmy Scherzer
Friday, January 23, 2009

St. Andrew’s Society honors Robert Burns

The Artist with the Bust of Robert Burns, Linda Ackley-Eaker

Beloved Scottish poet Robert Burns (1759-1796) was born 250 years ago, and Ian Greig, historian for the St. Andrew’s Society of Tampa Bay, knew just how to celebrate. He proposed that the club replace the busts of Burns that disappeared from the four Tampa area libraries funded by Scottish-American steel tycoon Andrew Carnegie. “I’ve been searching for them for five years,” said Greig, explaining Carnegie’s requirement that all 3,000 libraries he made possible display a bust of Burns and stock his complete works.

Members sent in donations, and board member Chris Richards commissioned a friend, sculptor Linda Ackley-Eaker, to cast the 18-inch life-sized bronze portrait bust. The former Channel District resident halved her usual fee in exchange for the rights to promote the bust to other Carnegie libraries.

Ackley-Eaker unveiled her work to 100-plus guests at the club’s annual Burns Supper on Jan. 16 at the University Club. “I see romance and passion in his face,” gushed Laura Barber.  Over haggis, filet mignon Balmoral, shortbread and good scotch, members read Burns poems, and Dr. John Miller sang Aye Fond Kiss. All joined in to sing his most famous, Auld Lang Syne.

The bust was to be installed Wednesday at the John F. Germany Public Library, with the stipulation that the society may borrow it for 48 hours every year to take to the annual dinner.

The society plans to continue to raise money to replace the other three busts, said society president Steve Barber. Other Carnegie libraries are the West Tampa branch at 1718 N Howard Ave.; the Old Tampa Carnegie Free Library at 102 E Seventh Ave., now the city’s Business and Community Services Department; and Mirror Lake branch in St. Petersburg.

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