UNION BRIDGE - Despite his own initial reluctance to build a library in town, community opinion has persuaded Mayor Edward L. Williar to appoint a three-member committee at the Sept. 24 council meeting to study the matter.
"(My concerns) are changing," he said. "I didn't think our population needed an expensive library.
"For that type of money, I didn't think the commissioners would approve it."
Library officials have requested a $112,900 community branch in their proposed five-year capital budget, which will be considered by the County Commissioners by mid-December.
The facility, which would open in 1992, most likely would be located in a downtown storefront and measure between 800 and 1,000 square feet, said Gail Griffith, assistant library director.
Carrying primarily popular literature and reference materials suitable for "homework questions," the branch should be open about 40 hours a week.
In contrast, a full-service library -- like Westminster or Eldersburg -- is usually open 60 hours a week, has a larger collection and often covers 25,000 square feet, Griffith said.
Plans to add 10,000 square feet to the Eldersburg branch by 1994 call for spending $112,300 for planning and another $1.6 million for actual construction.
Residents in Williar's town of 967 people disagreed with the mayor and said they need more services than the twice-monthly, half-hour visit of the bookmobile.
"We need more access than that," said Councilwoman Bonnie Hyde. "Reading is one of the most important things you can do."
Hyde said everyone she has spoken with supports a community library branch in Union Bridge.
"Many travel out of town almost weekly to use the library," she said. "Students come home with assignments, and their parents have to run them to the library. With a library in town, they could go after school by themselves."
So after townspeople voiced their opinions, Williar and Mayor James C. Carlisle of New Windsor met with county library director Martha M. Makosky last Wednesday.
"We had a general discussion of the library needs of the area," Makosky said. "I'm interested in seeing that area served with some kind of library."
Williar said, "I think the meeting went along well. They are putting branches in the smaller towns. It might work out."
The committee of two council members and a town resident are expected to gauge the community's needs, see if any buildings are suitable and meet with Makosky.
"About the first or second week of October, they should meet with (Makosky)," Williar said. "Then we'll start from there."
While Williar has expressed reservations about a library in Union Bridge, Carlisle is enthusiastic about the prospect of a branch in New Windsor.
The library's capital budget proposal calls for acquiring $100,000 worth of land in 1992 for a $1.6 million prefabricated structure that would cover 4,000 square feet.
The community branch would replace the twice-monthly, 50-minute bookmobile visits that now service New Windsor.
"With that new development of 400 houses coming, that's naturally going to be a big increase," Carlisle said. "All the towns have a library except (New Windsor and Union Bridge)."
Yet Carlisle said his town of 842 people will probably be the last to get a library branch.
"We're just starting to lay the groundwork," he said. "Getting the new commissioners -- that's the first hurdle we have to clear."