Are you tired of driving 20 to 30 minutes to pick up the latest Tom Clancy novel or self-help book?
Relief may be on the way in the form of a new "storefront" library, most likely to be located off Mountain Road in or near the Lake Shore Plaza.
A six-member committee appointed last fall by County Executive Robert R. Neall will meet again March 17 to finalize its recommendations on where the county should locate a library to serve the Mountain Road corridor.
The committee has narrowed down its choices to four sites: two for an interim "store-front" library and two for a full-sized library branch.
Committee members said although the community wants and deserves a full-sized branch, it is more likely to get a smaller temporary branch because of the county's current fiscal crisis.
Committee member Carol Coccia, a 17-year resident of Lake Shore Drive, said the committee is willing to recommend a smaller store-front library if it can be built for residents within the next year.
The committee also is expected to recommend that a full-sized library be built somewhere on the peninsula within the next few years.
"The main objective is to get a library in that area. It's needed. It's long overdue," said Councilman Carl "Dutch" Holland, R-Pasadena, who has worked with the committee. "Get it down there and get it in operation."
The library would serve the communities of Long Point, LakeShore, Gibson Island, Sillery Bay, Boulevard Park, Blossoms Hill, Chelsea Beach, Pinehurst and others.
Coccia said during the committee's last meeting, on Feb. 25, members agreed that Lake Shore Plaza onMountain Road would be the top choice for a store-front library, with the Long Point Mall a runner-up.
Lake Shore is preferable to Long Point because access it better, especially during rush hour, she said.
For a full-sized library, the committee is leaning toward two sites: one is off Woods Road, south of the Mountain Road-Route 100 intersection, on property earmarked for the Lake Shore athletic complex; and one near Woodland Road and Fairwood Drive, north of Mountain road.
The Woods Road site is currently the top choice, Coccia said, because the county already owns close to 100 acres there and would not have to buy more property.
Several other sites that had been considered were dismissed for "logistical" reasons, including the possibility of locating a branch within Chesapeake Middle School or near Bodkin Elementary.
And Jean Tate, a member of the committee, said group may consider more sites for the full-sized branch before finalizing its report March 17.
Edward Hall, the county's library director, said the primary difference between a store-front and regular branch is the size of the collection. A store-front branch, which is smaller physically, will hold about 12,000 books, compared to about 60,000to 65,000 in a full-sized branch.
"We would try to have all the basics, the more 'in-demand' items" in a store-front branch, he said. For more obscure or scholarly books, residents still would have to travel to another branch.
The store-front library would have smallerchildren's and reference sections and would not carry some services,such as a computerized index for magazine articles.
But even witha store-front branch, many of the community's library needs could bemet, committee members say.
"Students would be able to do term papers and research," Hall said, adding that high school students mightchoose to go elsewhere but elementary and middle school students would be satisfied with the collection.
Residents living on the Mountain Road peninsula now have to drive to Severna Park, Harundale or Riviera Beach if they want to use a public library, Hall said.
Afterresidents collected more than 4,500 signatures four years ago askingfor their own branch, the county executive agreed to put money in the capital improvements program for a library.
Greg Nourse, the library committee chairman and a budget analyst for the county, said thecurrent capital budget includes $595,310 for a Pasadena library branch, which may be enough to cover a store-front facility. A full-sizedbranch would cost about $4 million, he said.
Holland said it is unlikely enough money would be appropriated this year for a full-sizedbranch. "My opinion is that it would be very difficult to finance something like that at this time," he said.
The committee's recommendations must be turned over to the county executive by March 30, whenthe annual review of the capital improvements budget begins.