'Please Don't Move Our Library'

Patrons Young And Old Are Glum Aboutpossible Move Of Bel Air Branch

April 19, 1992|By Carol L. Bowers | Carol L. Bowers,Staff writer

Taking crayon in hand, 5-year-old Kerry Rinehart wrote a one-line letter to the director of Harford's public library system.

It said, "Please don't move our library."

Kerry and her younger sister and brother visit the Bel Air library branch at least twice a week with their mother, Pam.

On sunny, warm days, they walk there.

But that may not be possible much longer, said Pam Rinehart, if the library's Board of Trustees acts on a proposal that calls for the Bel Air branch building to be traded to theBoard of Education.

In exchange, the library would get seven acres on MacPhail Road, part of the Homestead-Wakefield Elementary Schoolproperty, and would be able to build a $4 million facility that could be opened by 1995.

"I can appreciate they want a bigger facility," said Carroll Rinehart, Pam's husband. "But it (the library) can't be too bad when you consider the Board of Education is eager to get its hands on it."

The Rineharts, who live on Webster Street, and some of their neighbors oppose the move.

Neighbor Annette Blum, for example, said she takes her four children to the library at least once a week.

Blum said the proposed location at the corner of South Atwood Road and MacPhail Road, just outside town, will not be as accessible as the library's present location on North Hickory Avenue in the heart of Bel Air.

Tim Mallory said he would rather see the Bel Air library building used only as a children's library, than see it closed completely.

Jennifer Caulfield, who lives on East Broadway, said one of the main attractions to living in Bel Air is the small-town atmosphere and access to town facilities.

"I think they could build a new branch and leave this one here. I really think an Abingdon-area branch could be supported by that area," said Caulfield. "For all of us who stay home with our kids, it's a ritual to walk to the library."

The Rineharts also agreed that if Bel Air loses the library, part of the town's small-town image will be lost.

"Those of us in the older part of Bel Air feel like we're being abandoned. They moved the post office to a part of town that isn't convenient. It's not the neighborhood post office any more. There are a lot of parallels here," said Pam Rinehart.

Philip A. Place, director of Harford's library system, replied to Kerry's request in a letter that arrived earlier this month.

"I am sure you know the library is very crowded, and we cannot provide all the books and services you need at the present building, and that lot is so small it is very difficult to make the building larger," wrote Place.

"So you see, in order to keep upwith our growing community and to be able to offer the materials ourpatrons want, we have had to look for a larger site for a new building."

Pam Rinehart said she was pleased Place responded to Kerry's letter, and in language the child could understand, "without soundinglike he was talking down to her."

"I'm sure he's a very nice man,but I don't agree with his reasons," said Pam Rinehart. "My biggest concern is that there doesn't seem to be a way for the public to maketheir feelings known."

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