Thomas and Juanita Spehnkouch were checking out house plans yesterday and trying to find a challenging mystery for their fourth-grade son at Eldersburg Library.
While their preschooler occupied himself with a pile of picture books in the children's area, Mr. Spehnkouch browsed the adult stacks for information on outboard motors.
The family left with everything they needed. If the library -- the county's second busiest branch -- can't find more space, new patrons may not be so fortunate.
Scott Reinhart and Dottie Wolf have just about filled the 14,400-square-foot building on West Hemlock Drive. They need about 10,000 square feet more for the growing collection, which 250,000 patrons use each year.
"We don't want to get rid of things people use, but we are at that point," said Mr. Reinhart, the library's assistant director for support and technical services.
Even the overflow carts are full, said Ms. Wolf, manager at Eldersburg. The staff is as cramped as the bookshelves. And two librarians share what used to be a storage closet.
A year ago, the county opened an additional elementary school in the South Carroll area, which the nine-year-old library serves. A new middle school also is slated. Library Director Martha Makosky, said every new school puts more pressure on the library. "Then we have a burgeoning population of home schools and day care mothers, who need our services," she said.
In a pitch for more room, the library invited the commissioners to see where it has room to grow -- on both its east and west sides.
"We opened with 40,000 items and now we have 100,000," said Mr. Reinhart, as he led yesterday's tour. "This is still a beautiful branch and it is creatively designed."
The adult section could double its capacity by expanding into the adjoining parking lot, he said. The county owns adjacent land for additional parking.
The children's area could add another 5,000 square feet by knocking down a wall and taking over the offices of the South Carroll Health Department.
Larry Leitch, the county's deputy health officer, said he is reluctant to vacate that space.
Several different groups, including community rehabilitation programs, use the building. Since no other place is available in the area, he said, all the clients would have to come to Westminster for services.
"We asked the county Planning Commission to let us keep the space," he said. "It is the county's building, and ultimately the decision rests with the commissioners."
The library has requested $109,200 to plan the expansion in fiscal 1994 and $1,655,200 to complete it the following year.