Kuethe Library seeks outside help Trust fund no longer enough

November 04, 1992|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,Staff Writer

For the first time since it welcomed readers in 1934, the Kuethe Library is asking an outside contributor to help keep it open.

Trustees are requesting that the Glen Burnie Improvement Association, which dedicated a piece of land for the library to be built on 60 years ago, contribute $3,000 a year toward maintaining the red brick building.

"We've managed to operate these many, many years without having to go outside," said Henry L. Hein, president of the library building's board of trustees. "The only thing we want to do is survive."

But now, said Mr. Hein, who also is the chairman of the board of the Bank of Glen Burnie, income from the $25,000 trust that William and Rose Kuethe established for the library no longer covers upkeep.

When the trust was started in 1932, a 6 percent yield "carried the building," he said. But with lower interest rates and higher operating costs, "that's nothing today," he said.

Because of its age, the single-story, two-room library on Crain Highway needs constant maintenance. Some major systems, such as electric lines and plumbing, have been updated. The front steps were rebuilt in recent years.

"The heating plant is old, for one thing," said Mr. Hein. Outside, white trim needs constant repainting.

Terms of the trust specify that the money must be used to maintain the building as a library. Since October 1991, it has housed the reference collections of the Ann Arrundell County Historical Society and Anne Arundel Genealogical Society. The historical society pays for heat and other utilities, but does not pay rent.

The county's Office of Workforce Development pays the historical society $250 a month to use the basement for a life skills training program, and has installed a bathroom and repaired the basement, said Dorothy McGuinness, office director. However, that program will leave Glen Burnie in December or January, she said.

For the historical society, which charges $1 a day for nonmembers to use the library, the $250 is tough to make up.

"We definitely need some help there," said Mark N. Schatz, vice president of the organization, who with Mr. Hein appealed to the GBIA for the annual contribution toward Kuethe's upkeep.

"They are going to be a line item" when the proposed 1993 budget is unveiled at the GBIA meeting Tuesday, said Muriel G. Carter, GBIA president. This will allow the association's membership to discuss the contribution separately and then vote on it.

The organization's board agreed last month to add Kuethe into its fiscal package. The civic group made about $27,000 in pTC line-item contributions to community groups this year.

The Kuethe Library predates the county's public library system. It was the first library in Glen Burnie. Staffed by volunteers, it housed books donated by the community; before that, a storage room in the Masonic Temple held donated books.

Kuethe's operation was absorbed into the county library system in 1957, though the library trustees continued to maintain the property. When the North County Library opened in 1969 in Harundale, Kuethe became a reading room, with patrons dwindling to a dozen a day.

Anticipating that the county would no longer fund its $21,000 a year operation -- it was the most expensive library to run -- trustees shut the library in June 1991. The historical society offered to move its collection from the Benson-Hammond House in Linthicum, where its library was squeezed and there were fears that the growing collection would collapse the historical house.

For Mr. Hein, the Kuethe Library holds a sentimental attachment. He went there as a boy: "It was quiet. You were invited in by their rules or you were invited out."

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