Turners Station library may be saved, after all

March 23, 1993|By Robert A. Erlandson | Robert A. Erlandson,Staff Writer

Turners Station doesn't need Baltimore County to have a library.

In fact, with book donations from the St. Vincent de Paul Society, U.S. Rep. Helen Delich Bentley, R-2nd, and others, the neighborhood may end up with more books and a bigger, better library.

The old mini-library closed last month during County Executive Roger B. Hayden's fiscal slash-and-burn operation. Since then, the Turners Station community has launched its own campaign to reopen the library on a volunteer basis.

Residents of the small, isolated black community south of Dundalk begged the county to let them keep their 3,600 books and operate the library with volunteers, said Peggy Patterson, president of Turners Station Concerned Citizens. The county took the books and the shelves, but left the tables and chairs.

Recent donations should more than cover the loss. The St. Vincent society, a Catholic charity, will donate about 3,000 books. Mrs. Bentley bought several thousand volumes left over from last weekend's 35th annual Smith College Book Sale in Towson. Those books, too, will be donated.

The library closings hit the southeastern part of the county particularly hard. Branches in Dundalk and Edgemere also were closed, leaving only the North Point Library.

Mrs. Patterson said that Turners Station desperately needs a library. Scant public transportation in the area makes it extremely difficult for residents, particularly schoolchildren and elderly people, to get to a library.

"We can't depend on Baltimore County any more," said Mrs. Patterson. "We have to depend on ourselves."

Area communities and churches have collected books. Managers of the recently opened Dundalk Food Mart have agreed to accept books and said the store would contribute money to buy new books.

Mrs. Bentley, who has offered books from her own library to Turners Station, also has arranged for the Library of Congress to contribute surplus books and has provided information on federal grants to help the library.

Mrs. Patterson said the books will be at the Fleming Center, 641 Main St., Turners Station, and will be available on Thursdays until the library reopens. Book contributions can be dropped off at the center any day.

Eventually, Mrs. Patterson said, the Turners Station Library will resume regular hours, 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. It will be sponsored by the Turners Station Recreation Council, on whose board Mrs. Patterson serves.

Joan Griffith, chairman of the Smith College sale, said that Mrs. Bentley made arrangements to buy the unsold books before last weekend's sale. The college had collected 45,000 to 55,000 volumes for the event.

"We're being extremely loose about this," Mrs. Griffith said of the deal with Mrs. Bentley. "We'll probably send her a bill for about $50" for between 3,000 and 4,000 books.

The Smith alumnae also set aside a number of reference works, including an encyclopedia, a thesaurus, dictionaries and several almanacs for the library. Once the sale opened, Mrs. Bentley's aides "bought up armloads of books" for the library, said Mrs. Griffith.

In past years, Mrs. Griffith said, Rotary International has taken the unsold books to help stock libraries overseas, particularly in Latin America. She suggested that this year, after Turners Station has restocked its shelves, any leftover books might be offered to Rotary.

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