Carroll library board studies modular structure for branch

November 19, 1993|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff Writer

A new public library in the New Windsor-Union Bridge area could pack in the books, but patrons wouldn't feel crowded, a salesman has told the Carroll County Public Library Board of Trustees.

In a modular library, books are stored on rotating, circular shelves that allow thousands of volumes to be kept in a small space, said Fred E. Goodman, president of Modular Systems Inc. in Washington, D.C.

The library board is considering buying a modular building as a branch for the New Windsor/Union Bridge area.

The board has requested about $1.7 million from the county for the project.

The board asked that the county buy land next year and erect a building the following year. Officials have not chosen a site for the branch.

"What we want to do is serve the most people," associate library director Gail Griffith said.

Mr. Goodman showed slides and discussed his product at the board's meeting Wednesday night.

The company has built modular libraries throughout the country in parks, parking lots, grocery stores, malls and on city street corners, he said.

The buildings have windows all around and are furnished and carpeted.

They're energy-efficient and durable; one survived Hurricane Hugo in Florida, he said.

Books are arranged on racks along the walls, and tables and chairs are set up in the middle of the room.

The space can be converted easily to a meeting room, Mr. Goodman said. The buildings are accessible to the handicapped.

The board is considering buying a 4,220-square-foot building called "the double porta-structure" for the new branch.

The library could display up to 30,000 books and have seating for 65 people.

Board president Kathleen Campanella asked whether the building could be adapted to blend into "a rural, traditional and historic" area.

"My concern is how a contemporary structure would be accepted," she said.

Mr. Goodman said he could "tone down" the colors. Some of the pictures he showed were of libraries with bright red roofs.

"We can put carriage lights on if you want to," he added.

Modular Systems Inc. is the only company that specializes in portable library buildings, library director Linda Mielke said.

Library officials have been investigating using modular buildings branches for about five years, Ms. Griffith said.

The building for the New Windsor-Union Bridge branch would cost about $975,000, Mr. Goodman said. The price includes book racks, desks, chairs, carpeting, lighting, bathroom facilities and other necessities.

Library staff estimate that engineering work, land, equipment and other expenses would bring the total cost of the project to about $1.7 million.

The county Planning Commission is reviewing the request and will make a recommendation to the county commissioners next month on whether the county can afford to begin the project in fiscal 1995, which begins July 1.

The modular building would cost less than a brick-and-mortar building if expenses were calculated per volume, said Scott Reinhart, assistant director for library technical and support services.

The cost for the modular would be $34.80 per volume, he said.

The cost at the Mount Airy branch, which opened in January, was $54 per volume, he said.

The Mount Airy branch, which measures 16,431 square feet and has 71,800 volumes, cost about $2.9 million.

Modular Systems could have the branch library ready to open three to four months after the county placed an order, Mr. Goodman said.

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