One Library, Two Suitors

January 11, 1994

Choosing between Union Bridge and New Windsor for the location of a new library in Carroll County is no easy task. Both towns would surely benefit from a well-stocked mini-branch, but county government does not have the resources to build, equip and staff two branches in western Carroll. This year, officials will have to make the tough choice and select one town as the site for the new library.

Carroll's Planning Commission avoided the choice when it dropped a proposed modular branch library from next year's capital budget.

The commission appears to be rejecting the idea of building a modular branch in the community of Linwood, which is midway between Union Bridge and New Windsor. As a result, the two towns will have another chance to make their best case for a proposed library.

Union Bridge Mayor Perry L. Jones Jr. correctly points out his town has had a long-standing request for a library. At present, Union Bridge residents have to drive about 12 miles to Westminster or about six miles to Taneytown to borrow books and other materials. A new library would be a significant addition to the town. It would attract more people -- particularly from neighboring Frederick County, whose library system pales in comparison to Carroll's. The additional traffic might also help Union Bridge's struggling business district.

Placing a library in the former New Windsor Middle School, on the other hand, is part of New Windsor Mayor Jack Gullo Jr.'s grand plan to create a town community center out of the old school. While Mr. Gullo's proposal to create a town center has considerable merit, the county has yet to indicate that it will donate the school to the town. If it does, a New Windsor mini-branch might be less expensive to build because it would be in an existing building.

It is encouraging that Carroll's libraries are considered so highly that communities are fighting over them. Unfortunately, not all the towns that want a library can have one.

At present, New Windsor residents are closer to the existing full-service branch in Westminster. Since Union Bridge residents must travel farther to borrow books, it would seem more equitable to locate the branch in that town.

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