Pasadena Library: An Instant Hit

August 09, 1994

Anne Arundel County had an instant winner in the long-awaited new Mountain Road library that opened in the Long Point Mall Aug. 6. During the four hours of operation on opening day, an average of 688 items was checked out each hour.

A total of 15 branches now serves Anne Arundel's population of 434,700. The system will expand further in the future, when a small branch in Maryland City is relocated to the Russett Center development and a large facility is built in the rapidly growing Crofton area.

The Mountain Road branch has a collection of 55,000 items. In addition to adult fiction and non-fiction sections it houses a children's collection and a large selection of educational and children's video cassettes, as well as compact discs, audio cassettes and "books on tape."

Today's libraries are multi-media centers. The Mountain Road branch is no exception. In addition to an IBM-486 computer and software for public use, there are several electronic reference tools to assist students and researchers. One CD-ROM product, Magazine Express, includes a database of 140 popular magazines from Time and Business Week to Sports Illustrated and Parents.

Getting the $1.6 million facility opened took a decade of petition drives and lobbying. No wonder Sue Fortner, a Pasadena resident, sighed, "Our dream has come true."

The grand opening reflected the deep community involvement.

Local businesses donated refreshments, printing and balloons. Chesapeake Women's Club, which first petitioned to open a branch 10 years ago, donated a book. Sillery Bay Improvement Association donated an oak-framed community bulletin board in memory of local activist Ed Roach, who was among the early proponents of a branch.

It is amazing that libraries have so much difficulty in securing funding. They are among the key ingredients of a desirable community. They foster civic virtues, they create neighborhood activists.

Anne Arundel County now has four library branches in shopping centers. And why not? In today's urbanizing counties, shopping centers often have a role similar to town centers of yesteryear. People feel comfortable in them because malls are seen as safe and have ample parking.

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