Loch Raven area residents fight to get a library back Branch on Taylor Avenue closed in 1993 budget cuts

December 24, 1996|By Suzanne Loudermilk | Suzanne Loudermilk,SUN STAFF

Due to incorrect information provided by the Baltimore County Library, a Dec. 24 article on efforts to reopen the Loch Raven library branch should have said that the Jacksonville, Lansdowne and Turners Station minilibraries closed in 1993.

The Sun regrets the errors.

Loch Raven area residents lost more than a library when their branch closed in 1993 because of budget cuts. They lost a sense of community, they say.

Now, they're fighting back -- mobilizing neighbors to join committees, signing petitions and writing letters to County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger to get a library for their area. They've also planned a Jan. 30 open forum to discuss the library campaign.

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION

"If I have to go door to door, I'll do that to get signatures," said Peggy Lombardi, a Hillendale resident who several years ago gathered 7,000 names when the county announced it was shutting down the Loch Raven branch because of budget cuts during a previous administration.

She added, "I was so upset when they were talking about closing the library, I felt like moving out of the area."

Residents say they miss being able to walk to the community library, which was on Taylor Avenue.

They also say library branches in Towson and Parkville are not convenient, and that many senior citizens and students don't have transportation.

"Losing the library was a tremendous blow," said Loch Raven Village resident Wayne Skinner. "When it closed, our sense of community diminished."

But Ruppersberger's office said a full-service Loch Raven library is not a priority, although the county may consider a scaled-down version.

"The budget is better, but not that much better," said Michael H. Davis, Ruppersberger's spokesman. "We might be able to do something on a smaller basis with some community involvement to get a presence."

The residents also approached Jim Fish, the library's new director, with their concerns.

"My heart certainly goes out to them," he said. "I know what a library means to a community. But it's been a struggle to provide the level of service people need and want."

Fifteen full-service libraries are in the county, with a circulation of almost 11 million items.

"It is one of the busiest [library systems] in the country," Fish said.

Three minilibraries are in Jacksonville, Turners Station and Lansdowne. They offer basic service but have no reference materials.

"We want more than a reading room," said Donna Spicer, president of the Towson-Loch Raven Community Council. "We will need everyone in the community to pitch in and do this."

Some options residents are exploring is a library branch that would have books to check out, computer access to the main branch, volunteer help with limited full-time staffing and space for other county agencies.

Members also have the support of Towson Republican Councilman Douglas B. Riley.

Closing the library "was one of the great disasters of my first term of office," Riley said. "I'd like to see that mistake corrected."

Pub Date: 12/24/96

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