ODENTON AND CROFTON residents got an unexpected holiday present just before Christmas when Anne Arundel County Executive John G. Gary promised regional libraries for both communities within the next two years.
"That's a major coup for me," Mr. Gary said. "I wasn't sure we could do one."
If everything goes as Mr. Gary plans, the county would build a 20,000- to 25,000-square-foot facility in Crofton in fiscal year 1998, which begins July 1. During the following fiscal year, a 40,000-square-foot library would be opened in what is now a bowling alley in Odenton.
Unless something unforeseen occurs, this announcement should end feuding between the two communities over who deserves to get what.
Crofton area residents have been arguing that their existing 14,000-square-foot library is as busy as a regional library. Odenton-area folks, meanwhile, have countered by pointing out that their community is among the hottest growth areas in the county.
The two planned libraries underscore how far Anne Arundel has come since 1920, when its library system was born in one room in the Annapolis Municipal Building. It was open from 3 to 5: 30 three afternoons a week. It had a donated collection of 2,000 volumes and a staff of volunteers.
Eventually, the first paid librarian received $25 a month. In 1935, a group of citizens, still dependent on donations and volunteers, took steps toward establishing small collections at other sites throughout the county.
Not until 1947 did Anne Arundel County make money available to build libraries. Since this enabled it to receive matching funds from the state, facilities began growing rapidly. Eventually the system outgrew storefronts and rented houses, where the libraries were initially located, and free-standing buildings were constructed.
Throughout the nation and the world, libraries are in the midst of an electronic revolution. It is impossible to predict where that revolution will lead. But libraries remain vital resources for children and adults alike. Mr. Gary's plan will go a long way toward improving the quality of life and the sense of community in western Anne Arundel.
Pub Date: 1/10/97