Residents hear plan to restore library Ruppersberger letter proposes minifacility in former Loch Raven school

March 05, 1997|By Suzanne Loudermilk | Suzanne Loudermilk,SUN STAFF

After promising to support a community library in the Loch Raven area, County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger has outlined plans to follow through with his proposal.

The minilibrary -- the first library proposed since eight county branches were closed in 1993 -- would be at the former Loch Raven Elementary School on Glen Keith Boulevard and staffed mainly by volunteers. And, in an unexpected move, Ruppersberger said two full-time positions for the scaled-down library would be included in his 1997-1998 budget, according to a letter to residents.

"It's like our heart and soul are coming back to us," said Wayne Skinner, a Loch Raven Village resident and member of the Towson-Loch Raven Community Council. "Ever since the library closed, the issue has never gone away."

"I'm certain the County Council will back the proposal," said Towson Councilman Douglas B. Riley, who has supported the community's efforts. "It's a great first step in getting a library re-established over there."

Since the Loch Raven branch of the Baltimore County Public Library on Taylor Avenue was closed because of budget cuts, residents have sought its return. The effort gained momentum last fall when the community council began a petition-gathering and letter-writing campaign.

At a January meeting, Ruppersberger suggested establishing a smaller version -- in a different location -- of the community's former, full-service library. Several residents in the standing-room-only crowd of almost 300 expressed disappointment.

Ruppersberger addressed those concerns in a letter sent to about 140 people last week.

"Unfortunately, we are unable to fund the project at this time," he wrote, adding that the start-up and operating budget for a regular library is almost $4 million, and the annual operating cost about $1 million. He also said no other county space is available where current tenants of the former library site -- a health center and county Department of Social Services Child Advocacy Center -- could be moved.

Yesterday, many community members said they were pleased with Ruppersberger's plan for a new facility -- no matter where it is located.

"My feeling is it's better to have some sort of library," said Kim Pavlosky, a Ridgeleigh resident and mother of two children. "It's important for every child to have resources they don't have to drive to."

Many details of the library's operation, including the daily schedule, have not been decided. But initial plans call for the library to have computers, student research tools such as atlases and encyclopedias, and other books.

Lynn Wheeler, the county library's assistant director, stressed the new library would be different from the smaller reading rooms at Turners Station and Pikesville -- projects supported through the county Office of Community Conservation with grants. The library system is not involved in their operation except for technical advice, she said.

The county has 15 full-service libraries, with a circulation of almost 11 million items. The new Loch Raven minibranch is expected to open during the summer or in early fall, Michael H. Davis, Ruppersberger's spokesman, said yesterday.

According to Ruppersberger's letter, the county is surveying the former school building, which was constructed in 1945, to determine maintenance and design needs for the library. It also is reviewing the need for additional parking.

Several other groups, including a senior center and tiny tots program, now use the facility. The county would gain space for the new library by moving its Bureau of Utilities office to Fullerton.

"There's a lot more work ahead of us," Skinner said. "But things are falling into place."

Pub Date: 3/05/97

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