Expand the Eldersburg library Use of health agency space offers cost-effective plan to meet demand.

March 06, 1997

ELDERSBURG is a rapidly growing area, a fact that appeals to some people and is anathema to others. But one aspect of growth in that South Carroll community should be encouraging to the county as a whole -- the increased use of the public library.

The Eldersburg branch is second only to Westminster in customer use, and would be the busiest if not for the limited parking. Built in 1982, the branch is bursting at the seams, as the population has jumped by more than half. The recent opening of nearby Oklahoma Road Middle School adds to demands on this branch.

For four years, a proposal to expand the busy branch has failed to survive final county budget cuts.

Now county budget officials want to postpone it another year; this despite the exceptional opportunity to increase space by 60 percent with a significant cost savings.

The adjacent county Health Department office is downsizing due to state program cuts, allowing for an easy expansion of the library's children's section that would involve the removal of a wall between the two county facilities. The cost would be about $1.2 million, including a 5,000-square-foot extension for adult services and expanded parking. It would serve Carroll's fastest growing region well into the next century.

As Maryland's top county in per-capita book borrowing, with 80 percent of residents holding library cards, Carroll has traditionally been a strong supporter of library service. Outspoken defense of the library system by taxpayers was one reason for the larger county budget (with a property tax increase) last year.

To increase public pressure for the project, libraries director Linda Mielke is mobilizing support from business and community organizations in South Carroll. She has asked them to press for the branch expansion at budget request hearings held by the county commissioners this month.

Ms. Mielke has been an innovator and a forceful advocate of the library system in Carroll County. Her letter-writing campaign for the Eldersburg expansion is in keeping with her leadership role.

That activist position may not please everyone, but it should find a particularly supportive response in the county that reads.

Pub Date: 3/06/97

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