Library addition to get funding Eldersburg facility to receive $125,000 for expansion

March 20, 1997|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,SUN STAFF

After four years of asking the county to fund an expansion of the overcrowded Eldersburg library, South Carroll residents have gotten a commitment that the project will move forward this year.

At Tuesday's public hearing on the library's capital budget, attended by about 25 library supporters, county budget director Steven D. Powell indicated that expansion work on the 14-year-old branch will begin as soon as possible.

However, Powell said the county won't be able to fund the entire $448,598 cost of the first phase of the project in fiscal 1998, which begins July 1.

"We've identified $125,000 to begin this project immediately," said Powell, who plans to meet with library officials next week to discuss the expansion.

Full funding or not, Linda Mielke, director of Carroll County's library system, was relieved to learn that the project has been taken off back-burner status.

"Our goal was to get it going, because it had been delayed for the fourth year in a row," she said.

Before Tuesday's meeting, library officials had urged South Carroll residents to demonstrate their support for the expansion because early budget drafts showed the project had been moved to fiscal 1999.

"We didn't want to lose another year," said Scott Reinhart, the library's director of automation, support and technical services. "It's just too crowded."

Built in 1983 to serve a population of 23,800, the 14,000-square-foot Eldersburg branch initially was targeted for expansion in 1993. The library board of trustees has submitted plans annually to renovate the building, but the project repeatedly has been cut from the county's capital budget.

With an annual circulation of 673,000 items, the Eldersburg library is the second-busiest among the county's five branches. The Westminster branch, which accounts for 25 percent of all items borrowed, has a circulation of 750,000.

Supporters of the Eldersburg project told Powell and the County Commissioners on Tuesday that the South Carroll area -- with a 1999 projected population of more than 35,000 -- needs a bigger library.

"We've been through tough budget deliberations to arrive at this top priority," said Robert Sapora, library board chairman. "There are lots of people right now using that library and they're starting to bump into each other."

Phase one would expand the children's area by 3,400 square feet by renovating adjoining space, which will be vacated in June by the county Health Department.

Supporters told the commissioners that the expansion is cost-effective because the space is in an existing building and requires minimal construction.

"As opportunities for fiscal leanness and responsibility go, the Eldersburg expansion is about the best kind of deal we can be looking at for a long time," Sapora said.

The second phase of the project would add 5,000 square feet to adult services at a cost of $616,500.

Barry Marsh, president of Linton Springs Civic Association, which represents 213 homeowners, argued that the library expansion is critical to serve the growing number of students in the South Carroll area.

Bruce Edwards, a 12-year Eldersburg resident, said his three daughters are regulars at their local library.

"We have to take a grocery bag to carry back all the books," he said. "The library is really important to our family."

Pub Date: 3/20/97

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