Library stacks up very well New facility at community college offers many resources

'It's gorgeous'

$7 million building is seen as proof of school's coming of age

November 06, 1997|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,SUN STAFF

Within a few weeks, the new library at Carroll Community College in Westminster will be glutted with students getting acquainted with the facility just in time for term-paper season.

Workers are polishing and moving furniture in the library. But patrons began using it Monday.

"It's gorgeous," said David Schaffer, 30, of Eldersburg, as he sat at one of the study carrels made of gleaming cherry-finished wood and teal laminate.

This library has brains as well as beauty. Schaffer had plugged his laptop into a convenient outlet. Electrical and data outlets for patrons' laptops are among the features of the $7 million building.

"It looks like there will be a lot more resources than [in] the old library," said Schaffer, who hopes to graduate in the spring with an associate's degree in business administration.

"I've always wanted to take a step farther and maybe didn't because the resources weren't there," he said of his research and study.

He sees the library as physical proof of Carroll Community College's rise in the academic world, with accreditation and independence from Catonsville Community College a few years ago.

The new library is 10 times larger than the old one -- about 51,000 square feet compared with 5,000 square feet. The 20,000 volumes housed in the old space, which was at the front of the second floor of the main building, were moved into the new library, joining 5,000 volumes that had been stored in anticipation of the move.

The college is spending about $100,000 a year on books and materials, and it plans to obtain 40,000 volumes in three years, said Paul McAdam, associate vice president for learning resources and director of the library.

"The nature of our services has not changed," McAdam said.

Even in the old space, he said, the library had moved into the electronic age with an online catalog and computers available for CD-ROM and Internet use.

But now, instead of having to return to the reference area to consult the catalog, patrons can use any of the eight ports throughout the stacks.

It will save time and maybe prompt them to go a step further as they explore the collection, McAdam said.

In addition to the computers available near the reference desks, users may bring their laptops and plug them into data ports throughout the library. This will give them the same access as the in-house computers to the Internet and other online resources.

"I think here we just have a facility geared to our needs, to our students' needs and what we hope will be appropriate for the beginning of the new century," McAdam said.

As much as McAdam and students rave about the function of the new space, they can't help commenting on the aesthetics.

"When we were in the design stage, I said to the architect, 'I don't want this building to look like all the other buildings on this campus. It's getting monotonous,' " McAdam said.

He suggested a round building, and everyone from the architects -- Probst Mason Inc. of Baltimore with the Hillier Group of Princeton, N.J. -- to the County Commissioners liked the concept. But despite the rounded exterior and interior walls, the floor plan inside gives the impression that the building is square.

McAdam said some round libraries have a radial layout inside, which wastes space. "Here, we have lost very little," he said.

The building includes conference rooms, media rooms for group viewing of videotapes for classes and a room built to teach students how to use the library and its electronic resources. This instruction will be part of English 101, a course many students at the college take.

McAdam said a revolution has occurred between the design of the library and the opening. Much of the space planned for periodicals can be used for books, because so many periodicals are available on CD-ROM.

When college President Joseph F. Shields arrived in 1990, one of the first decisions he made was to move the library up on the construction schedule of the emerging campus. The college had just opened its main building and had a classroom addition under construction.

Shields gave the library higher priority for two reasons: It was vital to the college's goal of independence from Catonsville, of which it had been a branch, and it was only one-third as big as it should have been for a school that size.

"I tell people the library is the heart of an institution of higher education, and right now we're being kept alive through an artificial heart," he said.

The "heart transplant" took place three days last week, when the old library closed Wednesday through Friday to enable the transfer of books into the new space, which opened to the public at 8: 30 a.m. Monday.

A dedication will be held at 10 a.m. Nov. 14.

The $7 million project was paid for through a $4.3 million state grant, with almost all the rest coming from the county.

Random House Inc. provided $250,000 for the building's foundation. The college has named the building the Random House Learning Resources Center.

The library constitutes the first two floors, and the third floor consists of the Academic Services Center, a classroom and a teleconferencing room.

The latter two will allow students or employees of local companies to take courses through fiber-optic or video feeds.

Pub Date: 11/06/97

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