The library collection at Annapolis Middle School was never large. But since last year, it had been shrinking noticeably.
First came a weeding-out, as Laury D. Lear, then the school's new media specialist, tossed 100 boxes of the oldest titles - including books on making jewelry using toxic lead and on career choices dating to the 1960s. Then a pile of books was lost over the summer, damaged after being moved from the library during asbestos removal.
The $12,000 a year the school receives for media center supplies doesn't leave much for buying hardcovers and paperbacks. Instead, much of it pays for circulation software, paper and ink cartridges for the school's printers and the school's laminator.
"Usually, our budget is so tight," Lear said.
But yesterday, she was in what heaven must be for librarians, unpacking box after box of new books - more than 2,600 titles. The books will spend today and tomorrow as part of "Library of the Future," a display at the Maryland Technology Showcase at the Baltimore Convention Center.
After that, the books will move to their new home, the thinly populated shelves at Annapolis Middle.
"It's like having Christmas," said Jay Bansbach, a library supervisor for the county public schools.
For the fourth year, a model working library has been a feature of the technology showcase, one with real books on real shelves, said Gail Bailey, who oversees library media services for the Maryland State Department of Education.
This year's library includes advances in circulation, electronic books and technology to help students with disabilities use computers. But it would be nothing without the books.
Each year, book vendors have stocked the display and sold them to a Maryland school district at a deeply discounted price. Last year, Meade High School was the recipient.
Annapolis Middle School will get an estimated $65,000 to $75,000 worth of books for $50,000, with the county school system's library department picking up the tab.
"It's a good project for us because it allows us to be able to make an impact on a school's collection," Bansbach said. "Usually, [it takes] quite a few years to make that kind of impact."
Lear and her middle school's teachers got to pick the books. There are titles on drawing, history and Denver Broncos running back Terrell Davis. There are poets - Shel Silverstein's "Where the Sidewalk Ends" and Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass" - and J.K. Rowling's wildly popular Harry Potter.
The dated books in the school's collection have meant an extra lesson for Lear to teach. She has had to show her students how to determine the age of the books and whether the information they contain is out of date. The seventh-graders study world history and were recently trying to find Russia on a map. Her books included the Soviet Union, with no mention of the country's current name.
"We have a very old collection, and most of our books are not very inviting," she said. "These are very inviting. Our kids are going to love these books. I can't wait to see the looks on the kids' faces when we have all of them out in our old media center.
"That will be the best of all."