Coffee, tea or library books

South Carroll branch considers adding vending machines

Trend toward food areas

March 09, 2001|By Maria Blackburn | Maria Blackburn,SUN STAFF

Eldersburg library patrons could soon be taking out a cup of coffee with the latest John Grisham and Harry Potter novels.

Carroll County Public Library is considering adding a vending machine area to the bustling South Carroll branch when a 3,000-square- foot expansion and renovation are complete.

"The rule at libraries was always that you have to shush and you can't eat," said library director Linda Mielke, who presided over a recent library board meeting where the issue was discussed. "We're trying to build a library of the future. It seems to me that books are associated with coffee these days."

The library board agreed to amend the library's rules of conduct to allow food and drink in designated areas.

Putting coffee bars in libraries is a national trend. Last summer, the new Glenwood library branch in western Howard County opened with latte and muffins available.

The Eldersburg branch would be the first library in Carroll to add food and drink.

The $700,000 expansion and renovation of the Eldersburg branch, built in 1983, was approved by Carroll commissioners a year ago. Construction will start in July, according to Thomas J. Rio, chief of Carroll's bureau of building construction.

Improvements will include:

* A relocated building entrance and an expanded children's area off the former entrance.

* Better traffic flow and a reconfigured parking lot for more cars.

* A larger public meeting room.

The Eldersburg branch expanded two years ago into space that became available when the Health Department, which had shared the building, centralized its operations in Westminster.

"The branch was too small," Mielke said. "We need more books and materials and we need more room for technology. We're gaining space and our customers are gaining convenience."

The Eldersburg branch is one of the library's busiest, circulating 65,000 items a month, or about 26 percent of the Carroll library system's books and materials. It leads the county's five branches in the circulation of children's materials, Mielke said.

Renovations are expected to be completed within a year.

The Carroll County library system is among the busiest in Maryland, according to the Maryland Department of Education's Division of Library Development and Services. It circulates more books, periodicals, tapes and videos per person than any other county library system in the state -19.93 items per person per year.

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