With state-of-the-art facility, Harford library branches out

Cafe and amphitheater planned for Abingdon

September 03, 2002|By Linda Linley | Linda Linley,SUN STAFF

Construction of a 35,000- square-foot branch of the Harford County Public Library will get under way in Abingdon this month.

The library, projected to cost $7.8 million, is expected to be completed in 12 to 14 months, said Audra L. Caplan, interim director of the county library system. It is being built on 15 acres off Tollgate Road, next to Emmorton Elementary School and less than a mile from Abingdon Elementary School.

"This is our first new building in a long time," Caplan said. "It will be in a growing community, in the county's growth corridor. The library is being built in response to community needs."

Caplan said the new facility will mean more jobs, with the library hiring an additional 38 people, including librarians and circulation staff, some of them part-time employees.

She said the library will be a multifunctional facility that will be a true community center. It will include more than 50 Internet-accessible computers for public use and a 14-station computer training lab, public meeting rooms, a drive-through area to return books, and a cafe. The cafe is a new trend in libraries, she said, and Harford County is lucky to have one of the few systems in the country that offers this feature.

Architect Gary Getz, vice president of Morris & Ritchie Associates Inc., said the glass-fronted, state-of-the-art building will house a children's reading area and one for teen-agers. The site, acquired in 1998, will feature a natural outdoor amphitheater, a botanical study area, open space, and a pond and stream. The outdoor space can be used by neighboring elementary pupils to learn about ecosystems, he said.

Tollgate Road, which stops at Emmorton Elementary, will be paved and will run through to Singer Road when library construction has been completed.

"We are seeing a resurgence in building libraries," Caplan said. Another library, a planned 13,000-square-foot branch for the Jarrettsville area, is expected to be built in 2004, Caplan said.

The new branch, proposed in 1996 for residents in the Abingdon area, will be the system's second-largest facility. The Bel Air library, with the heaviest volume of patrons, has about 50,000 square feet after a recent addition and remodeling.

Caplan said the library system operates nine branches throughout the county and serves more than 171,000 registered borrowers with an annual circulation of nearly 2.5 million items.

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