`Mini-library' plans to fill void in Lansdowne

3,000-square-foot branch is slated to open next year

July 19, 2004|By Adam Rosen | Adam Rosen,SUN STAFF

More than a decade after budget cuts forced the Lansdowne branch of the Baltimore County Public Library to close, the county plans to open a "mini-library" there early next year.

The budget for the fiscal year that began this month includes $437,000 to open and operate a scaled-down version of a regular branch. The county is looking for space to lease in hopes of having a 3,000-square-foot facility in operation in Lansdowne by January.

Although it would be about a sixth of the size of a typical branch, the new mini-library "will not be simply something with a few best-selling books," library spokesman Bob Hughes said.

The Lansdowne facility would contain more than 12,000 books, and library users would be able to have any book from the county's collection sent there, Baltimore County Public Library Director James H. Fish said. It would have a meeting room and a reference service, and offer Internet access on eight to 10 computers. The facility would be open 59 hours a week.

County Executive James T. Smith Jr. included the money for the library in his budget proposal in the spring. "How best can we enhance a community than providing a library?" he said.

Smith said the library could benefit residents who do not have Internet access in their homes.

Lansdowne had a mini-library, but it was closed in 1993, along with the seven other mini-libraries throughout the county because of a lack of funding. After the closing, Lansdowne residents had to wait for the county's bookmobile or travel to the nearest branch, in Arbutus.

Craig Rankin, president of the Lansdowne Improvement Association, said the community has missed its library.

"It will be a good place for kids to go when school's back in session, because there's very little for them to do back in the community," Rankin said. "We feel if there's nothing for them to do, they're going to wind up getting into trouble, and that's what we are trying to prevent."

Fish said the county is looking for a visible and convenient location with sufficient space for the library.

County officials are also scouting for a more visible location for the Arbutus branch, which is in an out-of-the-way business park, Smith said. Also, he said, the library system is looking to expand the Pikesville and Cockeysville branches.

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