Lansdowne gets its library back today -- brand-new

Facility is reopening after budget cuts in '90s forced it to close


A rug that looks like a pond with a bridge covers the floor of the children's center. A cafe table is placed adjacent to a shelf of the latest DVDs near a mural that says "Teens." Ten new computers and a printer are lined on a table in a third section.

For more than a decade, after budget cuts forced the closing of their library, the people in Lansdowne have had to make do with a bookmobile. Today, they will celebrate the reopening of a new, and better, facility.

"There's nothing like a building," library Director James H. Fish said. "First of all, you offer more services. But also I think, symbolically, it's really a positive kind of thing. It's an integral part of the fabric of the community."

In the 1960s, a large community effort persuaded the county's Board of Library Trustees to invest in what became the Lansdowne Library, which opened in 1966.

The library -- at more than 5,000 square feet -- was among nine small libraries or satellite branches, along with one full-service library, that closed in 1993.

County Executive James T. Smith Jr., County Councilman Stephen G. Samuel Moxley, a Catonsville Democrat, Fish and others worked for years with the employees and patrons of Lansdowne Library in search of funding needed to reopen the library.

"We were constantly working with the library to come up with ideas and the county executive was able to allocate the funding last year," Moxley said. "When we're promoting education, we have to make sure the community has the necessary resources."

Once the funding was obtained, the next step was finding a building.

The location of the original library, as a county building, had been used by other entities since its closing. Coincidentally, however, the programs moved to new locations and the building, at 500 Third Ave., was available to be turned back into a library, Fish said.

Arbutus Library manager Gail Ross, who is overseeing the reopening, said a team was brought together to envision how the library would look on the inside and what services would be included.

As soon as construction was completed, at a cost of $389,000, library staff put up shelving, decorated the walls and stocked the shelves.

"The biggest thrill for us is unpacking box after box of new materials," Ross said. "It's like a bookstore. We think libraries build communities. This is a real center to help people grow and educate themselves."

The library will open with 7,000 items, including books, periodicals, DVDs and CDs, and books on cassettes and CDs. Visitors will also have access to the World Wide Web via 10 public computers or wireless Internet, usable throughout the library; a large community meeting room; and a reference desk.

Fish said today's celebration begins at 9:45 a.m. with the Lansdowne High School String Quartet and will be followed by speeches and the county executive's ribbon-cutting at 10:15 a.m. Other activities include an egg hunt, balloon art, face painting and a magic show.

"This is a place to grow," Ross said. "We all learn all our lives. It's for infants. It's for the middle-aged. It's for seniors. It's for everybody. We all continue to learn, and this opens up the world to everyone."

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