Kate Bloom, 32, of Oakenshawe, a preschool teacher in Hunt Valley, wasn't sure how necessary it is to renovate the library.
"I guess it's old, but libraries are old," she said. "New is good. Old is good, too. Homes are old and they have character."
But "character" is not a word often used to describe the Waverly branch, a concrete and brick structure built for $433,000, that opened in 1971 on the Waverly-Oakenshawe border, opposite the 32nd Street Farmers Market. On one wall of the library's meeting room is posted a 1970 article from the old Baltimore News-American, which described the then-new library as looking like "a fortress."
Some want new branch
That's a word still used by many area residents, who have long clamored not just for renovations, but for a brand new library, saying the current building is an eyesore. Some community leaders, including City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, Sandy Sparks, of Charles Village, and Mark Counselman, of Oakenshawe, have questioned plans for a $6 million renovation. A year ago, Clarke said the city needed to go "back to the drawing board" on renovation plans, because she felt they didn't go far enough.
As recently as January 2013, Sparks held a meeting at her house to strategize on how to convince the city to spend more money and rebuild.
Enoch Pratt Free Library System director Carla Hayden has since acknowledged the public sentiment, saying Clarke has been asking her for years, "Why can't we just build a new one?"
Library system spokesman Roswell Encina said earlier this year, "For $6 million, there's no way we can demolish this building. But that's a pretty penny the Waverly community is getting. By the time this is renovated, it will look like a brand new building."
Plans call for an abundance of glass and upgraded lighting to brighten the building. The front doors would open automatically, and the entrance turnstile would be eliminated. The circulation desk would be more centrally located and shelving would be lower for easier access, she said.
Other features would include a secure drop box, a security station inside the front entrance, a computer lab for programs such as work force development training (in addition to public access computers), a children's area with its own story room, a bank of new windows and a redone parking lot.
The building would also benefit from technology and office equipment upgrades, including a public fax machine, and ceiling projectors and a sound system in the meeting room. The stage in the room would be removed and re-used for the circulation desk, library system officials said.
But Counselman, who has complained in the past that the building was in deplorable condition and should be torn down, said earlier this year, "I don't see how this is so much better than what we have now."
Bloom, browsing in the library Saturday, said renovation would be fine, but the library is all right the way it is.
"It gives me what I need," she said.