Local libraries tailor service

The Storyville in Rosedale, for those on the east side of the county, and in Woodlawn, for those on the west side, is one of the most visible, and popular, ways the Baltimore County Library uses to serve its patrons.

But the concept requires a significant amount of land and money, making it difficult to have multiple locations around the county.

So area branches offer other services for county residents.

At the Arbutus Library, projects in the planning stages include working with the nearby campuses of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and the Community College of Baltimore County in conjunction with the Catonsville Library, said the new Arbutus Library manager, Bob Maranto.

"We're also examining possible outreach with Brightview (senior living facility)," Maranto said.

The early literacy center in the children's area at the Arbutus Library is a bright, roomy area where youngsters can learn the joys of reading, for example.

"It's important for libraries to meet the customer where they are, physically, obviously, but also what their needs are and what their expectations are," said Maranto, an assistant manager at Arbutus, Catonsville and Woodlawn before serving as branch manager at Catonsville and Essex.

Maranto said the meeting rooms the libraries offer to community groups, for example, provide more than a place to gather for a nominal fee.

"They (attendees) have to walk through the library," he said. "So they see all this stuff, the computers, the music, the books. And it's free!"

He said the library's computers are often busy, as was the case last week when more than half a dozen patrons were at the computers less than 20 minutes after the library opened.

Patrons use the machines to catch up their email, post to their Facebook accounts, search for jobs and do research for school or work projects, he said.

"But I think desktop usage has decreased over the years as our wireless network has caught on," said Maranto, who was finishing up his first week on the job last week.

Concepts such as computers and e-books are no longer new, Catonsville Library Manger Melissa Gotsch pointed out.

"Customers are very mobile," she said. "So what we offer are choices. If you missed the puppet show at Catonsville this week, it's happening at Woodlawn next week, for example."

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