Patrons can borrow fishing poles, tackle, from Joppa Library

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Harford County Public Library patrons can borrow fishing gear from the Joppa Library, thanks to a partnership between the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and library systems in four counties, including Harford.

“By engaging the next generation of anglers, we can foster a passion for outdoor recreation and sports, and cultivate an appreciation and love of nature that will last a lifetime,” Natural Resources Secretary Mark Belton said in a statement.

Six fishing poles, as well as assorted tackle and children’s activity books on boating and fishing safety, are available only at the Joppa Library on Joppa Farm Road.

“Not only to we want our customers to fish, we want them to be safe,” Beth LaPenotiere, senior administrator for public services at the Harford library system, said Monday afternoon at the Joppa branch.

Patrons must have an adult library card to check out fishing gear, LaPenotiere said.

Anybody 16 and older who wants to fish recreationally in Maryland’s tidal or non-tidal waters also must have a fishing license, according to a fact sheet available at the Joppa Library.

People can purchase a license at any Walmart store in Harford County, according to the fact sheet. The Arkansas-based retailer operates stores in Aberdeen, Abingdon and Fallston.

Visit the DNR website for more information on fishing and crabbing licenses. See http://dnr.maryland.gov/Pages/service_fishing_license.aspx.

Joyce Ling, a Joppa resident, checked out a pole and gear from the library Monday afternoon, after seeing a sign and the poles behind the circulation desk. She said she borrowed it for her 12-year-old nephew, who is visiting from Charlotte, N.C., during the July 4 holiday this week.

Her nephew has been fishing “once or twice,” she said.

“It’s a good way to get him to try it out,” Ling said of having the pole and gear. She said she expects they will go fishing on the Gunpowder River, indicating the Joppatowne Marina a short distance from the library branch on Towne Center Drive.

“It’s an awesome thing, I love this,” Ling told LaPenotiere as they chatted about the loan program.

Patrons can borrow a pole for up to two weeks, and there is a $2 fee for every day it is late. There is a $15 fee if the pole is damaged — there is no charge for missing hooks or plastic bobbers, according to Leslie Greenly Smith, marketing and communications administrator for the Harford libraries.

“We understand, sometimes it happens with fishing,” Smith said.

The library system has had the fishing gear since April, but the program took off once school let out in mid-June. Patrons can borrow the gear, which was provided through DNR, throughout the year, according to Smith.

She said people can, through the program, “get out in Harford County and really enjoy the beauty of Harford County.”

Smith said the program “really wraps around” many of the disciplines people can learn about through the library — materials are available on catching, preparing and cooking fish — and it ties in with other programs on nature, science and STEM.

“The DNR has been a great partner with us on this,” Smith said. “We couldn’t be happier or more proud to have the poles here.”

Other counties libraries participating in the program include Anne Arundel, Carroll and Frederick, according to DNR.

The Joppa Library is at 655 Towne Center Drive. It is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m. through 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

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