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News Maryland Harford County Forest Hill

Harford library board approves Sunday hours for Jarrettsville branch

Sunday hours were established last week for the Jarrettsville branch, making it the fourth library branch in the county to have Sunday hours.

Board members voted on the Sunday hours, which were announced during the budget season in the spring, during Thursday's Harford County Public Library Board of Trustees meeting Thursday. They were also briefed on another successful Summer Reading Program in which Harford young people read nearly 100,000 books.

The branch in Jarrettsville, along with those in Bel Air, Abingdon and Aberdeen, will be open from 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays from October through April.

Board members Nancy Brown, Susan Hazlett, Rebecca Robinson, Bruce Smith, Vice Chairperson Alex Allman and Chairperson Louise LeTendre voted yes; Smith also cast an affirmative proxy vote for member Dominic Cottone, who was absent Thursday.

Board Treasurer Kenneth Avery and member Dwayne Adams were also absent.

During a 15-minute public hearing on Sunday hours for the Jarrettsville, no one from the public commented.

Library Director Mary Hastler said after the meeting that the Sunday hours for the four branches will begin the first Sunday in October, which is Oct. 6, and will be in effect through late April, except for holidays.

Summer reading

Board members also recognized the four schools that took top prizes in the library system's 2013 Summer Reading Program.

Representatives of Ring Factory Elementary, Patterson Mill Middle, Patterson Mill High and the John Archer School received trophies for their accomplishments of having the highest completion rate in their categories.

Claudia Sumler, senior administrator for public services, said 16,093 children and teens in Harford County signed up for the Summer Reading Program, and 7,642 completed it.

The participants read 99,562 books, Sumler said.

"This is always my favorite board meeting," she said of the tradition of recognizing top achievers in summer reading. Sumler is due to retire effective Nov. 1.

She noted that students at John Archer School, which serves students with special needs, "really needed a trophy all of their own," considering the challenges they face.

Sumler said John Archer's completion rate was 74 percent of its student population for 2013.

"It's an awesome achievement for any school," she said after the meeting.

Janine Lis, marketing manager for the library system, said later that John Archer received a special award, since the school serves special needs children, between ages 3 and 21 in all grades, and is not be part of the elementary, middle or high school category.

Director's report

Hastler provided an update on the Havre de Grace branch replacement project. Library officials plan to replace the existing one-story branch at North Union and Pennington avenues with a larger two-story branch.

Library officials hope to break ground next fall, and are developing the designs for the new branch and seeking a temporary location in Havre de Grace to continue to provide branch services.

"Many, many people, not just in Havre de Grace, but throughout the entire county, are really interested in this library project," Hastler told board members.

She said library leaders plan to narrow their selection of temporary sites next week, and will work through the county to get a contract approved for a site.

Hastler said she wants people to have the sense of, "it's not my building, its not the staff's building, it's for the community and 100 years from now people are still saying it's a really great library building."

Officials are also planning a "refresh" of the lobby of the Aberdeen branch, which includes replacing the circulation desk to free up space for customers and staff.

A refreshing of the teen area in the Bel Air branch is also nearing completion; it includes new carpet, paint, flat-screen television and wall clock.

Hastler noted the Aberdeen and Darlington branches are "next in line" for feasibility studies; a feasibility study regarding the Havre de Grace branch revealed it needed to be replaced.

A vendor was recently selected for Harford County's Facilities Master Plan, a review of all county facilities including library branches.

The library system's Little Leapers program also earned it an Innovator of the Year Award, presented by The Daily Record newspaper.

The Little Leapers program is designed to promote early literacy, and science and math skills, for children from infants to 5 years old.

Hastler said library staff will receive the award during a reception Oct. 2 at the Visionary Arts Museum in Baltimore.

Fundraiser coming

In addition to the vote in favor of Sunday hours at the Jarrettsville branch, board members also voted 7-0 to close the Abingdon branch early on Nov. 2 to prepare for the library system's ninth annual fundraising gala to benefit the Harford County Public Library Foundation.

A murder mystery based on the board game Clue will be the theme of this year's gala, called "It Happened in the Library." Top county officials such as Harford County Executive David Craig, County Council President Billy Boniface and Hastler herself, will portray characters from the game, potential murder suspects.

The board approved closing the Abingdon branch at noon on Nov. 2, but leaving the drive-through window open until late afternoon to accommodate customers who wish to pick up and return materials or pay fines, Hastler explained.

Lyme disease awareness

Boniface, the County Council's liaison to the library board, thanked the library system for its support of the Harford Lyme Advocates, a support group formed over the summer to assist those living with the disease, as well as their friends and family members.

Boniface, who contracted the disease earlier this year, said the next support group meeting will be Thursday at 5:30 p.m. in the Bel Air branch.

"It's a great opportunity to learn more about a disease that affects a lot more people than we realize," he said.

Lyme disease is a tick-borne ailment that can cause arthritis, along with issues for the brain, heart and nervous system, according to Web MD.

In May, when the County Council proclaimed May Lyme Disease Month to promote awareness, Boniface announced he is battling the disease.

"I'm well on the road to recovery, but I'm bound and determined to help some other people so they don't have to do through what I've been [through]," Boniface told library board members.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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