Since the 1960s, the Laurel Library has been named in honor of former city commissioner, mayor and state comptroller Charles H. Stanley.
However, when the most popular library in Prince George's County reopens after a $14 million expansion and renovation project, it may have a different name, much to the dismay of Mayor Craig Moe.
According to Sylvia Bolivar, president of the Prince George's County Board of Library Trustees, Stanley's name will no longer be incorporated into the branch's name per library policy.
"The Board believes that naming a branch library according to its location helps the public to find libraries close to their neighborhoods, whereas a building named after a person, tends to render a library harder to find," Bolivar wrote to Moe in a letter dated Jan. 22.
Kathleen Teaze, director of the library system, echoed Bolivar and said it keeps consistency among the system.
"At this point, the board has decided that they would prefer to name it as we name all of our branches," Teaze said. "The reason for that is we consider each branch as part of a system. ... It's very hard to decide who to name something after in a county as large as we are."
Moe said dropping the Stanley name would show a lack of respect for Stanley's public service to the city and the state. In his letter, Moe points out that Stanley was Laurel's second mayor, serving from 1891 to 1893, and founded Citizens National Bank, serving as president from 1880 to 1913.
"I think it's the right thing to do. It's history," Moe said. "We should recognize and continue to keep the name of the building."
Moe, in a letter dated Feb. 10 to Bolivar, said the name should be retained to "preserve and maintain" Laurel's history, and pointed out that the library was built on land donated by Stanley's family.
"The City of Laurel holds a strong tradition of naming buildings and parks after those who have contributed significantly to Laurel's position as an outstanding Maryland city," Moe wrote in the letter.
"Assuring that the Prince George's County Board of Library Trustees continues the name for Laurel's Library as the Stanley Memorial Library is most important to the City of Laurel, its over 25,000 residents, and those from outside the City of Laurel and Prince George's County who value the preservation of the significant contributions of our dedicated public servants," he wrote.
In the letter, Moe "respectfully urges" the trustees to reconsider maintaining the name.
Bolivar wrote in her letter that the trustees plan to commemorate Stanley with a photo and memorial in the library lobby.
Although Moe said he disagrees with the change, he said the disagreement is "cordial."
According to Teaze, the board has approved exceptions to the policy, one of them being the original naming of the Laurel library.
Teaze said the board made the exception in the 1960s to honor the request made on behalf of Stanley's family. The other exception, according to Teaze, is the Beltsville branch, which is located in the Mike Maloney building. Teaze said that exception is because the police department is also located in the building.
Tom Dernoga, president of the Friends of the Laurel Library, said the group supports Moe's position, and is in the process of writing a letter to the library board.
Dernoga, a former Prince George's County Council member, said he understands the library's policy, but added there should also be exceptions.
"If you start naming every library after a person, no one will know where they are," he said. "But in this particular case, it's already been known as the Stanley Memorial Library for nearly 60 years."
The current library was scheduled to close on Feb. 18 in preparation of relocating to a temporary site at 8101 Sandy Spring Road, behind the Laurel Municipal Center. But the closing date was pushed back to March 8, Teaze said, so that work can be done on the temporary site, which is now scheduled to open March 31.
The library, which was expanded in 1993, will remain at its current location next to Emancipation Community Park in Old Town Laurel. The three-acre park is expected to lose about one acre to accommodate the new library, which will be nearly triple the size of the library set to be demolished, from 12,000 square feet to 32,000 square feet.
The new library will include a large community meeting room and a public service area powered by generators to serve as a refuge for residents in case of power outages.
Officials said all library programs such as story times will continue at the temporary location, and wireless Internet will be available. Book drops will be available at both the library and the temporary location during the three-week move. Other county library branches near Laurel are located in Bowie and Hyattsville.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun