Laurel Library finds new home for collection as it prepares to move

As the Laurel Library prepares to shut down to make way for a new building, librarians must grapple with a host of practical questions. Chief among them: what to do with the current collection of books, CDs, DVDs and other materials?

Much of it will be moved to the new library, of course. Selected items will be available at a temporary location, which will serve the community during construction. Library officials have not yet announced the planned location for the temporary library, or when it will open. As for when the current library will close, there is no definite date yet, although it will likely be in December, according to Blane Halliday, who is the area manager for Laurel, Bowie, Beltsville and Greenbelt libraries.

But other materials won't make the move. The library's microfilm reader and collection of more than a century of issues of the Laurel Leader on microfilm will find a new home with the Laurel Historical Society. The group will also adopt bound copies of the newspaper dating from April 1946 through January 1981.

"The newly scanned Laurel Leaders greatly improve the access the public has to this invaluable resource for local history," Laurel Historical Society Executive Director Lindsey Baker said in a statement. "We are very excited to use them both for our own research in house and for others looking into local events."

Other books are destined for a new life on the bookshelves of Laurel residents, who can buy them at the library's book sale.

Run by the Friends of the Laurel Library, the book sale has for a long time been a way for the library to pass along books that no longer have a place in its collection. But lately, the size of the sale has ballooned.

"Right now we are wading through books that they are pulling off the shelves," said Mary Jean McClellan, who with her sister, Ruth Hren, has volunteered at the Laurel Library for more than a decade.

As librarians sift through the collections, the Friends get new additions to the book sale. Last week, they were getting lots of interior design books and before that, it was books about how to care for pets.

"People say what are we going to weed next? Well, we don't know," McClellan said. "It changes literally daily."

Part of the fun is the unknown, she said. "Ruth and I have always felt like we were treasure hunting."

One hundred percent of the proceeds from the book sale go to the Friends. They use the funds they collect to schedule community programs at the library, and they're currently saving up to help buy equipment for the new library that isn't in its budget, McClellan said.

She said the book sale was a win-win for the community. Books are priced low -- $1 for teen and adult hardcovers and paperbacks for 25 cents.

And even when the proceeds seem small – McClellan said she sold about $120 worth of books on a recent day – "that's a lot of material that walked out the door."

And that's a good thing: "At some point, if people don't buy books fast enough, we're going to have a flood of books," she said.

The book sale is currently in the library's meeting room, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons.

But beginning the week of Oct. 21, the sale will get its own, more permanent room, and new hours: Mondays and Wednesdays from 1 to 7 p.m. and Saturdays, tentatively from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

McClellan said the sale was a good way to spend a rainy autumn day.

"It's really a sort of fun operation, because people love to come in and browse," she said. "There's some really, really great buys in there."

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