Two-year-old Linlee Davis sat on the ground behind the Carroll County Public Library’s Westminster branch on Monday afternoon with colorful striped sunglasses, a pink shirt that said “All Smiles,” and plaid shorts.
Her hands were streaked with blue paint after the library’s fifth annual paint extravaganza in the park on Main Street, and sat next to a bag full of board books with her mother, Michelle Davis.
“We like to regularly attend the library’s activities,” said Davis. “We are on their Facebook page.”
Coincidentally, their 2 p.m. event was over by the time cupcakes came out at 3 p.m. in celebration of CCPL’s 60th birthday.
“We just ate a cupcake as well,” she laughed, “because, why not?”
Within moments, Linlee reached her arms out to the iron banister in front of her shouting, “Daddy!”
Their ride had just arrived.
Inside the library, Branch Manager Christina Kuntz stood in the center of the room offering passers-by birthday cupcakes.
The library will be celebrating its anniversary in other ways this week as well.
Tuesday is for Trivia, Kuntz said, and on Wednesday staff is going to dress as their favorite Dewey Decimal area. Then Thursday will be the give-away day — with a wheel brought out periodically throughout the day for prizes — and either Friday or Saturday staff will dress up as their favorite decade the public library system has existed, from the ’50s until now.
“I would say my favorite thing [about the library system] is our really great customers,” Kuntz said. “We have wonderful customers and have a lot of fun working with people.”
In the kids play area toward the back of the library, Jaxon, 6, and Maxwell, 4, sat at a computer with cupcakes their mother, Angel Capshaw, brought over for them.
“We go to all the events at the library,” Capshaw said, her two boys enraptured by the game ABC Mouse.
“We do story time and the Lego build,” she said, at both the Westminster and Finksburg branches of the library system.
Jaxon said he and his brother have been to the library a lot this summer.
“I like to ready book, fiction books,” he said, “and I like to read about animals.”
His favorite animal is the snake, said Jaxon.
But the library isn’t just for kids.
Alva Moses came to the Westminster library on Monday afternoon because he didn’t have anywhere else to go. He said he grew up in Carroll County but left when his mother died.
He just left a recovery program in Frederick County and a friend dropped him back off in Carroll.
“I come here to use the computers, use the resources they have,” Moses said with a cupcake wrapper in his hand, wearing a basketball jersey and backpack. “The people here are really in tune to what’s around, I’ve found out.
“They helped me find a place to eat,” he said. “I’m just trying to get everything together, being on the street is hard. Here I can get on Facebook, get a hold of somebody, that’s kind of what I’ve been doing.”
CCPL Executive Director Lynn Wheeler said the purpose of the library system is to help people — like Moses — find resources and learn on their own, and has been from the beginning.
“When Andrew Carnegie first selected developing public libraries as his philanthropic focus,” she said this week, “he said that the library would provide information that would help people to learn on their own accord, learn at their own pace, learn at their own desire, and learn and prosper. They could then learn things that could help them to live a better life — and that was his dream.
“Now over the years since then, those tools have changed a lot,” said Wheeler. “So when libraries first opened, they had just books and then over the last 50 years the formats have broadened tremendously — from books to music to audio to streaming, all kinds of formats that we now buy materials in.”
Wheeler said piggy-backing off Carnegie’s vision of DIY learning, Bill Gates foreshadowed much of the current library systems’ technological advances in the mid-1990s.
“He identified libraries as the place where people could come to learn and access technology,” she said, “because that was really when the PC was coming out and people needed to learn how to use computers and access the internet. He saw libraries as, once again, the place where by sharing these resources people could come and learn — do-it-yourself learning, if you will — self-directed learning.
“They could learn new skills and use those skills to improve their lives,” said Wheeler, “and I feel strongly that we have maintained that core mission over the years.”