Aberdeen residents consider library's future

Aberdeen residents and community leaders have plenty of ideas for what the city's future library might look like, and they offered them up during a public forum Monday on the branch's possible redesign.

"We don't just build buildings because we think they're cool and wonderful," Harford County Public Library Director Mary Hastler said. "Each area of the county is a little bit different, so we like to have each of our branches have that reflection."


Aberdeen's branch is the third or fourth most-used in the system, Hastler said. She noted it also has large numbers of walk-in customers.

Almost everything was up for consideration during the brainstorming session, including the library's location.

Gary Getz, of the engineering and architectural firm Morris & Ritchie Associates, who led the session along with Nick Fuhr, wondered if the library should be moved to another location, possibly one with more parking.

The audience of about 20 people answered decidedly "no."

Ruth Ann Young, a city councilwoman, said parking is often a problem, and Mary Ellen Dunne, head of the Friends of the Aberdeen Library, wondered if people could park in the fire department lot across the street.

Mark Schlottman, chairman of the city planning commission, suggested putting signs on the lot by the Moose Lodge, which is set to move. He also suggested a digital sign for the library marquee that could be updated more often.

Hastler said the library system is putting digital signs in all its branches, as much as possible. She noted Bel Air's laws forbid a flashing digital sign at that library's downtown location.

Other audience suggestions included a cafe, a drive-through window, more storage, multiple meeting rooms, more maps and globes, items to foster the STEM program, a more energy-efficient building and a better reflection of Aberdeen's unique assets.

Schlottman said Aberdeen is the home of Aberdeen Proving Ground, the former home a once flourishing vegetable canning industry and Ripken Stadium. He suggested that the new branch could have murals or artifacts reflecting the Aberdeen community and its history.

Getz noted a contemporary library is intended to serve much more as "the heart of the community," fostering social interaction and meeting different community needs.

Hastler said people clearly like being able to walk into the library but added that with the current space, "The problem is, we are on top of each other."

She said it would be nice to have dedicated space for a book discussion group or other community programs.

Dunne agreed that space is a problem, with her library support group needing to rent a shed to keep books during the annual book sale.

"Everything is bulging around here," she said.


Morris & Ritchie is doing the feasibility study for an expansion or renovation of the Aberdeen Library. The company also helped design the Abingdon Library.