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Temporary Havre de Grace library branch a hit with patrons

Folks fill the new temporary home of the Havre de Grace branch of the Harford County Public Library at 203 Market Street Tuesday afternoon.
Folks fill the new temporary home of the Havre de Grace branch of the Harford County Public Library at 203 Market Street Tuesday afternoon. (MATT BUTTON | AEGIS STAFF, Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Nearly 1,000 people visited the temporary location of the Havre de Grace branch of the Harford County Public Library during its opening Tuesday.

The space is about half the size of the branch it's replacing. That branch has been closed to make way for a new library building on the same site.

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Irmgarde Brown, the branch manager, said Wednesday 963 people attended the opening of the temporary branch in the Tidewater Marina Building at 203 Market St., a much larger crowd than the 500 to 600 people who typically visit the former branch at the intersection of North Union and Pennington avenues each day.

"We've been complimented on having done a good job with the small space that we have and making it look welcoming, so, so far so good," Brown said.

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About 5,000 square feet in the Tidewater building is being used for the library branch, and about 3,200 square feet of that space is available for public use; the rest is set aside for staff use, storage and preparing to move into the new branch, Brown explained.

The one-story former branch, which closed in late September after serving the community for 27 years, took up about 8,000 square feet.

The new two-story $7.72 million branch is scheduled to open in early 2016 on the same spot as the one that's about to be demolished. The new building will be about 19,000 square feet.

Mary Hastler, director of the Harford County Public Library, said the demolition is scheduled to begin this week and last through mid-November; a groundbreaking ceremony for the new branch is scheduled for Nov. 12.

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Havre de Grace Library patrons were encouraged to visit the Aberdeen branch for materials during the nearly three weeks the Havre de Grace B ranch was closed.

"I think people are just really happy that it's back in business, and the doors are open, and they love their library," Hastler said.

Brown said branch staffers are working to use the limited space in the Tidewater building as efficiently as possible.

A separate area is available for children's activities, although adult and teenage patrons must share space and the 10 computers that were brought from the Union Avenue branch, which had a popular teen room.

Brown said tables and chairs have been set up in the space near the Market Street entrance so patrons have space to socialize or study.

"What we're trying to do is really use the space wisely until we move into the new library," Hastler said.

The space has a concrete floor, which Brown described as beautiful, but she noted the lack of a carpet amplifies noise.

She said the staff plans to hold as many programs as possible, keeping in the mind the noise issue.

"We love having people in here," she said.

About 45 percent of the Havre de Grace branch's collection was moved from Union Avenue to Market Street, and the remainder has been distributed among other Harford County branches.

Brown said older materials will be moved out as newer materials come in, but staffers can order items for patrons if they are not available at the branch.

"We're still really a full-service branch," she said.

The branch is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday and Wednesday, from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday. It is closed Sundays.

Call 410-939-6700 for more information, or visit the "Havre de Grace Library" page on Facebook.

Havre de Grace Mayor Wayne Dougherty attended the opening of the Market Street branch Tuesday with his wife, daughter and 2-and-a-half-year-old granddaughter.

"The kids were having a great time in the play area," Dougherty said.

He also took in the view of the Tidewater Marina and the Susquehanna River from the building.

The mayor said his daughter and granddaughter are frequent users of the Havre de Grace branch. He described the staff as "second to none," and that they treat members of the community "like family."

"It's a great success in our community, and I am glad that it's used so much by the community," he said.

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