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In the middle of the county library board's budget hearing, the County Commissioners were presented with this view of the world through an illiterate person's eyes.

"Think about what life would be like if you got a letter and couldn't read it," said Martha M. Makosky, director of the Carroll CountyPublic Library.

The letter, full of randomly typed characters, was part of the board's plea for commissioner support for continued library growth. A three-minute video describing the county's literacy program completed the request.

"Those are the saddest commercials you ever see on TV," said Commissioner Vice President Elmer C. Lippy Jr., after being assured the video's participants weren't actors, but people relating their own experiences.

The video also said 11,000 people in Carroll County cannot read.

"Most of those people are heads of families, so there are more than just those 11,000 countians being affected," said trustee Mary Lou Dewey.

Makosky said library employees attempt to attack illiteracy among the young.

"We were pushing literacy before the term was invented," she said. "But we need to catch the problem on the front end."

Makosky described CCPL's service as a form of day-care program, in which books are carried to children in centers across the county.

"We really believe in getting books in the hands of these children as soon as possible," she said.

Board members told the commissioners additional financial support would be appreciated.

"We are realists who live in the real world and realize these financial problems are something we have to go through," said Nancy Zeleski, CCPL board of trustees president. "But it's hard for us to give up on the future of our children, the future of people in the county.

"By going through these fiscal problems, we are incurring a debt we will have to pay back at some point in timeby throwing in a larger chunk of money," she said.

At budget office request, the library board has cut 2 percent from next year's capital budget.

"This is the first time in my career that I haven't asked for more money," Makosky said. "This is the library board's effort to show we are trying to cooperate."

But the trustees have submitted four addendum budgets asking for money to run the new Mount Airybranch, create a mini-branch in Union Bridge, add five employees andcompensate for inflation in the materials budget.

"During bad economic times, the demand is greater on public libraries," said Dewey. "Not just by schoolchildren, but people of all ages."

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