Friday marks the final chapter in the 59-year history of the Kuethe Reading Center.

But it's also a fresh start for the two-room library on Crain Highway.

The board of library trustees, anticipating that the county budget wouldn't include money for Kuethe, decided in March to close the reading center.

Librarians said that usually only a dozen faithful readers showed up, even on rainy days that seemed best-suited to curling up with a book.

For the number of people it served, Kuethe costmore to operate than any other library branch in the county.

Kuethe will reopen in a couple of months as a historical research libraryrun by the Ann Arrundell Historical Society.

The society's current library is squeezed into the Benson-Hammond House in Linthicum. When members learned that a covenant prohibited the sale of the Kuethe library, they asked to lease the building.

"We felt using it for historical research was most in keeping with the original concept of the library," said Bill Kuethe, whose great-uncle, William F. Kuethe, built the reading room.

Less than 5,000 books and periodicals are stored at Kuethe, a tiny fraction of the 4.3 million items circulated by the county's public libraries, said Diane M. Rey, spokeswoman for the library system.

Many of the books will be moved to the North County Regional Library, about one mile away. The rest will be auctioned off or given to charities.

Kuethe will close its doors for the last time Friday. Once its books are gone, the historical society will begin filling the rooms with its research materials.

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