A new branch library three miles away and continuing pressure to cut costs will probably squeeze the tiny Highland branch of the Harford County Public Library out of existence by next spring.
Philip A. Place, director of the library, said Highland, the smallest of the 10 county branches, probably would close between February and June.
The closing would not be unexpected, Mr. Place said.
"We said three years ago that we would have to re-evaluate our needs," he said, noting that trustees and county officials discussed the possible closing in overall plans for building a full-service branch in Whiteford to serve the northern reaches of the county.
The new 7,300-square-foot Whiteford library opened in June.
A public hearing on the closing will be held before the next library trustees meeting, on Jan. 21 at the Whiteford branch.
The Highland branch is in the Highland Community Center, a former school that also houses a post office and senior citizens center.
It is open only 13 hours during the week and circulates less than 1,000 articles a month.
Closing Highland could save $12,000 to $13,000 a year in operating costs, Mr. Place says, and help offset a deficit in operating the new branch.
He said that while the county budgeted $100,000 a year to operate Whiteford, the actual cost is closer to $150,000 annually.
In addition, he says, Highland's two staff members could be transferred to Whiteford, allowing the new library to stay open nine additional hours a week.
"There's more value in those additional hours at a full-service branch than in what Highland does," he says.
"Highland serves a different purpose for a different sort of people. They look at it as sort of a village center there. That's nice, but we have to do the most we can for the most people with the resources we have."
He said most of Highland's collection also would be transferred to Whiteford.