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Planner rejects small branch libraries


Carroll should spend its money on large branch libraries such as Eldersburg instead of building small branches in outlying areas such as New Windsor/Union Bridge, the county Planning Commission president says.

"I think it's counterproductive to have little branch libraries scattered around the towns," said Louis J. Pecoraro of Taylorsville.

The Planning Commission will recommend Tuesday that county commissioners spend $55,000 in fiscal 1995 for design and engineering work for an expansion of the 15,000-square-foot Eldersburg branch.

Fiscal 1995 begins July 1.

The library addition, which would enlarge the adult section, would be started in fiscal 1996. The project would include a 5,000-square-foot addition, add 100 parking spaces and cost $813,000.

The Carroll County Public Library Board of Trustees also wants to renovate 5,000 square feet at the branch -- now used by the county Health Department -- to enlarge the children's section. The cost would be $626,000.

The Planning Commission did not recommend when that work should be done, Library Director Linda Mielke said.

The Eldersburg branch is the county's second-busiest branch, behind Westminster.

The county should be concentrating on its larger branches, such as Eldersburg, Westminster, Mount Airy and the Manchester/Hampstead area, Mr. Pecoraro said.

The county should use all available space at existing branches before building new ones, Planning Director Edmund R. Cueman said.

The library board had proposed buying modular libraries for branches in New Windsor/Union Bridge, Silver Run and Sandymount in the coming six years.

The board wanted to buy land for a modular in the New Windsor/Union Bridge area next year and erect a building the following year. The total cost would be $1.7 million.

The modular would be 4,200 square feet and could display up to 30,000 books.

Smaller branches would not be cost effective, Mr. Pecoraro said. Technology is changing rapidly, which means more people will be accessing services from home computers. Services could be easily offered from central locations, he said.

A New Windsor/Union Bridge branch probably will be needed in the future, but it should be a brick-and-mortar structure, not a portable, Mr. Pecoraro said.

Mr. Cueman said the Planning Commission wants the library board to study whether a branch could be located at the New Windsor Middle School.

The county is building a new middle school, and New Windsor Mayor Jack A. Gullo Jr. has proposed using the school as a community center to house town offices, a branch library, a post office and shops.

Officials must study the cost of renovating the building, which will be vacant in September 1995, Mr. Cueman said.

Ms. Mielke said the library board would have to revise its long-range capital budget plan.

She said she believes some outlying areas of Carroll need more service.

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