Oakland Mills seeks to convert store to book center


Members of the Oakland Mills Village board are looking to convert a former craft shop into a community book center for literacy tutoring, discussion groups and story hours by this fall.

Erin Peacock, village manager, said the idea for the book center came after residents and village board members discussed what to do with the empty space in the Other Barn at Oakland Mills Village, 5851 Robert Oliver Place.

The village board sent a letter yesterday to Marvin Thomas, director of county libraries, to formally propose the idea, she said.

"We figured we needed to serve the community with this space and to involve people," she said.

The Village Craft Shop, which closed on April 30, was a consignment store where residents displayed and sold their pottery, wall hangings, handmade puppets and other items.

Ms. Peacock said the 18-year-old craft shop was an idea that outlived its time.

Among the services the proposed book center would provide are:

* A satellite for the Howard County Library's Project Literacy.

* "Intergenerational story time," where adults read stories aloud to young people.

* Book discussion groups.

* A gallery for artwork by village students.

Ms. Peacock said she hopes the project's centerpiece will be a village-wide version of Project Literacy, a free program for residents and employees in Howard County who are at least 16 years old and need tutoring in reading and writing skills, and assistance with speaking and reading English. The program has worked with about 150 clients a year since it started in 1987, said Janet Carsetti, program spokeswoman.

In its letter to Mr. Thomas, the village board requested his help in developing its own literacy project to be housed in the book center.

"If Project Literacy signs on, then other pieces will fall together," Ms. Peacock said.

She said, however, that the partnership with the Howard County Library is in the exploratory stages and no formal arrangements have been established.

If the library balks at participating, the village board plans to go ahead with its own literacy project at the center, said Janet Ruck Pastor, village board member who originated the book center idea.

And if the library director lends his help, the village board will recruit volunteers to staff the center, begin renovating and designing the space with a fresh coat of paint and furniture, and collect book donations.

"We want to make the center something the whole community will use," she said. "We want to bring everybody together by using books as a focus."

Mrs. Pastor said she envisions the book center as a community effort.

"It will offer a whole range of opportunities for people to enjoy reading," she said.

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