Bulldozers can start moving earth next month for the Carroll Community College library because the state Board of Public Works approved $4.9 million for the project yesterday.
The County Commissioners have pledged $2.9 million for Carroll's share of the project, called a Learning Resource Center because it will incorporate several services.
One feature will be a distance-learning laboratory that allows students to take courses taught at other participating schools through live interactive video. Carroll already has such a lab, but it is crowded. College officials had been expecting the approval but were still gratified when it became final, said Joseph F. Shields, college president.
He said the library could open by January 1997.
"The bureaucracy slowed us down a bit, but everything came through," Dr. Shields said.
The project dates back to 1990, the year the college opened its new campus on Washington Road, when the General Assembly approved the concept of adding a library and other buildings. At the time, the college was a branch campus of Catonsville Community College.
In 1992, Carroll officials stepped up plans to become an independent college, which came about in the next year. Dr. Shields said at that time the library was a priority.
"This is one of the first decisions I made when I came here four years ago," Dr. Shields said of moving the library ahead as the college's next building.
"Our library has 12,000 to 15,000 volumes in it," Dr. Shields said in 1992 while making his case. "A school our size should have a minimum of 40,000. I tell people the library is the heart of an institution of higher education, and right now, we're being kept alive through an artificial heart."
Officials have been expecting the money for the library for the past few years, and at one point had hoped for a September 1995 opening.
The 58,000-square-foot library will be a wing built to the left of the main building. The contractor, Lake Falls Construction Inc. of Baltimore, built all three buildings on the campus. The company presented the lowest of seven bids, at $7 million, said a spokesman for the state Department of General Services.