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Finksburg residents lobby board for library branch; Trustees weigh request, but say money is limited


Tired of having to drive a half-hour from her home in Finksburg to get to a library, Laura O'Callaghan is pressing Carroll County to add a branch in her area. O'Callaghan spoke in favor of the idea last night at a meeting of the county's public library board of trustees.

O'Callaghan is a member of the Finksburg Planning Area Council, a citizens group that lobbies county commissioners.

Carroll is conducting a two-year study of the area, near the intersection of Routes 140 and 91, that is looking at issues such as growth management, natural resources and economic development.

The library has five locations: Westminster, Eldersburg, North Carroll, Taneytown and Mount Airy.

"Finksburg is located nine miles from the Westminster branch and 9 1/2 miles from the Eldersburg branch," O'Callaghan said before the meeting. "It's a good hike to get to the closest library."

The Finksburg area has nearly 8,000 residents, she noted, more than either Mount Airy or Taneytown, which, with populations of about 5,000, have libraries.

Board members seemed to agree that Finksburg would be well served by a branch, but finding the funds to build one will not be easy.

"It's hard to imagine a large amount of money suddenly being available," said board President Jill Kartalia.

Library Director Linda Mielke said after O'Callaghan's presentation that the library's budget has not increased in three years and that additional branches do not seem likely.

"The commissioners have their five-year budget plan, but it can be altered like any other plan," she said. "The capital budget is tight, but when needs arise, I think the folks in Finksburg can make a good case."

If the library were to open a small satellite branch, said Gail Griffith, deputy director of the library, it would cost about $125,000 per year to operate -- not including the building itself or the books and computers needed to stock it.

Mielke said that in 1994 the board's long-range plan called for a library in Finksburg, an idea that was killed for lack of resources.

"The county was in a slump, and it's trying to dig itself out," she said.

O'Callaghan, who was joined at the meeting in library headquarters on Airport Drive by residents Maureen Ackerman, Bob Eney and former Hampstead Town Manager Neil Ridgely, said she has not yet contacted the commissioners with her request, preferring to present her ideas to library officials first.

"We think Finksburg is an area that has very few services," said O'Callaghan, noting that residents would prefer a full-service branch but would be happy with a satellite location. "This is a modest request that we think is a reasonable one."

O'Callaghan, whose husband, Dave, is president of the Finksburg Planning Area Council, has lived in the area for 10 years. They have 3-year-old twins -- Catherine and Elizabeth. She said the family would use a library more frequently if one were nearby.

Finksburg has "no sewer, no water, no street lights," she said. "I don't say we want those things, but I am saying we pay a lot in revenue and all we get are roads and schools."

Pub Date: 2/25/99

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