Eldersburg library design is unveiled

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Carroll County officials unveiled yesterday the design for a $1.2 million expansion of the Eldersburg library, one of the busiest branches in the county.

The county is to open contractor bids Friday on the project, which calls for a covered entrance, parking lot improvements, doubling the size of the community room and an enlarged children's department.

The design would add 2,500 square feet to the 20-year-old building. Plans also call for a drive-through window, additional computer terminals and a reworked circulation desk.

The library will remain open during construction, which will begin at the end of the summer and take about a year.

"We are going to make a royal mess of this place," Linda Mielke, county library director, said yesterday at the library branch, addressing a crowd that included the county commissioners, library board members and library patrons.

"We will be rearranging the space, punching out walls and reconfiguring the entrance," she said.

Mielke will not add staff, shelves or equipment to the building which, when renovated, will be nearly 23,000 square feet.

"This is a total redo that will mean a lot better use of space and more open areas," said Bill Meyers, project architect.

Carroll consistently claims the highest per capita library circulation in the state - more than 2 million items annually, said Ann Wisner, external relations manager. Eldersburg, with a monthly circulation of about 82,000 books, videos, tapes and other items, rivals the Westminster branch for the most use.

The Eldersburg branch, built in the early 1980s, was expanded about nine years ago when the county Health Department vacated adjoining space. State police will stay in an office behind the library building.

The latest improvements will make the building viable for the next two decades in Carroll's most populous and fastest-growing area, county officials said.

"Eldersburg was the first area to get a library outside of Westminster and the county continues to serve this area," said former Commissioner Donald I. Dell.

The expansion shows "the political will to serve this part of the county," said Commissioner Dean L. Minnich.

Jack Bowden, library board member, noted another library project. "Finksburg will be next," he said.

The county plans a 10,000- square-foot branch in Finksburg and an adjoining headquarters. The $3.5 million complex is expected to open in 2005, but the county has not selected a site.

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