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Public library poised to grow


Carroll County's smallest library will be expanding soon with the planned construction of an addition to the Taneytown branch.

The county's capital improvement budget for fiscal year 2005 includes $685,977 for an addition to the library, which opened in 1989.

"I'm very pleased," said Taneytown Mayor W. Robert Flickinger, who had not been aware of the expansion plan. "I was out there last Saturday and I couldn't believe how busy it was."

The plan calls for a 5,000- square-foot addition, said Ann T. Wisner, a spokeswoman for the Carroll County Public Library. "Taneytown is the smallest branch, physically, and has become more crowded over the years."

The Taneytown library on Grand Drive has 9,890 square feet now, Wisner said.

"There is not a lot of land out there," said Ralph E. Green, director of general services for Carroll County, "but the addition will be a substantial one in relationship to the site."

The addition will be third in line behind two other building projects: an addition to the Eldersburg branch, which is nearly complete, and a new branch and library headquarters in Finksburg, said Linda J. Mielke, director of the Carroll County Public Library.

A 2,500- square-foot addition and renovations to the branch on West Hemlock Drive in Eldersburg are expected to be completed in June, Green said.

"The interior is going to be completely redone, with an addition in the children's area," Mielke said of the Eldersburg project, which was planned back in 1996.

Work on the $1 million project began last summer and includes relocating the main entrance and improving parking, she said.

The Eldersburg and Westminster branches are the county's busiest, Mielke said. But library officials hope the addition in Eldersburg and a new Finksburg library will ease the strain on those two branches. Finksburg's library is expected to serve patrons who now travel to the main branch in Westminster.

In Finksburg the county has an option to buy a 10-acre site near Sandymount Park on Old Westminster Pike for $3.5 million, according to Green and Mielke. This would include a new library headquarters and the new Finksburg branch that would be the county's sixth library.

But there is a problem, Green said. "We thought it had a well on it and we were going to convert it from a test well to a productive well. But the test well is on an adjacent property."

Before the county buys the property, Green said, it must meet conditions such as an adequate water supply and suitable conditions for a septic system, as well as other environmental requirements.

"We want to make sure all those things are in place," Green said. "You can't build a building without water."

Mielke agreed, but said she hopes this won't delay the project too much.

"The libraries need expansion, especially in Taneytown, and also a new library in Finksburg," Mielke said. "When I came here in 1993, there was already a plan for a Sandymount library and headquarters," she noted.

While Eldersburg's branch is nearing completion, no plans have been drawn for the buildings in Finksburg or Taneytown.

Mielke noted: "The library system is the busiest in Maryland. We circulate more books per capita than any other library system in Maryland, and we do it at the lowest cost.

"Since our population keeps growing," she said, "we need to make our libraries bigger."

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