An architect has been selected for the renovation of the Calvert Library Southern Branch. Patricia Hofmann, Calvert Library Director said of the awardee, “GBA (Gant Brunnett Architects), based in Baltimore, has extensive experience in the design of public libraries, including renovation projects.” There were twelve other bids reviewed and evaluated by a panel. GBA also designed the Agricultural Exhibit Building at Jefferson Patterson Park.
The current location is 3,250 square feet and faces several challenges. It has a very small children’s area, is quite crowded and rather noisy because of so many customers in such a small area. The new location will be 9,200 square feet and should provide for more community gathering space, an engaging, interactive children’s area, a larger teen area and a quiet area for reading, studying and test-taking. Southern Branch currently averages about 400 customers a day and had a circulation of over 211,000 items last fiscal year. One of the main customer concerns about the current location is that there are not enough computers. There are fifteen computers with internet access for the public and last year there were almost 39,000 uses. A new library will attract even more customers who will benefit from an enhanced learning environment.
Southern Branch in Solomons will be an interim location and will probably open sometime in 2013. The design process is expected to take about 6 months and the renovation about 8 months. As the branch moves out of the Southern Community Center, more space will be available for Office on Aging and Parks and Recreation services. The County plans to build a new library in Lusby when the economy improves.
When asked for a response to the opinion that libraries will be obsolete in 10 years due to books going away, Board of Library Trustee President Kip Hine had this to say, “Libraries are much more than a place to check out books that educate or entertain customers. They are a resource for parents of young children to prepare their children for school through storytimes, activities, music, computers, movies, and of course books. They are a resource for people with limited access to the internet or computers. They are a job center for those who need support in their job search. They are a meeting space for small business owners who do not have an office in which to greet clients. They are a learning space for tutors to meet with struggling students. They are a quiet classroom for adult distance learning students to take their classes and even have exams proctored. They are an intelligently-staffed lab for those who need to learn new computer skills. They are a source of lifelong learning and opportunity for engagement for retirees seeking a new purpose, direction, connections and inspiration in life. They are a place for neighborhood associations to meet to discuss community-building and community safety. They are a safe place for teens to gather, be constructively occupied and have fun.”
According to Hofmann, “After home and work, libraries are ‘the third place.’ This expansion will enable library staff to more adequately fulfill these roles. The renovation will be functional and user friendly, attractive and inspiring. The library will be a community learning center with lots of books, places to meet and study, computers and wifi. It will be a destination for citizens to gather and learn.”