After two floods, Hancock reopens library

January 31, 1997


Staff Writer

HANCOCK - Flooded out twice last year, the Hancock War Memorial Library was battered but not beaten.

The trouble began when the meltdown from last January's blizzard flooded the library, destroying about a third of the library's collection and furniture.

After months of drying out books at the Washington County Free Library in Hagerstown, the library reopened Sept. 2. But just days later, library officials were forced to evacuate when Hurricane Fran pelted the area, flooding the library again.

The new library - located in the Town Hall on High Street - opened Friday to the pleasant tones of a librarian asking, "May I help you with something?"


Janlee Viands, branch coordinator for Washington County, said the library staff has been working for a month to transform the auditorium at the center of the Town Hall into a library - complete with new furniture, a new design and new books.

The library continued to buy new books while it was closed, she said.

Kristen Myers, 2, was one of the library's first customers. "I like getting Pooh books," she said.

Kristen said she and her mom, Sandi, often read together. Not having a library has been a bummer, the mom said.

"We've been rereading all our old books," Sandi Myers said. "We've been waiting for this to open again for a long time now. Hopefully Mother Nature will leave this place alone."

Mary Baykan, director of the Washington County Free Library, praised the librarians' and townspeople's efforts in saving the library collections and getting the library ready to reopen. "A lot of them were literally going out the back door while the water came in the front," she said.

Provided that there are "no earthquakes and no stampeding buffalo," the library will stay open, Baykan said.

"The Hancock Library has always been my favorite," said Deborah Robinette, an eight-year resident of the town. "My family helped them move out in September," she said. "It was very rough not having the library."

Many first-day customers praised the new location, which is closer to the center of town than the old library.

Tracey Self said having a library in town was especially important to her because she doesn't have a car. Now, she can walk to the library with her daughter, Briana, 2, and check out books whenever she wants. Briana enjoyed the books, but she was distracted Friday by the library's first-day offering of free cookies.

Sandra VanGosen said she missed the library - especially when her children needed to do school reports. "You had to run clear to Hagerstown to get encyclopedias and stuff," she said.

Christy Childers, a student a Hagerstown Junior College, was busy finding books for a report due Wednesday in her children's literature class. "I really couldn't find much time to get down to Hagerstown," she said. "This helps a lot."

Librarians and patrons alike remarked about the attractiveness of the library, especially the 30-foot by 10-foot painting of the C&O Canal in Hancock.

The new library's hours:

  • Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Thursday, 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Weekly programs for preschoolers resume on Wednesday. This week's program starts at 11:15 a.m.; normal Wednesday programs will begin at 11:30 a.m.

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