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Library expansion is planned

July 30, 1997

As the Washington County Free Library approaches its centennial anniversary, the library building is in need of renovation and expansion, the library's director said Tuesday.

"We're too small," said Mary Baykan of the county library's main building at 100 S. Potomac St.

In addition to basic refurbishing of furniture, paint and flooring, the building needs more public space, Baykan said.

A consultant will be hired to determine the best way to expand. Options include adding space off the front or adding a second-floor overhang in the back above the lower parking lot, Baykan said. No cost estimates were available.

"We are probably the major anchor to the downtown area. It would be extremely problematic for downtown to lose the library's presence," Baykan said.

The library moved to South Potomac Street in 1965 after outgrowing the county's original library space at 21 Summit Ave.

The current building's most recent addition was construction in 1979 of the mezzanine area, which provided additional seating and office space for the state-funded regional library located in the same building, Baykan said.

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Funding for physical improvements to the library are not likely to come from the state or federal governments, so library officials will seek individual and corporate donations and pursue public funding, Baykan said.

Renovation also is needed at branch offices, she said.

The branches in Smithsburg and Boonsboro probably need to be expanded because of the growth in those areas, Baykan said. Clear Spring still doesn't have a branch and the Hancock War Memorial Library branch could be moved to higher ground where it would be safe from floodwaters that have damaged books in past years. Hancock's library now operates out of Town Hall on High Street.

Baykan is interested in opening storefront branches north of Hagerstown in the Fountain Head area and south of the city in order to meet the needs of the growing suburban population.

The library also needs a new bookmobile, which could cost about $120,000, Baykan said. The two bookmobiles in use are each more than 10 years old.

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