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Library director hoping for state funding boost

February 04, 1998

By GUY FLETCHER

Staff Writer

ANNAPOLIS - Libraries trying to cope with the demands of the information age often do so even as budgets tighten, said Washington County Free Library Director Mary C. Baykan.

"The libraries are in a very challenging position at this time," she said.

Baykan testified this week before the House Ways and Means Committee on behalf of legislation that would increase the state's appropriation to the library in Washington County and elsewhere.

State funding makes up $653,000 of the county library's current $1.8 million budget. Under a formula based on population and per-capita wealth, that number would have decreased to $635,000 next year.

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"That, for a small library system ... is devastating," Baykan said.

But in the 1999 budget he submitted to the General Assembly, Gov. Parris Glendening has proposed an increase, which tentatively sets the county library appropriation at $738,000.

That will help with what Baykan calls an ever-increasing strain on services. In addition to being repositories of books, libraries are used for Internet access, economic development information and centers for families.

"For Washington County, the library is one of the most important infrastructures in the community," she said.

But the needs of the community are not being fully met, she said. For example, she would like additional funds to be made available to enable allow the library's main Hagerstown branch to be open on Sundays. She also would like the library to have more computer equipment and to have improvements made to the building.

"We could do more if we had the resources," Baykan said.

And there is always a need for more books, she said.

"Books are not going away. Books are getting more expensive," Baykan said.

Help from the state is only part of the answer, she said. The bulk of the library's budget - more than $1 million - comes from the Washington County Commissioners. Baykan said the library is asking for a $65,000 increase from the county for the next budget year.

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