Effort to open library in the works in Clear Spring

January 30, 1999|By MARLO BARNHART

CLEAR SPRING, Md. - Frustrated after 10 years of efforts to build a town library, a group of Clear Spring area residents is now directing its energy in another direction.

A temporary solution - setting up "shop" in the old Odd Fellows Hall on Cumberland Street - is the goal and community support is being sought.

"A whole generation of children has grown up without a town library," said Paula Smith, one of the organizers of a petition drive for moral and financial support for the library.

Those petitions have been distributed to businesses, fire halls, restaurants, civic organizations, banks, post offices and gas stations throughout the Clear Spring area.


Smith and Isabelle Stottlemyer, a teacher at Clear Spring Elementary School, are hoping people with young children will join with other citizens who have the common goal of providing this valuable resource to children.

A letter went home with all elementary students in mid January, Smith said.

All three Clear Spring schools have libraries but once the schools close in the afternoon, so do the libraries. The next closest library is in Hagerstown - 12 miles away.

"Clear Spring High School opened its library briefly at night some years ago but that didn't last because there were no programs," Smith said.

Recently, Patty and Don Blair agreed to let the Odd Fellows building be used for a temporary library for $1 rent a year with a 10-year lease.

A lot of cleaning and some repairs will be necessary before the 3,000 square foot building will be ready to be a library.

And then there is the matter of getting books, and shelves and tables and chairs.

Smith said The Washington County Free Library will be able to help some with the efforts in Clear Spring. But other resources have dried up in recent years.

"The state of Maryland no longer funds books for a new library," Smith said. Therefore a big community push will be necessary to get the needed supplies and materials.

Stottlemyer said she wants to see a town library so there can be an afternoon story hour for young children and a place for others to read or study in the evenings.

Margaret Cornett, a retired school teacher, said she and her husband, Fred, are very much in support of this effort.

"I had worked on the previous committee but we haven't met for a long time," Cornett said. That committee was trying to secure land to build senior housing, a senior center and a town library all in one complex.

An avid historian, Cornett also pointed out that Clear Spring did once have a town library, located on the south side of Cumberland Street across from Clear Spring Hardware.

In a 1944 edition of the Globe-Trotter, a Clear Spring newspaper, a story noted that the library was established in 1924.

Twenty years later, the library boasted 4,000 books but had to close its doors because of a lack of librarians, the story said.

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