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Longing for a larger library

March 04, 2003|by NICOLE RITCHEY

nritchey@herald-mail.com

Efforts are under way to build a bigger and better library in Boonsboro.

Librarian Christine Hawkins and Janeen Solberg, secretary of the Boonsboro Free Library's board of directors, are spearheading the drive to build a 10,000-square-foot library on the King farm off Md. 34, Solberg said.

That land is included in the town's Shafer Memorial Park expansion project.

Board members and other residents have formed a group called Friends for a New Boonsboro Library to organize fund-raising efforts for a project that has garnered support from town and county officials, Solberg said.

The estimated cost for the new library is $1.2 million, she said.

"A larger library will allow more resources for our young people and adults," Boonsboro Mayor Skip Kauffman said. "This is a great thing for Boonsboro, and (the library) will serve a lot of areas other than Boonsboro. We are looking forward to it, and there are many, many generous people to help support this effort. We are very grateful for that."

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Boonsboro's first permanent library opened in 1904 and changed locations three times before moving to its present location at 19 N. Main St. The current building is attached to Town Hall and likely will be used by the town after a bigger library is built to serve the area's burgeoning population, Hawkins said.

"People in the community are very attached to this library, but there comes a time when you have to move on," she said.

The shelves in the current 1,700-square-foot library "are constantly weeded and crammed without organization because there is simply no room," Hawkins said.

The library lacks restrooms and study areas, and has space for only two computers and one work table, Solberg said.

"With a new library, the possibilities will be endless," Hawkins said. "We definitely need a nice program area and an area for people to study."

A larger library also will mean expanded operating hours, she said.

More than $400,000 in pledges and donations already have been raised for the cause. The Washington County Commissioners have pledged $200,000, the Nora Roberts Foundation has promised $100,000 and the Washington County Free Library will match the Boonsboro library board's $50,000 donation, Hawkins said.

Friends for a New Boonsboro Library also has raised about $11,000 from individual donations, contributions from local service organizations and such fund-raising endeavors as an ongoing book sale in the back of the library, Solberg said.

Local bookworms have supported the cause by dropping money in a donation jar at the library.

"The town has been very supportive," Solberg said.

Friends for a New Boonsboro Library now are organizing a cookbook to be sold for the library's benefit. The group is planning a book and bake sale in Shafer Memorial Park in May, and will host a book signing with local authors Antonio and Jonna Mendez in June, Hawkins said.

Ex-CIA operatives, the Mendezes have written a book called "Spy Dust."

"We are hoping to break ground in 2004, but it depends on the fund-raising," Solberg said.

The push for a new library in Boonsboro follows similar efforts in Smithsburg and Clear Spring.

The Leonard P. Snyder branch of the Washington County Free Library opened in Clear Spring in September 2001 after local volunteers raised the nearly $800,000 - including $200,000 from the county and $350,000 from the L.P. Snyder Fund - needed to build the 8,000-square-foot building.

Friends of Smithsburg Library is trying to raise the remainder of the estimated $1 million needed to replace the current 1,096-square-foot library on East Water Street with a 10,000-square-foot library in Veterans Park.

The group has secured more than $650,000 in pledges and donations and hopes to complete the fund-raising campaign by the end of the year so ground can be broken for the new library early in 2004, Library Board President Judith Ferro has said.

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