Bookmobile idea being considered for Berkeley Co.

June 24, 2005|By CANDICE BOSLEY


Have books, will travel?

Officials with the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Public Library are considering starting a bookmobile program to serve county residents who do not live near a library branch, including those in the Back Creek Valley area, Gerrardstown, W.Va., and Falling Waters, W.Va.

Margaret Demer, director of branch services, and library Director Pamela Coyle discussed the bookmobile and other library issues Thursday morning with the Berkeley County Commission.

The commissioners seemed especially concerned with when a new library branch is going to reopen in the northern end of the county.


Last summer, the library closed its Falling Waters branch ? which consisted of a trailer erected in 1973 that was supposed to be temporary ? because of its poor condition, Coyle said.

Also, fewer customers meant the cost per item circulated was $16. The cost per item circulated from the Hedgesville, W.Va., branch is $6, while the cost per item circulated from the Inwood, W.Va., branch, which is housed within Musselman High School, is less than $2.

Improving the Hedgesville library branch is the main focus of library officials, Demer told the commissioners.

That library is housed in a small building on a narrow road that does not provide adequate parking. Despite the shortcomings, circulation for the branch has doubled and this month's circulation likely will be the highest ever, Demer said.

She said she hopes an architect will be selected soon to provide plans for the new Hedgesville branch, for which the library already has bought a building.

In contrast, of the 300 people who responded to a survey two years ago dealing with the library branch in Falling Waters, half said they would not use the library and believed it should be closed.

Others, Coyle said, refused to bring their children to the branch because of its atmosphere.

Rather than focusing on the negative, however, library officials decided to implement other suggestions, including that the branch increase its hours, deliver books and update its collection with newer books.

The survey and the improvements cost around $11,000.

Demer proposed that a bookmobile be used to serve patrons in the northern end of the county until a new library branch is opened, possibly on the same land as the planned high school in Spring Mills.

County Commissioner Ron Collins said the plans for reopening a library branch in the northern end of the county should be "fast-tracked," given that a new sewer line likely will soon cause a dramatic population increase there.

Should opening a branch on the school site not pan out, the commissioners said they believe residents would help raise funds to build elsewhere.

Commissioner Howard Strauss said he would personally donate to the effort, provided a solid plan is created for reopening a branch in the county's northern end.

Operating a bookmobile would be a "stop-gap" solution that could be implemented within a year, Coyle said.

Along with serving people who live miles away from a library, the bookmobile also could stop at day-care centers, senior centers, churches, grocery stores, schools and labor camps for Spanish-speaking workers, she said after the meeting.

"We're not forgetting northern Berkeley, but our commitment is to all of Berkeley County," Demer said.

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