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Smithsburg breaks ground for new library

August 24, 2005|by TIFFANY ARNOLD

SMITHSBURG

tiffanya@herald-mail.com

The size of the Smithsburg Public Library is about that of a small two-bedroom apartment.

The library, with more than 2,000 cardholders, has only one computer available for public use and has a bathroom that is little more than a toilet in a storage closet.

Thousands of books sit on cramped shelves.

The Washington County Free Library broke ground Tuesday on the new Smithsburg Library at Veterans Park, and citizens who long have complained about the small, outdated facility will have a library that suits their needs, said Mary Baykan, director of the Washington County Free Library.

The bigger, better library will have a children's department, young adult section and community meeting room. There also will be a leisure reading area and a computer lab, Baykan said.

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For Rachel Babylon, a 10-year-old fifth grader at Smithsburg Elementary School, the new library means not having to wait days for the books she wants. Rachel said she goes to the library at least three times a week, taking out six to seven books at a time. This summer, she donated her lemonade stand profits - a total of $60 - to the library building fund.

"I wanted to raise money for the library because I like reading a lot," she said.

Library officials hope to open the 8,742-square-foot building by May 2006. The building will cost about $1.6 million, said Gary Roher, public works director for Washington County.

Talk of building a new Smithsburg library began in 1998.

"This is the day we've been waiting for so long," said Smithburg Mayor Mildred Myers. "It seems like it's been forever."

After years of planning, fundraising and waiting, people are glad they are getting a better library, said Judith Ferro, head of the Friends of Smithsburg Library committee.

"We all love that tiny stone building that's been our library for more than 80 years ... but think of the future generations who will come to the new library and learn to love books," Ferro said.

Kelly Kline, 37, of Smithsburg, said her children Coryn, 3, and Cole, 6, would have participated in more programs if the children's section was more accommodating.

"The library was entirely too small," Kline said.

She said they will be regulars at the new library.

Myers said the Smithsburg Historical Society will move to the current library, which served as a jail until Smithsburg Library Club purchased it in the 1920s.

There also are plans to build a multimillion-dollar library in Boonsboro and update the central library in Hagerstown, library officials said.

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