Library board serves Smithsburg community

September 07, 2009|By JANET HEIM

SMITHSBURG -- Lynn Shaw is a man with a mission. For 25 years, he has served on the Smithsburg Library board and has been treasurer for at least 15 of those years.

Fellow board member Judith Ferro jokes that a trip to the men's room by Shaw might mean he gets voted in again as treasurer in his absence.

Now known as the Smithsburg Library Advisory Board, the active membership, which includes Shaw's wife of 46 years, Jackie Shaw, was a driving force behind the construction of the new library in Smithsburg. Both Lynn Shaw and Ferro said the new library project was a community effort.

Although the new building in Veterans' Park has been open for three years, board members saw a need for a continuing local presence. The constitution and goals have changed now that the library has been built, but the group remains active, Shaw said.


They advocate for their branch library, make decisions on how to spend money from the Central Library and raise funds in the community for specific needs.

"We found a need for an advisory board. It's quite real, quite needed," he said. "We can see things the main library might not see."

The new library -- a homey, lodge-inspired building positioned to take advantage of the sweeping views -- was about 15 years in the making. While the old library in downtown Smithsburg was less than 1,000 square feet in size, the new building is an almost 9,000-square-foot facility designed for lingering, with comfortable reading areas, meeting rooms and up-to-date technology.

"The library was built to match the money we raised. It's perfectly sized for some time to come," said Shaw, who moved to the Smithsburg area in 1982 from Potomac, Md.

He retired from the U.S. Army, where he worked at the Pentagon. The Shaws, who have three daughters, also had their own publishing business, but retired from that several years ago.

The local board raised more than $1 million through grants and private donations, including a $300,000 federal grant Sen. Barbara Mikulski helped secure.

The Smithsburg Library has two funds for expenses -- one that comes from the main library and provides the majority of the funding and the other known as the Friends of the Smithsburg Library fund. Decisions about how to spend money from the first fund are a joint decision by the Smithsburg Library Advisory Board and the main library governing board, said Shaw, 69.

The local advisory board has sole authority over how funds in the Friends account are spent. The advisory group remains in fundraising mode, because the needs of the library continue.

"Our contributions tend to be large, thoughtful gifts from a small group of donors. We would like to broaden that," Shaw said.

Purchases from the Friends account include darkening blinds for the multipurpose room, a fireplace screen and a table to hold a donated reading machine that magnifies reading material for the visually impaired.

A museum-quality picture-hanging system throughout the library for art shows is a new addition, as is a 12-foot Christmas tree and decorations.

Supplies for this year's Smithsburg Pride Days activities at the library and bottled water also came out of the local library fund.

The goal is to create a library that serves as a community center, as well as an information source, Shaw said.

"We do have a nice facility here. We worked to get it here. We want to use it to the max," Shaw said.

For more information

More information on activities and programs at the Smithsburg Library can be found by going to and clicking on the Smithsburg link on the right.

Donations to the Friends of Smithsburg Library Fund can be made in person at Smithsburg Town Hall, at the Smithsburg Library at 66 W. Water St., Smithsburg, or mailed to the library at P.O. Box 648, Smithsburg, MD 21783.

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