Library expansion plans a welcome part of downtown redevelopment

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By The Staff

The Carroll County Public Library is looking at ways to utilize newly-acquired space in vacant downtown buildings. Although we mourn the loss of buildings that would have to be removed in the historic downtown under the library’s project renderings, we believe this is an exciting venture.

First, the space is greatly needed not just by library staff, but also by the downtown community as a whole.

Aside from the current meeting room, there’s not really a comparable space suitable for hosting events that will attract a crowd.

The Courthouse Square is sufficient for many of the community’s large gatherings, but this means a Plan B in the event of inclement weather is hard to find.

The library was recently able to accommodate the Easter on the Square crowds, but there’s simply not enough room if a change to unfavorable forecasts meant hosting events part of a schedule for RaceFest, the Carroll County Tobacco Festival or many other community happenings and events.

Second, the library staff does indeed need the extra space. An expansion would allow the library more space to host events and programming, however it would also serve a second purpose.

The library could then provide quieter spaces throughout the building for those working on job applications, trying to squeeze in an extra hour of studying or maybe for the patron that wants to catch up on the latest top-selling novel.

Third, we want to keep our downtown historical, but we have to constantly look at solutions to solve downtown’s blight.

We are extremely grateful to the downtown businesses that keep storefronts looking nice for not just customers, but also for keeping up the community spirit and wanting to give people a reason to visit downtown.

Unfortunately, next to the library and in the surrounding block, there is unused space. These spaces have gone vacant for long enough and it’s high time we seek creative solutions like the architect’s concept for community space.

We do want businesses in the downtown spaces we have, but some of these places have been neglected for so long that refitting and renovating just isn’t in the cards for people looking at starting up new businesses.

Does that mean we demolish for the sake of demolishing? No. What it does mean though is we have to take a look at current inventory of buildings and determine if building proposals could show a better purpose for those parcels of land.

The days where libraries were only spaces for card catalogs and bookcases are over. Libraries all across the U.S. are getting creative in order to serve patrons and meet community needs. We believe developing this addition into community space is just another way to effectively meet the needs of Carroll Countians.