by Lisa Tome
Five months of limited space and inconvenience is expected to pay off through long lasting upgrades to the Rising Sun Branch Library.
Beginning in November, and continuing until next April, a majority of the branch will be off limits to patrons. Only what is now the community room, where meetings and programs are held, will remain open.
According to Morgan Miller, assistant director for Cecil County Public Libraries, the building and technology upgrades are badly needed at the branch, which opened its doors in 1994.
"The community has grown. Library use has grown. This branch (averages) 375 visitors per day. We have a lot of young families and the technology needs have grown," said Miller. Miller also said that the branch has a large number of people who check out books. "The readers are in Rising Sun. And that's a good thing," said Miller.
The upgrade will include major updates to the library interior. After the renovation, there will be more seating, more study tables, and expanded services for children. The children's area will triple in size and be enclosed.
There will also be plug-in access offered through the installation of more electrical outlets. There will be more defined areas for elementary and middle school children. Adults will see expanded floor space for the adult book collection. The current check out area will be made smaller.
The temporary library will be smaller in size but will not have reduced services, explained Miller. There will still be public computers and study table. There will be a public copier. Having laptop computers to lend is also being considered. The newest materials will still be ordered and ready to access.
But there will be adjustments.
Programs which would normally start later in the fall, such as the On My Own, Storytime, and Baby Steps programs, will begin September 14, so as to fit them in before the space reduction.
When the library is condensed, programs will either be held before the branch opens to the public for the day or in other locations. Programs will be offered at Rising Sun town hall, and at Rising Sun, Conowingo, and Calvert elementary schools as well as Rising Sun Middle. The Bookmobile will put to use. The cafe at Martin's may also be used for book discussions.
The changes will not result in staff reduction. No staff will lose their positions. An office trailer will be on site while the construction is underway. Some staff may be working in that trailer. "The community will still see their favorite people," said Miller.
Staffers are also reaching out to schools, consulting regarding curriculum needs to ensure that those materials will be on hand in the condensed library. "The end result will be an incredible community library much better aligned with Rising Sun, " said Miller.
Library seasonal usage is tracked. Miller said the time that is selected for the project - November through February and March, is the lowest usage point of the year. "We want to be back for summer reading. And we're still going to be open. This is the least impactful time," said Miller.
Branch users can also opt to subscribe to updates regarding the project. In November, the main entrance will be closed and an alternate entrance, to the right of the current entrance, will be established.
"We're going to have a great library, an incredible library as an end result. We have other branches nearby, Port Deposit, Perryville, and North East. We're all one system and people can certainly use those as well," said Miller. This project is funded through the county capital improvement budget. The Friends of the Rising Sun LIbrary also contributed.