The Anne Arundel County Public Library system is in early talks about a 20-year effort to upgrade facilities all over the county, and has scheduled a series of public meetings on the issue for September.
Library Administrator Skip Auld said the system has hired several consultants to perform a review of the county’s libraries, and will be seeking feedback from area residents and county officials.
The goal, Auld said, is to eventually draft a master plan outlining the renovation and expansion of existing libraries and construction of new ones.
The public meetings with the consultants will be held on Sept. 6 at the Annapolis Area Library, Sept. 7 at the North County Library and Sept. 8 in West County Area Library in Odenton. All meetings will begin at 7 p.m.
The library system has engaged officials from Meyer, Scherer and Rockcastle, a Minneapolis architecture and design firm with offices in Hyattsville, along with Illinois-based library planner Anders Dahlgren.
Anne Arundel County currently operates 15 branches, many of which were built decades ago, prior to the Internet age and before libraries were frequently used as meeting places.
“It’s about how we can modernize this library system,” Auld said. “We are woefully out of date in many ways, and what we’re doing with these planners and architects is to get their expertise, but we also want to get some expertise from the community.”
Auld acknowledged that the current slow economy would make new capital dollars from the county hard to come by, but he said he hoped to position the library system to take advantage of a recovery. He said that under a perfect scenario, a replacement for the Annapolis Area Library would be under construction by next year.
“We feel there’s enough interest in quality of life in this community that we should be a priority to get slotted in the long-range capital planning,” Auld said. “We want to present a 20-year plan knowing that times are really bad now but they won’t always be.”