Members cite safety, cost and other issues.
A proposal to merge the Frederick County Public Library System with school libraries was rejected on Tuesday by the Board of Education during its monthly meeting with the County Commissioners. No formal vote was taken, but the Board of Ed wasn't too receptive to the idea. Members cited safety of the students as one priority because persons from the outside would be coming into the schools to use their libraries while classes are in session.
The problem would be "how you would monitor who in the public could come into the library, and when they'd be able to do that," says Board of Ed President Angie Fish. She also said there's a concern about who will staff the libraries when the schools are closed, and where patrons could park, especially if the school building was being used for an evening event while the library was open.
The idea has been discussed before, but it was recently brought up by County Commissioner Billy Shreve. He noted that a new library for Walkersville would cost just over $6-million, and thought it may be much less expensive to let the public use the nearby Walkersville Middle School library rather than build a new public library.
A proposed new public library for Walkersville is in the County's Capital Improvements Program for 2017.
In the past, Library System Director Darrell Batson has said a school library has materials which are meant to support a school's curriculum, and it may not have a lot of books, periodicals, videos and other materials that a public library would stock. The collections in many school libraries are "sanitized," according to Board of Ed member April Fleming Miler, who also cited concerns about safety and security.
Her colleague, Katie Groth, said allowing the public to come into school libraries or media centers could be a problem, as many are used by students throughout the school day. "Teachers are teaching in the media center. There's equipment being used for instructional purposes," she said.
But the Board of Education did seem receptive to the idea of constructing a separate building next to a school which could be used as a public library, and where students would have access when classes were in session. But Board President Fish said adequate space would be needed. "In terms of a separate building on the same plot of land if there was that space, I don't even have that space," she said.