It replaced an inadequate and aging facility.
It was ten years ago that a brand new C. Burr Artz Library opened, and it's been a boon to that area of downtown Frederick. Located at 110 East Patrick Street near the Carroll Creek Linear Park, Library System Director Darrell Batson says the number of patrons went from approximately 400 per day to 1200. And across the library system, he says the number of visitors increased from 121,000 annually in 2003 to 2.9-million in 2012.
During the time the new C. Burr Artz Library opened, a number of new libraries went up in communities around Frederick; some were replacements to existing facilities, and others were new libraries in communities which never had them. Right now, Batson says, new library construction is on hold. "We still hope to in the future to build a new facility in Walkersville and Middletown, and to work out towards Myersville and the Lake Linganore--Spring Ridge area,"he says. "But that's going to have to be in the future. At the present, there are no plans in the county CIP for any new construction."
In this age of the internet, Batson says libraries are still relevant. "Everything is not on the internet. And everything you can access on the internet--I know this may come as a shock--is not necessarily true," he says. "Sometimes when you want some very specific information, unless you're willing to subscribe to that internet database, you're not going to get it."
Batson says the Library System subscribes to a number of internet database sites which patrons can get to through their library cards.
But despite the heavy use of computers, Batson says many library patrons still like to check out books. "Sometimes people think when a new technology or a new format comes out, it automatically eliminates the older one, and that's not the case," he says. "Two-thirds of everything circulated in our libraries is still printed, hardback. One-third is electronic."
The Library system has been struggling with the County Commissioners in regards to funding. In July, library officials were told every quarter to submit their list of books, music and other purchases to the commissioners for evaluation before funding is released. Many in the community said this smacked of censorship, but Batson says the items in the list submitted to the Commissioners have already been purchased. "They do not select the materials. They do not approve the materials. By state law, that's the purview of the library board of trustees. They're simply reviewing and looking," he says.
Commissioner Billy Shreve has been a critic of the library, even pushing for using school libraries as public libraries. Batson says neither the Board of Education nor the Library Board want to proceed that way. It sometimes appears that Commissioner Shreve has it in for the libraries, but Batson doesn't think so. "He commented on the Board of Education, on public transportation, on the public library. That's what he does. That's the type of commissioner he is. It's not necessarily bad. He keeps us on our toes. But I wouldn't say he has it in for us. He's always looking for ways to do things better and to be more financially responsible. I can't fault that," Batson says.