Westernport renovations, 2008
WESTERNPORT — After being closed for five months, the Westernport Branch of the Allegany County Library System has reopened with a brand new look, but hopefully, the same feel.
"This was a complete re-layout," said Jeff Getty, president of the Library Board of Trustees. "We wanted it to be the community living room, bright and inviting. With the number of programs that run through here, it's almost like the population of Westernport coming through every other week."
Though the library has been open to the public for three weeks now, Saturday marked the grand opening and ribbon-cutting of the building that hadn't received a major renovation since 1969.
The renovations, designed by Andrea DePalatis of Spectrum design, involved new paint color and carpeting throughout the library, new shelving units and furniture. Also included in the project was a theme to the entire children's section of the library.
The Enchanted Forest includes bookshelves with stump seats at the end of each row for children to sit and read. In the corner is a small forest full of storage spaces hidden in trees with benches for children to have their storytime.
The trees, built by Terry Bachman of Tangram Woodworks, include storage areas for the children with a canopy of fabric illuminated by tiny lights.
In another section of the library, a mobile created by Kurt Bonello hangs over the sitting area. The mobile was designed not only to be viewed from an adult's perspective but from looking straight up, Bonello said, as he thought it would be placed in the children's area of the library.
The entire project cost $180,000, with $63,000 coming from Maryland, $70,000 coming from Allegany County and the remainder coming from the library system and private gifts.
"This is just a beautiful job here," said Jim Stakem, county commission chairman.
"Libraries are so important. This is very important to the commissioners. You can take it to the bank that we're supportive of libraries in communities."
For Nancy Sudine, branch manager, it was great to see the changes made in the library. She said when the library was flooded in 1996, no structural work could be done to the building besides repainting and cleaning.
She said the response from the community has been a good one.
"The comments we've been hearing are that it's so bright," Sudine said. "If you've been here before, you'd remember how dark it used to be. We have story hours here (in the Enchanted Forest). The kids just love it."
She said she especially liked the way the children's section turned out, enhancing the "child-friendly" atmosphere.
Even for those returning to the library, there was a positive reception to the changes.
"I think it's fabulous," said Eleanor Laffey, former head librarian at the Westernport and Frostburg libraries. "It's just unbelievable how they did this."
Sarah Moses, Cumberland Times-News
Fourteen-year-old Sierra Cavin from Westernport looks through the teen fiction section of the newly remodeled Westernport Library on Main Street Saturday afternoon. The library reopened following renovations. Hours for the library are Monday through Wednesday from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Public libraries, Maryland, Allegany County; Allegany County Library System (Md.), Anniversaries.
Allegany County (Md,), 1924-2010