NEW CARROLLTON — The Prince George’s County Memorial Library System (PGCMLS) is planning to upgrade several libraries throughout the county. However, construction has been delayed at the New Carrollton and Hyattsville branch setting construction plans back. The plan for the revamped libraries began with the Laurel and Bowie branches a few years ago. The New […]
NEW CARROLLTON — The Prince George’s County Memorial Library System (PGCMLS) is planning to upgrade several libraries throughout the county. However, construction has been delayed at the New Carrollton and Hyattsville branch setting construction plans back.
The plan for the revamped libraries began with the Laurel and Bowie branches a few years ago. The New Carrollton branch closed for construction in December 2015 and was initially set to open in June of 2017.
“It’s taken such a long time because the original building is totally concrete and with old buildings, the soil is really bad,” said PGCMLS Chief Operating Officer for Support Services Michael Gannon. “We’re looking at opening next month if everything goes right.”
Meanwhile, the Hyattsville branch closed for demolition in April 2017 with a temporary location opening up a few feet away and was originally projected to be completed in the fall of 2019. However, construction of this library has yet to get started because the library system must wait on the county to initiate the project.
“We had funding in our budget to have a temporary location nearby, so it’s over there on America Boulevard,” Gannon said. “The county’s Office of Central Services manages all the library’s building projects because the county owns the library buildings, so they manage all of our construction projects. We wait for the county to start the process.”
The library has still been able to bring in good business at the temporary location, Gannon said. Its placement in the plaza area has brought new customers to the library and to the surrounding stores creating a good synergy.
“We planned to offer our current collection and enough service so that there is no drop-off,” said Director of Community Engagement Robin Jacobsen. “We’ve been very fortunate to have one close to the original location.”
Since the relocation of the library, the branch has been offering pop-up locations in the surrounding area, such as the Greenbelt Theater and the University Christian Church, to bring more books and programs to adults and kids.
“It’s been an interesting evolution,” said Jacobsen. “We want to offer not just great traditional service and business.”
The Hyattsville branch contained a lot of archival information in its Maryland Room, which will be redone as the Prince George’s Room when construction is completed to be more county focused.
For the time being, all of these documents and books have been placed in warehouse storage nearby in a climate controlled room to preserve the old material.
Despite the small, single floor temporary space the library is currently in, it remains relatively busy throughout the day, and the staff and residents are making the best of what they have.
Construction began on these libraries in the first place because the original buildings are old and outdated.
The Hyattsville branch initially built in 1964, was completed at a time when the technology of today did not exist, so there are hardly any electrical outlets and is energy inefficient.
The New Carrollton branch was built in 1971 and won a design award at the time but is now unfit for the current period for the same reasons.
When the project is completed, the updated version of the New Carrollton branch will include a new children’s area with a 270-gallon fish tank and a sitting area, two modern meeting rooms and seven study rooms. There will be a vending machine area and car charging stations in the parking lot. According to Gannon, they are now putting in last minute touches such as the furniture and books and are awaiting final inspection.
“We want to build a state of the art library, like the Laurel Branch with lots of computers and an interactive children’s area,” Gannon said. “We want to make it a destination that people want to go to.”
The Bladensburg branch was supposed to begin construction this year, but the funding was pushed back two years because although the design is complete, the county felt there were too many projects going on at the same time.
“The funds for construction projects come from bonds that the county sells and they didn’t want to raise the limit too high because the county has a triple-A bond rating which means that they pay the lowest interest rate you can pay on bonds, which is really good for a financially sound county,” Gannon said.
“Unfortunately for us, a lot of our projects had been waiting to be ready and they kinda all came at the same time. The county felt we had too many projects at the same time.”
The final project in the works at this point is the Surratts Clinton Branch. For this library, which won’t require complete demolition, the plan is to add more windows, create a bigger children’s area, and add more seating. The hope is that after the New Carrollton branch opens, construction can begin on this one.