NEW CARROLLTON — After being closed for renovation since 2015, the grand opening of the New Carrollton branch library was held on Sept. 26.
Nearly 100 people gathered in the entryway of the new library, complete with inviting colors, comfortable chairs and a view of the vast expanse of the library beyond the checkout desk.
Prince George’s County Memorial Library System (PGCMLS) Interim Co-CEO Michelle Hamiel opened the ceremony with a speech giving thanks to everyone who made the library possible.
President of the Board of Library Trustees Samuel Epps, New Carrollton Mayor Duane Rosenberg, County Council Chair Dannielle Glaros, PGCMLS Interim Co-CEO Michael Gannon and County Executive Rushern Baker, III addressed the crowd who was ready to see their new library.
After the speeches, they cut the ribbon to let the public into the library to explore, have cake and check out books.
“I’m ecstatically happy because we’ve been working on it so long, but it came out just the way we wanted it to come out,” Gannon said, who primarily oversaw the renovation of this library.
Built initially in 1971, the structure of the New Carrollton Branch Library was based on the Brutalist architectural style, which used a series of rotated equilateral triangles to create the interior layout, from the Field Theory movement of Walter Netsch. At the time the library was built it won a national design award.
Keeping with the traditional design of the first building, the new building kept the outer shell of the structure and the triangular design but still met the needs of a modern day library.
“It’s beautiful,” said Sarah Wommack who came to the opening with her young children. “I can tell they put a lot of thought and effort into it.”
The 58,500 square-foot library contains all of the main branch activities such as the children’s room, two meeting rooms, a conference room, seven study rooms and computers on the main level and facility management functions on the lower level.
A major goal for the new library was accessibility as the restrooms and meeting rooms were on the lower level in the original library. They also wanted to make sure that the library was bright and colorful and use up unused storage space, Gannon said.
The library contains an abundance of technology to keep up with the use of today’s world. There are 66 computers throughout the space and 15 laptops for public instruction in the training lab. In addition to the fax machine, scanner and color printer in the publishing center, there is a 3D printer, virtual reality and gaming in the Teen Zone.
Keeping with the tradition of a themed children’s room in each library, the theme for the New Carrollton Branch is underwater. With that, they have created Discovery Reef, an interactive learning destination that includes a 270-gallon fish tank and a story time room that replicates a deep sea habitat.
Mishell Dickson also came to the library with her children who were excited to explore the children’s room.
“I’m just hoping it provides a comfortable space for people to come and relax,” she said. “Even these little reading nooks they have for the kids, I think that will make the kids want to sit down and read. It will really just bring the community together.”
Baker said that due to his own struggles with reading growing up and the impact that libraries had on him, renovating the county’s libraries to make them places where all children can learn and grow, has been especially vital to him during his time in office.
“It’s what I wanted to do at the beginning of the administration, and that is tying the library system with our education system and with our early childhood learning,” Baker said. “All of these new facilities do just that. They tie not just K-12 but early learning even before they get to school together. It gives these parents and children the opportunity to envision and new world.”
The New Carrollton Branch is the second library completed in a series of renovations to PGCMLS libraries, the first being the Laurel branch. The Hyattsville branch was closed in April 2017 and relocated to a small nearby space but is still waiting for a start date on the construction.
The Bladensburg and Surratts Clinton branches will eventually undergo renovations as well, but start dates have also not yet been determined.
“With all of our renovations countywide on our new libraries, we want to make them the most up to date learning possible for our kids and our families,” Glaros said.
The new library will provide many resources that New Carrollton hasn’t had in its absence, from technology to a place for the community to gather.
“This is a place the community always gathered in the New Carrollton area, and I don’t doubt that it’s going to be an incredible busy very quickly as people discover everything that’s here and more that wasn’t there before,” Glaros said.