Planning continues for new Hurlock library

Dorchester Banner/Dave Ryan
Hurlock Branch Library Manager Sara Sears spoke to the Dorchester County Council on Aug. 6 regarding plans for a new building.

CAMBRIDGE — Members of the Dorchester County Council and the public attending the Aug. 6 meeting heard an update on the Hurlock library project. They learned that the existing building, constructed in 1999, has served the town well, but is too small to meet current needs.

Branch Manager Sara Sears said, “The Hurlock Library is a vital information hub in the community. Through children’s services, adult programs, job assistance and loaning materials, we strive to provide equal access to information for all.”

The current seating area is just seven feet wide, she said. That means when community programming is underway, tables and chairs have to be rearranged or taken away, which make the area inaccessible to others. “The lack of a meeting room also prevents us from hosting movies, games, bingo or any other family fun night, and from providing meals in the summertime,” Ms. Sears said. “With a new building, more patrons could benefit from our services and programs.”

Tim Crosby of Crosby & Associates Architecture said his firm has been working with the library since March. “The building is in very good condition,” he said. “It has been well maintained. However, operationally it doesn’t meet current library standards.”

Mr. Crosby said the library has about 5,000 square feet, but considering its patrons’ needs, should have 9,000-10,000 square feet. The town has three nearby lots, and, “Those lots are perfect for the new library,” Mr. Crosby said.

The architectural firm is engaged in an in-depth feasibility study, required for its grant application. “It will take about four months,” Mr. Crosby said.

Hurlock Mayor Michael Henry and Town Manager John Avery also attended the meeting. Mayor Henry noted that the Hurlock Library is the second-oldest in the state, and the oldest on the Eastern Shore.

Beginning in a house, it has moved over the years, as it has grown. “The North Dorchester Community has supported this library since 1898,” Mayor Henry said. “We, the town, believe in this project. This is part of a revitalization of the downtown area.”

The current building could be re-purposed as a museum. “We see ourselves as being in the beginning stages of emerging as a tourism destination. We believe in this project so much that we have the opportunity to provide the property to the library and the county and are willing to work with you in achieving this goal.”

The property offered is at the other end of the block where the current building is located, so it would not have to close while construction is taking place.

As the next step in the process, the feasibility study costs $28,000. The Town of Hurlock, the library, and Crosby & Associates are each covering $7,000.

“We’re looking for a final $7,000 match to start our study,” Library Director Crystal Henningsen said. The feasibility study is due in May of 2020.

The council voted unanimously to contribute $7,000 from the county’s contingency fund.

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