Gaithersburg library opening pushed back -- Gazette.Net


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Gaithersburg’s newest librarian, Kay Bowman, is attracting anxious questions about the city’s renovated public library.

Bowman, a Bethesda resident and Gaithersburg library’s branch manager, said her foray into the Gaithersburg community has uncovered real excitement for the facility. But, one question comes up more frequently than any other: When will it open?

“They’ve been without a library for years now, so they’re very anxious for it to open,” Bowman said.

The library, under construction at the corner of Montgomery Village Avenue and Lost Knife Road, is about 65 percent done, according to Ernest Lunsford, the county’s Building Design and Construction Division Chief.

The library is slated to open in September or October, Lunsford said. The original opening date was anticipated to be in the spring of 2013. Lunsford said the construction is progressing as planned, but previous issues with stormwater management, which were discovered after construction began, set them back.

Bowman has talked to communities in the Gaithersburg area to gauge interest in possible programs and ask what people want from their neighborhood library.

Among other things, there is demand for computer literacy, English conversation clubs and Chinese book clubs, she said.

“I know that we’re going to have the most world language [books] because the demographics reflect the need for that,” Bowman said. Bowman has served the county as a branch manager at the Aspen Hill library, Davis library and most recently, the Bethesda library, where she spent the past six years.

The interim Gaithersburg library on the second floor of Lakeforest Mall contains a small fraction of what the two-story renovated library will offer. The interim library holds about 13 percent of the main branch’s materials. The remainder has been stored away until the main branch re-opens, Bowman said.

The biggest element missing from the interim library is internet access, Bowman said. The newly renovated library will offer wireless internet and many more computers than the library previously had.

“The computers there were in very high demand,” Bowman said.

Staff from the interim branch have been given the option to switch to the main branch once it opens and the interim branch closes. They will seek staff who speak multiple languages, especially Spanish and Chinese, Bowman said.

The Gaithersburg area is “a very diverse community, so we want to make sure we represent them,” she said.

The cafe that had previously been located in the library will return, though Bowman said the vendor has not yet been determined.

Lunsford said the exterior of the building has been mostly finished.

“Interior finishing would be the next large magnitude effort,” he said. “That would happen over the summer.”

Construction on the Gaithersburg library kicked off in November 2011. Montgomery County approved a bid by Henley Construction Company Inc. in October of 2011 for the $25.6 million project. The company is adding 22,200 square feet on the original 33,700-square-foot main level, The Gazette previously reported. A second floor, measuring 7,900 square feet, will contain meeting rooms, including one with a capacity of 300 people, and an office of the Gilchrist Center, which offers free and low-cost English language classes, citizenship preparation and computer courses.

scarignan@gazette.net