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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Berlin Library still looking for $1.3M

(Oct. 1, 2015) The wind whipped around the dozen or so vendors tables lined up just outside downtown Berlin, but rain never materialized Saturday afternoon when several hundred gathered at the site of the new $4.5 million Worcester County Library.
For now, the space is hardly more than an open field next to the Waystead Inn on Harrison Avenue, but by next year work could begin on the new state-of-the-art facility, which would include enhanced meeting spaces, more computers and better access to the internet, as well as children and teen reading areas.
Whether or when shovels go into the ground, however, will largely depend on whether the state approves a $1 million grant in its next fiscal year budget.
The Worcester County Library Foundation already received $2 million from the county, $430,000 of which went to land acquisition, and $1 million from the state.
The Humphries Foundation added a $150,000 two-to-one matching grant, while the town of Berlin offered $75,000 in matching grant money.
Saturday’s event was designed to introduce the public to the plans for the new library, and to help launch a capital campaign to raise an additional $300,000 for amenities.
Deputy Library Director Jennifer Ranck said that money would be used to outfit the library’s meeting room to accommodate performances, develop an interactive early learning center and expand library circulation by 15 percent.
Several blueprints for the building, roughly three times larger than its predecessor at 11,000 square feet, were fastened to a table using hair clips, while volunteers handed out book-sized brochures of upcoming events.
Elsewhere, volunteers barbequed chicken on a mammoth grill that pushed plumes of white smoke up into the swirling air, while the band WWIIunes shuffled through a throwback set of Dixieland jazz.
Near the edge of the field, a small group of children lined up for pony rides and, because it is Berlin, a man dressed as the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland fashioned balloon animals.
Mayor Gee Williams opened a brief ceremony next to the main stage, flanked by Worcester County Commissioners Bud Church and Diana Purnell, and Berlin Councilmember Lisa Hall.
He began by quoting Ecclesiastes – by way of The Byrds – saying, “There is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven.”
“I know that living here in Berlin is as close to heaven as some of us ever expect to get, but if you discount that, all good things happen when they’re meant to happen,” Williams said.
“Today, after much anticipation, we’ve come together as a community to begin the fundraising that remains for Berlin residents, surrounding neighbors and guests to ensure that we not only have a new Berlin branch of the Worcester County Library, but that it is the best that we are able to build – not only for today, but for generations,” he added.
The old library, a literal stone’s throw away, was built in 1970, Williams said. Before that it was a single-room at the top of the stairs in Town Hall, in what is now his office.
Williams said private donors and community organizations would supply the final funds needed to finish the project through the capital campaign.
“Who are those private donors that we are talking about? Well, that’s you, friends – your family, your coworkers and people anywhere who care about our future,” he said. “The additional $300,000 that we are all working together to raise from private sources, now that all levels of government have pitched in a few million, will ensure that the library is the best it can be both in terms of quality and unique features that everyone is asking for.”
Williams said the library would also include a gallery space, a local history room, an outdoor garden and “an interactive learning area for preschool-age children.”
“Many of these features are simply not available in Berlin, and it’s through the foresight of the Worcester County Library Foundation … [which has] come up with a very exciting plan that will not only provide us with a great library, but a great community resource that we desperately need.
“Before we get the shovels out, let us today pledge our support and our commitment so we can raise the money soon to … try to be shovel ready to not only build the best library that we possibly can, but to also pledge that we will gather together again first for a groundbreaking and also for a ribbon cutting that you, the citizens and friends of the town, will make possible together,” Williams added.
If the second $1 million grant from the state is approved, likely in March or April of next year, Ranck said shovels could go into the ground by fall 2016, with the project taking 13-14 months to complete.
To donate to the new library through the Worcester County Library Foundation mail checks to Worcester County Library Foundation, Inc., 307 North Washington Street, Snow Hill, Md., 21863.
For more information on WCLF or the new library, call 410-632-3970 or visit