Sunday, February 11, 2018

Guest Post: All About That (Elkridge) Branch

Yesterday I put out a call for information about the Elkridge branch of the Howard County Library. I didn’t have to wait long for an answer.

From Sarah Russo, former teen instructor and research specialist at the Elkridge Branch:

Elkridge is a fantastic branch. Slightly biased, because I worked there before I became a librarian for HCPSS. The new branch will have a DIY center, which sounds amazing - but honestly the librarians there are why I visit. Phil Lord, the branch manager, announces HoHS football games and is just awesome! Veronica ‘Ronnie’ Baker (legendary children’s librarian) and Phil Lord are original to the branch, which they opened in 1993. Ronnie also worked at the Elkridge ‘store front’ branch in the 1980’s.

I am so excited about their new branch!

There’s history there at Elkridge as well... In the early 1990’s, it was announced Columbia was going to be getting a second new library (what would become East Columbia), and Elkridge had barely any service (just a storefront). Elkridge Library actually grew out of a grassroots community action group that wanted to stop a truck stop from going in the area where the library now stands.

In order to meet they gathered at a funeral home (because they had no meeting space)! They raised money to promote the need for a full service library. Eventually the County relented and built the library which was built identical to Savage, but because the budget was tight, Elkridge was built with cinder blocks- while Savage had been finished with bricks.

Elkridge and East Columbia opened almost simultaneously, but as you can see...East Columbia (which housed the library administrative offices until they moved into the old Miller branch) was a much fancier branch!

Underserved for the growing population in this area, and a local grassroots fight for equality in County services...doesn’t it sound familiar?  The story is 25 years old...but from stopping the double stack train station, to fighting for a high school -Elkridge seems to always have to fight for equal treatment (sadly). Luckily there are some great people in Elkridge willing to lead the charge.

But it’s always been the people that work at the library that have made Elkridge Branch worth visiting, and I know you can say that about every branch of Howard County Library! Everyone has a favorite branch...and when Elkridge opens again next month I hope you give my favorite branch a chance.

Sarah Russo is a Middle School Media Specialist in the Howard County School System.

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