Montgomery County Libraries are Getting a Make-Over


Aiesha Solomon

Marilyn J. Praisner Library Reopening Nov.16th.

Aiesha Solomon, Staff Writer

Montgomery County is changing up their system for remodeling and updating the facilities of their public libraries.

Usually they only change their facilities once every 20-25 years, but many libraries are now being “refreshed” as an example of Montgomery County Public Libraries (MCPL) newest project. Up to 18 MCPLs will be renovated, updated, and remodeled after 20+ years of use from families all over Maryland.

This is only the start though, as eight MCPL branches are already recarpeted and repainted. Aspen Hill, Connie Morella (Bethesda), Davis, Kensington Park, Little Falls, Quince Orchard, Twinbrook, and White Oak branches were part of the FY17-18 projects completed.

This project was started on the FY15-16 projects of 2015-2016, with the Twinbrook and Kensington Park Libraries. Now the scheduling has allowed up to three libraries in Montgomery County to be remodeled every year for the FY16-18 projects. Currently the FY18-19 library projects, Marylin Praisner branch library is scheduled to be reopened on Nov. 16, 2019.

By 2022, all 21 MCPL branches should be in their newest conditions and ready for public use. Everything from new bathrooms, improved meeting rooms, new information kiosks, computers, modified service desks, and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) improvements according to Regina Holyfield-Jewett, the Administrative Specialist.

Many people may ask why the MCPL association is changing their rules for fixing up their libraries and the Refresh Project page on MCPL’s website has an answer to that. The website explains, “A ‘refresh’ project is a new Capital Improvement Program process approved by County Council and the County Executive to allow library buildings to get significant and timely updates without having to close for the lengthy time it takes for a full renovation. The Library Refurbishment CIP funds programmatic, cosmetic and service impact updates to two to three libraries every year.”

Now that this new Capital Improvement program has been instated, library-goers no longer have to wait two years or three for their public library to be fixed every 20-25 years. Every few years, the 21 branches will be fixed up in significantly less time (six to eight months) so users can get back to work fast.

While Montgomery County residents think the money is mostly coming from their taxes, the funds for the refresh project actually come from “two Level of Effort project funds in the Library Department’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP). Those funds are Library Refurbishments and 21st Century Library Enhancements”, according to their website and Regina Holyfield-Jewett. This also means more than 80 percent of the funding comes from G.O. Bonds, and the rest from Maryland State Aid, according to the Montgomery County MD: Capital Budget website.