I came across this discussion the other day about the possibility of having a library in our part of the town. As we all know all of our surrounding towns have their own libraries – Beltsville, Greenbelt, Hyattsville all have it. Bu what about College Park? My friend Joe Smith also wrote a piece on the same subject and I agree with him in principle of having a library in our area too.

True the UMD has its own system of libraries, but those were primarily designed for the students and I know only a few residents who can go or will be interested to go to grab books from there. Especially when a resident wants to make a trip to a library with younger kids at home, he or she would most likely go to one of the nearest public libraries.

I agree libraries are not like emergency rooms in hospitals, one can survive without them, but libraries can only serve better and they don’t hurt the residents who live around them. Encouraging citizens to read in general is a concern of everyone, especially in this country, where folks are so busy in doing their daily choir and have little time to make a trip to the nearest library.

The issue is probably more acute for north College Park residents, a significant number of them are senior citizens and will most likely to be glad to see a library close to their homes. A close by library can also be a benefit to many parents whose children attend three elementary schools in north College Park.

But here is the problem of starting a library in north College Park. Neither the City nor any of the local government has enough money to start one. There have been talks of starting a community center somewhere in the Hollywood commercial district as part of Route 1 sector plan, and a small library can be a nice addition to this. However the start of such a center is months and most likely years away and so is the possibility of starting a local library in north College Park.

Fortunately, there is another alternative. Residents can start out a small lending library on a voluntary basis. This isn’t something new and many small communities have done this in other parts of the country.

A community lending library is fairly inexpensive to start with and run, since books and other library materials all come from residents themselves as donations. We can probably organize regular used book drives from the community to collect such books time to time.

Lending libraries typically run entirely by volunteer residents. They also work on cataloguing and maintaining the list of library lenders. I don’t think we’ll have problem in finding volunteers to do cataloging / serving books to residents. Most public libraries in other towns are run by volunteers, mostly by senior citizens; fortunately we’ve many of them in our part of the town who’d love to do this.

The next and final thing we need is a small space in our part of the town. We can try to find a corner in YFS or Davis Hall; in case we don’t find one, we can even keep the materials at volunteers’ places and bring them to a common place at a certain time of the week month, when residents can come and get the books. The monthly NCPCA meeting place at Davis Hall can be an option too?