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Annapolis Doubles Down on Libraries

One closes (for now); two open

While the new Annapolis library is being built at the site of the old branch on West Street, branches have opened in Westfield Annapolis Mall and at the Monarch Academy off of West Street.
       Finding a public library in Annapolis this spring has become a lot more interesting.
      The 53-year-old Annapolis Library on West Street is now closed, its building scheduled for demolition. With a new library planned for that same spot — and several pop-ups already open — Annapolitans don’t have to look too far for their public library fix. The Annapolis Library is making its temporary home in Monarch Academy on Capital Drive. And a library experiment has just opened in the Westfield Annapolis Mall. 
       The new Annapolis Monarch Library, opened April 16, is off West Street on Capital Drive, with helpful signs pointing you in the right direction. The library and Monarch Academy charter school share the same building, but the library has its own and separate parking spaces and wing.
       In the entryway, you’ll see large renderings of the digitalized plans for the future public library.
      Past the entry, the library exists as one spacious, airy room, with help desks right at the front and a large children’s section past the stacks. Library staff are eager to answer questions about their new home. 
      Gloria Davis Harberts, regional manager for the area, is accommodating and ready to help patrons out of any confusion. 
      “We had people lining up outside before we opened,” Harberts told me. 
      Almost 9,000 items are already in the Monarch location, and the hold shelves are filling up with requests. 
       Harberts wants to make sure the library’s stay in Monarch brings in more users than ever. Class trips  through the library with Monarch Academy students are already a hit.
       “Some of the students have never been to a public library before,” she says. 
       Creating enthusiastic students and making libraries fun are two goals Harberts hopes to meet. 
 
 
A New Discovery
     Nowadays, you can also go to the library when you’re at the mall. Discoveries: the library at Westfield Annapolis Mall, opened April 30. The 3,000-square-foot space is nestled next to Crate and Barrel in the west wing of the mall, across from the Under Armour store.
     “We believe this new library will open many people’s eyes to what a modern library is and does,” Anne Arundel County Public Library chief Skip Auld says. “Public libraries have transformed from simply being places where people pick up their reading or viewing or listening materials to places where people gather to see friends and neighbors and make new friends, to learn from programs.”
      Technology and entertainment play a large role in this space, with a 3D printer, laptop rentals, self checkout, free movie streaming and online tutoring. 
      New Discoveries branch manager Rachael Myers and her team have lots of new programs in the works, many focused on children and teens. There will be early literacy programs and a Discovery Dock children’s area, along with a bilingual reading corner every Tuesday morning.
      To help make the library a creative community, the Annapolis Arts Alliance has partnered with Discoveries Library to showcase local art in the space. The pieces will be changed regularly to feature new artists and new types of art.
      The Discoveries Library is also more accessible to readers and shoppers with Saturday hours, 10am-5pm. 
      “This branch is completely separate and different from the Monarch Academy space,” says Library Communications Manager Christine Feldmann. It has a very different atmosphere. “We hope to prove that bringing a library into an already highly trafficked area will expose the library to new customers and reengage those that haven’t used a library in a while.” 
      Discoveries will be open until the end of 2019. Depending on the success of this space, the library could make another home at the Westfield Mall. 
 
What to Expect
       The new library on West Street is planned to open in late 2019 or early 2020. 
       The new 32,500-square-foot library will be built where the old library stood, the lot now enlarged from 3.9 acres to 4.7 acres. 
       To serve the needs of a changing community, the new building will have a section for tutoring, large computer stations, separate meeting spaces of different sizes and a business center equipped with tools and services such as shared office space.
     There will also be a vending area for snacks and drinks, expanded children’s spaces with comfortable seating and a tinker lab for workshops and classes. 
 
Test It Out
       As a new Annapolitan, I signed up for a library card while I was asking questions. I figured it was a good test of the new Annapolis Library at Monarch 
       After walking through the stacks of fantasy and fiction, I approached the help desk and asked for a card. 
      Five minutes later I was a new library cardholder with all the information I needed. I spotted an interesting-looking new thriller on the staff picks shelf, checked it out and took it home where it’s mine … for seven days.