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September 24, 2022

Open book: Ribbon cut on new LaVale Library

Credit: Cumberland Times-News, Lindsay Renner-Wood

Dozens of folks gathered Friday in LaVale to cut the ribbon for “the community’s living room.”

That’s how Allegany County Library System Executive Director John Taube described the vision for the newly renovated LaVale branch at its opening ceremony in the evening. The ribbon-cutting was held ahead of a day of planned activities at the library on Saturday in honor of its launch.

The renovations were the facility’s first since it opened in 1975, and the space doubled from roughly 8,500 square feet to 17,000. The newly redone library features a spacious conference room that can accommodate up to 100 people, and work stations line the window facing National Highway.

At the back of the building, the reading room offers plenty of natural light and a relaxing environment for library patrons to thumb through a book or otherwise quietly relax. There’s 12 public computers available for use, as well as a recording booth.

Taube credited the staff at the LaVale branch for making the new building as inviting as it is.

“When the building was turned over to us, it was just a building,” Taube said. “When the staff got in there, they really turned it into a library.”

In addition to books, movies and other traditionally offered items, patrons can also check out items from the “library of things,” which features everything from cake pans to drill bits.

The library won’t just offer attractions inside, Taube said. To tie in with the already-busy LaVale streetscape, he said, they offer a patio for folks who’d like to read al fresco, and they plan to construct a nature walk as well. There’s also talk of butterfly gardens and outdoor book clubs and story times, Taube said.

“There will be all kinds of things happening,” Taube said. “It’s going to be our biggest branch with something going on all the time. We want people to wake up on a Saturday morning and say, ‘What should we do today? Let’s go to the library! There’s always something there.’”

In his remarks at the ribbon-cutting, Taube thanked the various entities that helped get the project going, as well as the community. The opening was also honored with a proclamation from Gov. Larry Hogan and a letter of congratulations from U.S. Rep. David Trone.

“When we started the design and envisioning what we wanted this library to be, we thought of it as the community’s living room, a place where great things happen, and a spot where something is always going on,” Taube said. “We’ve designed that building and built a library to be your newest community partner, in our journey to learning to fun and to prosperity. The investments that we’ve made here today in our community will pay dividends for years to come.”

Friday’s ribbon cutting, said Allegany Commission President Jake Shade, was “a long time coming.”

“This is one of the nicest libraries in the state of Maryland, and it’s right here in Allegany County, right here in the heart of LaVale,” Shade said. “It’s so, so important for the success of our community. We have to have nice things. We have to have things that people are proud of, and this is definitely one of them.”

State librarian Irene Padilla said the LaVale renovations received more than $4.3 million in state capital funds for design, construction and furnishing.

“This is a beautiful library,” Padilla said.

Library board of trustees president Terry Michels said the renovated and expanded branch “represents amazing opportunities for our community.”

Michels credited Taube and the “friendly and knowledgeable” library staff for bringing the new branch to fruition.

“There’s an awful lot of books in there to move, and they did it,” Michels said.