SNOW HILL – Local libraries have a lot to look forward to this fall, as the new Ocean City Library is on track to be completed before the end of the year and the system has received a grant to enhance the rate of reading in Worcester County.
“It is moving along. They are in the interior. They’re doing drywall. They’re doing painting,” said Worcester County Library Head Mark Thomas. “They should be finished in a couple of months.”
Thomas said he hopes to move the Ocean City Library into its new premises before the end of the year.
In addition to the interior work, the County Commissioners approved the furniture order this week.
The extremely high, over-budget cost overruns that showed up in the bidding of the project have made county elected officials wary. The $270,000 cost of the furniture and shelving for the new building fits the budget as planned, however, said Gerry Mason, chief adminstrator of Worcester County.
“Is this going to be it?” asked Commissioner Judy Boggs.
Cautioning there’s need still room in the budget, Thomas answered, “In addition to this there’s going to be a significant order for computers and information technology.”
Thomas added, “I think it’s going to be a dramatic enhancement of the library services in Ocean City.”
Systemwide, the county libraries are looking forward to “The Big Read,” an extensive grant funded program to promote reading and the arts funded by a grant.
“The Worcester County Library was one of only 117 organizations in the entire country that was awarded this grant this year,” said Thomas.
Reading levels are declining across the entire country, and with them voting and civic participation, said Thomas. A library’s mission is to actively encourage reading, he said.
“The Big Read” centers on “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” the classic book by Zora Neale Hurston. The system has ordered 2,000 copies of the book, which are available to borrow on the honor system from libraries in Worcester, Wicomico, and Somerset counties and some bookstores.
The program will also enrich inmates at Worcester County Detention Center and the Eastern Correctional Institution. Nursing homes and Senior Centers will also take part.
A Roaring ‘20s Fashion Show will kick off the “The Big Read” Sept. 25 at Stephen Decatur High School. The event will begin at 6 p.m.
Book discussions will be led by scholars throughout October at libraries in all three counties. The program will also offer a series of jazz performances.
“This is a great idea,” said Gulyas.
Thomas praised event coordinator Lisa Harrison, saying, “Most of the work has fallen on her shoulders and she has done a fantastic job.”