BERLIN – The long-awaited $6.25 million Berlin branch of the Worcester County Library opened its doors to the public Tuesday.
Community members young and old began pouring in to the bright new building as soon as doors were unlocked Tuesday. Library officials counted 300 visitors in the first 45 minutes the building was open.
“We’re obviously very excited,” said Jennifer Ranck, director of the Worcester County Library. “We’ll have a grand opening celebration Aug. 7. We should have all the kinks worked out by then.”
The new library, located on Harrison Avenue, replaces the tiny brick building on Main Street that served as the town’s library for decades. Construction of the new building began last May and wrapped up just in time for the library to meet its targeted July opening. Library staff spent the week since the Main Street building closed moving books and other materials into the new facility.
The state-of-the-art 12,000 square foot library, which is located on ground that was once part of Berlin’s famed Harrison Nurseries, features roughly four times the floor space of the old building. It includes an expanded children’s area—complete with sink and supply cabinets—as well as a teen area, art gallery, various reading nooks and a large community meeting and performance room.
Dozens of kids filled the room Tuesday as Silly Joe performed as part of the library’s series of regular children’s events. The library will host an evening performance by violinist Elena Urioste in the new space Wednesday, July 11. The 7 p.m. event, a preview of the upcoming Chamber Music by the Sea Festival, is free.
Visitors touring the new building this week were thrilled with what they saw.
“Everybody’s loving it,” said Ron Cascio, president of the library’s board of trustees, as he provided Delegate Mary Beth Carozza with a tour of the facility. “I’m happy. I’m really happy to see all the kids here.”
Laura Allen, Berlin’s town administrator, was also one of the first people in the doors to glimpse the new building. Though she toured it during the construction process, she said she hadn’t been inside in months.
“This was a fun opportunity,” she said, adding that town officials were happy with the way the building had turned out. “It really fits in nicely with downtown.”
Allen also expressed appreciation for Worcester County officials for working with the town throughout the process.
Joan Scott, a regular Berlin library patron who routinely visited the old facility with her granddaughter, said she was thrilled that Berlin finally had a facility comparable to the one in Ocean Pines.
“It’s amazing,” she said. “We’ve been waiting so long. This is wonderful.”
The Berlin library is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. The facility is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesday and open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.