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Monday, July 14, 2014

STEM Education Center opening at Savage Library July 22nd

     Last week I had an opportunity to tour the newly renovated Savage Library.  It will be reopening with a ribbon cutting on Tuesday July 22nd at 12:30.  What is exciting about the reopening is that in addition to the library reopening the new STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) section will also be opening.  The library will now be 24,000 sq. ft in size with the old senior center and Health Department space and 9,000 additional new space.  The senior center and Health Department have moved to the North Laurel Community Center.
     Before showing the new Library space I thought it might be interesting to revisit how different this new space is.  The time period is the early 1990's and communities from around Howard County were advocating to have Howard County Government build libraries, rec centers, senior centers and Health Department clinics in communities beyond Columbia and Ellicott City.  At this time we had one library branch in Ellicott City and two in Columbia.  There was two Senior Centers in Columbia and 7 other lunch sites scattered around the County.  The Carter Center was the one Rec Center in the County.  The only location for Health Department clinics was in Ellicott City.  The reality that faced these community advocates was a County that was going through a recession.  The County was looking to cut its budget because of the reduced tax revenue. Chuck Ecker, the County Executive,  had the unfortunate situation of being "between  a rock and a hard place" with advocates wanting expansion of community services in a time of falling tax revenues.  What came out of this situation was the best solution for the times which was low cost County buildings such as the Elkridge and Savage Libraries which each included a small senior center and in Savage a Health Department space.  Needless to say the two communities were not happy with the low cost design of these buildings.  To save money on the interiors we all got to see what  walls of "finished cinder block" looks like below.

       Needless to say this didn't go over well with these communities who compared their libraries to the new beautiful library which had recently opened in East Columbia.  The comment heard at the community meetings was that their libraries looked like prisons from the outside.
       Fast forward to 2014 and the County has $20 million budgeted for a new Elkridge Library and Senior Center and now with the opening of a world class Savage Library it is truly AMAZING how far these two community resources have come.

     As the announcement of the re-opening stated:
   "The renovated Savage Branch & STEM Education Center is envisioned as a site where HCLS will become a launching point for the STEM career pipeline. The site will have state-of-the-art equipment and a biohabitat garden where youth can learn first-hand about Maryland’s strong biohabitat opportunities."
    "The renovated Savage Branch will include dedicated space for HiTech with a professional grade sound booth and computers with high computing capabilities and professional grade software. Customers with smartphones and tablets can scan near technology posters around the branch for details about classes and the collection."

   "...the branch will feature new and improved lighting, 

70 public access computers (including six for children and 10 for teens), two conference rooms, three quiet study rooms and one group study room, two new children's classrooms, improved customer seating, reading nooks for all ages..."

"a vending cafe with seating area"

"two new children's classrooms"

"video, sound, game and computer equipment"

Anyone want to try a 3-D printer?

" a biohabitat garden where youth can learn first-hand about Maryland’s strong biohabitat opportunities..."

     Mark your calendars for the ribbon cutting on July 22nd and tour a new County resource.  Another reason why last year the Howard County Library was selected as the best library system in North America. 


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