The Reisterstown branch of the Baltimore County Public Library now features a new play section for children, a new teen space and a modernized interior with more room to meet and opportunities for digital growth.
The branch reopened in September after a 14-month renovation for $3.8 million—funded in part by a capital grant from the Maryland State Library.
The project was a collaborative effort among the Baltimore County government, the Baltimore County Division of Property Management, the Baltimore County Office of Information Technology and BCPL.
Reisterstown Branch Manager Jana Korman says renovation plans had been a long time coming.
“Parts of it are 200 years old,” she says. “This library is beloved by the Reisterstown community. The community is very loyal to this library,” but the library needed to be updated to provide more comfortable, workable spaces to meet their needs, she adds.
Both floors were gutted and the interior remodeled. Enhancements include meeting spaces and restrooms, a new history room and an enclosure of the central courtyard to provide a year-round indoor space.
One of the most significant updates was to family spaces.
“We had a very, very small children’s section. We didn’t really have room for fun activities,” Korman says of the library pre-renovation.
Now features for kids include a play kitchen, sensory stations on the walls and a lot of child-oriented furniture. The library’s teen area was also expanded.
Within the month, families will have the opportunity to preserve their family histories by using the library’s DIY digitization lab to load media such as videotapes, audio tapes and slides onto an external hard drive or flash drive.
Korman says the library is slowly bringing back indoor programming, beginning with baby and family story times. Middle schoolers are returning for teen time after school.
Library director Sonia Alcántara-Antoine says the Reisterstown branch has always been a popular afterschool meeting place for students and their families.
Now it can continue to be so without losing any of the character. The original exterior—including the former Franklin Academy, which opened in 1820—is still intact. The bricks and mortar and original windows have been repaired and restored.
“This renovation allows us to provide much-needed space, energy efficiency and modern features while respecting the historical integrity of the building,” she says in a news release.
Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski called public libraries “critical anchors” for children and families.
“This is an amazing day for the entire Reisterstown community, and we are excited to provide this state-of-the-art renovation which will serve our residents for years to come,” he adds.