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Parkville Library

9509 Harford Road

Public library service in the Parkville area began as early as 1895 when Mr. Thomas F. Malonee, the Principal at the old Parkville School #6, opened his school library to the general public. Miss Sabina Fleming, the school's Vice-principal, was Parkville's first librarian. By 1917 patrons and children could select books from a pocket-sized printed book catalog. Friday was "Library Day," and on that day books could be borrowed or returned. There is no further record as to how long the first public library continued, but it probably ceased to exist sometime after World War I. The remaining books were given to Parkville High School.

Just prior to World War II, the Parkville area, like many other areas of Baltimore County, began to experience rapid growth. In 1948, following a study by a county-wide committee, the Baltimore County commissioners took steps to establish a county library. The county library's trustees recognized that Parkville was one of the communities in need of a branch library. Money, however, was limited. Parkville was one of the first communities to receive the county's new bookmobile service which began September, 1952. The bookmobile stopped at the corner of Harford Road and Linwood Avenue every Friday evening from 6:30 to 8:30. The stop was later moved to the Parkville Shopping Center.

In 1959, a movement to open a library in Parkville gained strong momentum when a group of concerned community members united to form the Parkville Library Association. This group held its first meeting on Sunday, February 22nd, 1959 at the Hiss Methodist Church. A constitution was later drawn up and adopted and Mr. Pete Dobbs was elected as the Association's first president. Their stated goal was "to secure, as quickly as possible, a permanent public library for the greater Parkville area."

The Association saw that its first task was to secure the support of the County's government officials. Through the concerted efforts of the Association's members, the County Librarian and the Board of Library Trustees, the County government voted in 1960 to appropriate funds as part of the 1961 budget for the establishment of a Parkville Library. On July 5th, 1961 the Parkville Library opened in rented quarters at 9221 Harford Road, next door to Weber's Moving and Storage Company. It was the 11th branch of the Baltimore County Public Library system. Mr. Marvin Thomas served as the first Branch Librarian until October 1963 when he became the Director of the Howard County Public Library. Miss Elizabeth Thornley succeeded him as Branch Librarian and served in this capacity until her retirement in July 1972.

The rented quarters at 9221 Harford Road proved to be only temporary. As the Parkville community continued to grow, so did the use of the library. The need for a permanent, up-to-date facility became more apparent. During this time the Parkville Library Association continued its efforts to acquire County tax support for a new building and to promote public library services and activities in the Parkville community. Its members organized book donation drives, raised funds for library furniture and equipment, sponsored library contests, promoted library discussion groups and local art exhibits, and helped other Baltimore County communities organize their own library groups. Their primary goal was to secure a permanent building.

In 1967, a parcel of land owned by Baltimore County on Harford Road between 5th and 6th Avenues  was designated for a new Parkville Library building. In 1968 preliminary plans for the new building were approved and in 1969 the County government authorized the acceptance of bids for building the new branch. The contract was awarded to the Anchor Construction Company. The building itself was designed by Watkins and Magee, a local architectural firm..

On January 10th, 1971 the Parkville Library opened in new, modern facilities at 9509 Harford Road. The new branch, a split-level structure with the adult area on the top floor, the main lobby, charging desk and workroom on the middle floor, and the children's area and public meeting room on the ground floor, opened with a total book stock of 49,000 volumes and 175 magazines and newspapers. It was also the first building in the County library system to have a ramp entrance for people in wheelchairs.  The branch was also referred to as the Parkville-Carney Library, after an appeal by residents of Carney, to show that both communities would be served. The success of the new facility was evident by a 13.4% increase in circulation during its first year, which was the largest increase in the county system.

The Parkville Library Association turned its attention to acquiring and providing gift funds for landscaping, equipment and library programs. The individuals most active in the Association included Mrs. Lillian Bassford, Mr. Peter Dobbs, Mr. James Evans, Mr. William Feige, Mrs. Adelle Feist, Mr. George Fitch, Mrs. Margaret Fry, Miss Mary Geeson, Mr. William Guba, Mrs. Claire Hennessy, Mr. Edward Lipinski, Mr. Edward Lucas, Mr. John Martini, Mr. Malcolm Neifeld, Mr. Leigh Noyes, Mr. Elton Oakes, Mr. Louis Petrick, Mrs. Ruth Rich, Mr. Arnold Rohner, Mrs. Marilyn Ryan, Mr. John Schlee, Mr. Edward Stuart, and Mr. William Wakefield. On January 23, 1974 the Association was honored when Mrs. Marilyn Ryan, its President, was appointed to the Board of Library Trustees for Baltimore County.

The library continued to grow and add new materials through the 1970's and 80's. The building has twice undergone extensive renovations. As the use of records and 8mm film faded away, new audio visual forms such as DVDs and CDs became very popular. Keeping up with new technologies, the branch introduced printed book catalogs, roll microfiche catalogs, CD-ROM computer catalogs and now on-line library catalogs available from home and in the library. Since the fall of 1996, free Internet service is available in the library.

The Parkville Library continues the vision of Principal Thomas F. Malonee who stated in 1885 that he was starting "a public library...from which the patrons and friends of educational progress might derive benefit."