By Lisa R. RhodesApril 1, 2011
FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. - When Deputy Installation Commander John Moeller was a child, there were no DVDs or CDs to help him learn how to read.
So when Moeller saw the 100 parents and children who gathered Friday at the Fort Meade Medal of Honor Memorial Library for the facility's grand reopening, he was pleased.
"It's a joy for me to see that young people still come to the library and learn how to read the old-fashioned way," said Moeller just before he cut the ceremonial ribbon.
The library staff formally welcomed back the Fort Meade community to the 59-year-old facility that closed for two months to install new carpeting and reconfigure 12 bookshelves.
"It's wonderful to come back," said Karen Hayward, the supervisory librarian. "We felt kind of displaced."
The 5,600-square-foot library closed Jan. 1 so a moving company contracted through the Directorate of Logistics could dismantle, pack, move and store the furniture and large wooden bookshelves. The library's collection of more than 20,000 books, DVDs, audio books and more than 150 magazines and periodicals also had to be relocated, along with 16 computer stations, four Common Access Card readers and a workstation for the disabled.
The old carpet and tiles were removed and replaced with new carpet by the Meltech Corporation, a contractor of the Directorate of Public Works. The total cost of the move and carpeting exceeded $95,000.
Since the library informally reopened March 1, Hayward and her staff ensured that the library's collections were in order and prepared for the grand reopening celebration.
The library is open to all active-duty service members, Reservists, Department of Defense civilians, contractors, retirees and their families.
"The library is very important," said Mariola Craver, wife of Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Keith Craver, who attended with their 3-year-old daughter Zosia. "We get books every week and bring them home and read them."
During the renovations, Hayward and Trudie White, a library technician, worked in offices at the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, answering questions from the public and making referrals to other area libraries. From their office computers, Hayward and White also checked books in and out for callers.
Library technicians Kathyn Stikes, Dawn Stroop and Carol Merrell all worked at the Children's Library at Potomac Place, which features a large reading room and an indoor tree house.
Those who needed to use their Common Access Cards were directed to use the computers at the installation's Army Education Center.
The library's popular Story Time activity for pre-schoolers continued at Burba Cottage during renovations.
At the grand reopening, which coincidentally was held on the 48th anniversary of the library's dedication in 1963, children played with red, white and blue balloons. Parents selected free books that were donated for the occasion and dined on a lunch of turkey sandwiches, potato chips and brownies.
A raffle drawing was also held to give away a Nook e-book reader from Barnes & Noble as well as four $25 gift certificates from the bookstore.
"I'm very happy," said Ivette Rodriquez, wife of Army Spc. JoseA,A' Fernandez, who won the Nook.
Laura Browne, wife of Air Force Master Sgt. Richard Browne, said although she takes her two children, Mia, 4, and Carissa, 6, to the Potomac Place and nearby West County libraries, she plans to visit the post library more often.
"It's nice and close by," said Browne, who was impressed with the collection of audio books.
The Midway Commons resident said the rising price of gas means she is more likely to use library facilities on post.
"It's more convenient," Browne said. "We go to the library every other week."
While the library was closed, the staff learned just how important the facility is to the Fort Meade community, said Hayward.
"I think they missed us," she said.