In the past month, progress at Potomac Library has included the installation of most furniture, reinstallation of computers, and the return of staff and supplies to the building. The collections are starting to move back into the building, and finishing touches are being put in place on wall finishes, technology, and more.
Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich will join Montgomery County Public Libraries, other officials and community members at 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 15, for ceremonies reopening the Potomac Library. The branch has been closed since May 22, 2022, for significant renovations.
“The Potomac Library is an important epicenter for local residents to learn, meet and have access to critical resources, such as computers, classes, events — as well as free COVID rapid tests and facemasks,” said Elrich. “This re-opening has been eagerly anticipated, and we are thankful for the patience and understanding of the library’s patrons during this renovation. I want to thank Montgomery County Public Libraries, the Department of General Services and the Friends of the Library [Montgomery County] for their work to improve this library for the next generation.”
The renovation work included the replacement of all flooring, reconfiguration and updating of shelving, painting throughout, a new service desk, new lighting, redesign of the children’s reading nook, installation of security equipment, the addition of lounge seating and study areas, replacement of the entry doors, creation of a family restroom and the updating of interior and exterior signs.
Work was also performed to bring the building into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“We are so excited to reopen our Potomac branch to its community members, who we know have been anxiously anticipating this day,” said MCPL Director Anita Vassallo. “I hope they will be as pleased as we are about all the refurbishments.”
By Edythe Wingate, President
Friends of the Potomac Community Library
We are sad to report that we have lost our struggle with the Friends of the Library, Montgomery County (FOLMC). You may recall that in March last year, they unilaterally determined that it is preferable for there to be one governing body, thereby notifying all chapters to dissolve. With an attorney we strategized as a board and with other chapters. But, in the end, since FOLMC had the backing of Montgomery County Public Libraries (MCPL), the odds were against us. We saw no way to move forward and continue our efforts to enhance the Potomac Library, our original mission. We have made the decision to dissolve our chapter. In so doing we have tried to distribute our funds in the way we felt would best benefit our library and community.
The hard-earned money is going for five charitable or educational purposes. First, is the Potomac Village Garden Club to enable them to continue to maintain the library grounds in the manner to which we’ve become accustomed to seeing and enjoying them. Second, is the Noyes Children’s Library Foundation for one of their goals, “to inspire community engagement so that all children can discover the wonders of books,” is very much what we saw as part of our mission. Third, we allocated some money to Montgomery History to enable them to continue to make Montgomery County history come alive and send the curious to the library for more information. Fourth, the Friends were big supporters of and participants in Potomac Day, so we are donating a small amount to help support that happy community event. And lastly, the bulk of the money is going to Montgomery County Public Libraries to benefit not only the Potomac Library, but all libraries in Montgomery County.
As many of you know, the Potomac Chapter of the Friends of the Library started 32 years ago as the first of its kind in the county. Karin Currie, our founder, saw the need for community support for the Potomac Library and then did something about it. Karin has continued to be actively involved ever since. Christiane Sorel was our attorney then in 1991 and has continued to offer her services to us pro-bono. Over all those years, with the help and support of our community, we have grown and brought benefits to the Potomac Library in a myriad of ways. We have enjoyed sponsoring author talks, Great Decisions forums, book sales and programs for children. We were glad to finance the purchase of computers, furniture, carpets and more. We routinely helped fund the cost of the landscaping around the library. Each fall we represented the library by participating in the Potomac Day festivities and by bringing to life a favored storybook character. Most recently we gave $40,000 to update the staff kitchen; several years ago, we made a $30,000 donation to MCPL for collection development. The list goes on. In 2019, we were thrilled when the Potomac Chamber of Commerce honored us with their Citizen of the Year Award.
For those of you who are wondering "What now?" there are several answers. All current members of the Potomac Friends will remain as members of the FOLMC. Future memberships and contributions can be made through them to be used as they see fit, either to benefit the Potomac Library or the entire library system. To volunteer, you will now have to apply to Rockville to be a volunteer in Potomac. Sadly, the end of community at the Potomac Community Library is now.
We on the board want to thank you for your friendship and support over the years. Support included not only your membership, but also attending our programs and sending donations. One generous donor delighted the children and adults by making it possible to keep the fish swimming in the aquarium year after year. Without you, we couldn't have done the many things that have added vibrancy, interest, and a sense of home to the Potomac Library.
I also want to thank the current board, most have been involved for over five years: Karin Currie, Judy Davis, Selby McPhee, Jackie Etelson, Ann Eagleson, Gael Cheek, Margaret Vogel, Doris Valis, Sheila Graves, and Carol Westrick. Also helping were Gary Waugaman who maintained our terrific website and Anne Fitzgerald who took care of the eye-catching lobby bulletin board. Special thanks go to Neil Currie (a drafted spouse) who led the exceedingly popular Great Decisions for eight years. Ralph Buglass, you knew as our wonderful newsletter editor. Denice Shaw brought the various storybook characters to life each year at Potomac Day. Judy Davis, our awesome book sale chair, who with her loyal volunteers were the primary source of our income. Thank you each and every one.