OCEAN CITY – The new Ocean City branch of the Worcester County Library was open and in full swing this week, welcoming visitors and receiving rave reviews about the new expansive, high-tech facility.
The old 14th Street location, which served Ocean City proudly for nearly 40 years, officially closed its doors earlier this month, providing a bittersweet ending for many but paving the way for the move to the new 100th Street location.
“The move was phenomenally smooth. We had a few IT glitches, but on the whole, it was just wonderful,” reported Branch Manager Andrea Schlottman this week.
The new library debuted with a soft opening last Wednesday, but closed for the holiday weekend. The doors were opened for good Monday morning, as library staff and volunteers welcomed a throng of visitors to the new building.
“Monday brought us a real taste of what summer will be like,” said Schlottman, noting how busy staff has been in the first week.
According to Schlottman, well over 1,200 people visited the library within the first three days.
“There’s been a big wow factor,” Schlottman said of the public response so far, noting the overwhelming support and compliments they have received.
With two stories of open space, rows and rows of books, and twice the amount of computers, the new 13,000-square-foot library easily trumps the 5,000-square-foot, 14th Street location.
Schlottman noted that people have complimented everything from the exterior of the building to the spread out bookshelves to the doubled amount of computers, but the majority of compliments have been in regards to the amount of light and open space the new building holds.
“There’s just been an overwhelming response,” Schlottman said, adding that even volunteerism has increased, with more people coming out, eager to be a part of the new facility.
Of course, not everyone is pleased with the new look, but Schlottman noted only three complaints thus far.
With a new building and location come some inevitable changes.
“It’s going to change some of the dynamics of the library community,” said Schlotmman, explaining that many of their downtown visitors would inevitably change their routine and choose to visit the Berlin or Ocean Pines locations.
Although some of the older crowd will be lost, many new faces have already been seen. Schlottman explained that many of the uptown residents used to travel to the Ocean Pines Library to avoid the downtown traffic and to enjoy the larger facility and parking.
“The north-end support has been really great so far,” she said.
The new space also brings with it the opportunity for more events and activities, giving library staff the opportunity to hold events they could only dream of before with the limited space of the old library.
“Up here, with a 70-person occupancy meeting room, we can do more hands-on activities that we couldn’t do before,” Schlottman said.
Some of the events on schedule for April include a concert performance by classical guitarist Peter Fletcher, an Eastern Shore landscape watercolor painting class and a yoga class, which has already filled up.
As for a grand opening to officially celebrate the new facility, Schlottman reported that a county-coordinated grand opening is in the works, but no official date has been set.