The Howard County Library System (HCLS) has been busy— bringing in new faces and spaces to encourage and strengthen res-idents’ love of books.
In early February, the system’s East Columbia Branch reopened after a $4.7 million renovation. The year-long project increased the number of quiet study rooms from three to six while tripling the meeting room capacity. The new teen center offers an immersive virtual reality studio, collaborative classrooms and a design lab where students can work on projects and assignments.
A month later, HCLS opened its new LEED designed Elkridge Branch and DIY Education Center. At more than 35,000 square feet, the $33.1 million project features six study rooms, three meeting rooms, a vending café and a business center. The DIY Center offers an expanded book collection along with classes for all ages and a DIY Ed Studio work space.
Tonya Kennon has been appointed president and chief operating officer for the system, taking the helm in late April after the August 2017, retirement of Valerie J. Gross.
Kennon comes to the county after a career in California libraries including serving as the director of the Riverside Public Library.
“I was attracted by the organization’s mission and vision built on the libraries’ education philosophy,” she says. Quality education combined with citizens’ knowledge and skill sets, she says, “Are the best multipliers for developing 21st century thinkers and sustaining strong communities.”*