Shared library? College, county considering it

Howard College and Howard County officials are exploring the possibility of combining the two entities' library facilities under one roof.College trustees and county commissioners will hear a report on the idea when trustees hold their monthly meeting at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Student Union Building's Tumbleweed Room.College President Dr. Cheryl Sparks said the idea hatched a few weeks ago when officials were discussing the best ways to use a $250,000 gift from the Maria Hogue estate to improve the college library.“During a brainstorming session on how best to use the gift … it was an idea we came up with,” Sparks said. “Actually, the idea was first broached about two decades ago. I don't know know why it wasn't pursued, but it's something we want to explore.”All relevant parties to the discussion cautioned, however, that talks are extremely preliminary at this time.“It's certainly something that's worth looking into, but it's just too early to tell if it would be feasible,” County Librarian Hollis McCright said. “There's a lot of things we need to look at … and we definitely need to gather public input.”McCright's comments were echoed by County Judge Mark Barr.“My thoughts are, I don't know if it'll work or not, but we owe it to the taxpayers of Howard County to look at it and evaluate it,” Barr said.If trustees and commissioners react favorably to Tuesday's report, college and county officials would continue discussions into the possible consolidation. Any definite action is likely months away at this point, Sparks said.“In light of tightening budgets everywhere, this is something we want to discuss,” she said. “It would definitely be a significant change … We'll continue discussions between the college and county to see if this is an idea that has merit. If we determine it does, only then would we commence any planning.”