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Aberdeen Library

Aberdeen Library
Lisa-Dai Keen Venker
Towson University

Aberdeen Library

The Aberdeen Library is a branch of the Harford County Public Library system located at 21
Franklin Street, Aberdeen, MD 21001. Included is information specific to this branch and the
book and online collection that it provides its community.

Aberdeen Library

Aberdeen Library
On a beautiful sunny Sunday in February, I visited the Aberdeen Branch of Harford County
Public Library. This library is located at 21 Franklin Street Aberdeen, Maryland 21001. The
library is situated in what was previously called the town center. Across the street is the
Aberdeen police station and fire department. Down the street are the local senior citizens center
and the official town park. The population today is estimated to be around 14,000. Aberdeen is
located in the north-eastern area of Harford County, about fifteen minutes from the Susquehanna
River and thirty-five minutes from Baltimore. This small town owes some of its population to
Aberdeen Proving Ground, United States Army Test and Evaluation Command (ATEC). The
majority of the town is filled with average to below average income earners, many of whom
work for or on the base. In recent years, this portion of Harford County has started to see an
increase in population due to new home building. New homes are being filled with families
wishing to move further from Baltimore City, and the growing suburbs of Baltimore County. In
addition, the Base Realignment and Closure Act (BRAC) will eventually cause an increase in
population, road size, and housing. New development is currently being debated among
Aberdeen residence and the national government. A few decisions have been finalized and are at
the beginning phases of construction.

This facility is meant to serve the public. Their vision includes the idea that Harford County
citizens will use the library system as their first information resource anytime, anywhere. The
official mission statement is as follows:

Aberdeen Library

Harford County Public Library provides a creative environment within the county that
encourages the acquisition of knowledge and the love of reading. The library system offers
significant services, resources, and programs that are:
Informational: personal, professional, intellectual pursuits
Education: formal and informal support of learning
Cultural: promotion of the fine arts and the humanities
When speaking with the librarians at the help desk, I asked what type of clientele usually visits
the library. I was surprised to learn that each branch is visited by citizens of different ages. At
this branch, they are frequented by high school students and senior citizen. When I first walked
into the library, I recorded the number of library patrons. Patrons included six children, ten
teens, thirteen adults, and five senior citizens. Many other patrons came and went throughout the

Material in Collection
This library, although small in size, offers a large amount of written text, but even more through
their variety of online databases. This library was divided into multiple sections. The first
portion of the childrens area was the early childhood section. It included new picture books,
emergent readers section, easy books, little books, audio books, and I Can Read books. The
young readers and junior sections, also in the childrens area, included Newberry and Caldecott
winners, junior Maryland books, World Books, fiction, series books, autobiographies, nonfiction,
folk and fairy tales, scouting books, junior nonfiction, and youth books. The electronic sources
include DVDs, videos, talking books, and compact discs (cd's). The cd collection includes
lullabies, folk, Irish, soundtrack, and pop selections. This area includes five computers with

Aberdeen Library

internet access that can be signed out and used. The internet in this area is filtered and blocks
any inappropriate sites.

The young adult section which is sponsored by Cal Ripken Foundation is found in one corner of
the general library area. This corner includes young adult and series section, mystery, fiction,
cliff notes, and test prep study books (GED, SAT). Finally, this section has four computers and
seating dedicated to teens. While visiting, I saw three teens on the computers, and two reading
on chairs.

The adult and general library areas include, fiction, nonfiction, videos, cds, DVDs, current
magazines, romance, series, audio books, large print, mystery, science fiction, westerns,
biographies, books for test prep (MCAT, Praxis), new audio, new fiction, and reference. In
addition to the book selection, there are ten computers on the floor and a quiet room with ten
more computers with full internet and database access.

Access to the library is adequate for all special needs citizens. The library is located on one
floor, with an electronic door entry system. There are wide aisles and computers of varying
heights for wheelchair access. In addition, there is software for computers that includes Mind
Map, text zoom, and ADA technology. Other assistive equipment and materials include Optelec
20/20 video, magnification system, Intellikeys Keyboard, computers with print magnification,
closed-captioned videos and DVDs, and assistive listening devices. I found on a web page
entitled, Serving Our Community, a link that gives information about TDD (hearing impaired)

Aberdeen Library

telephone service (Harford County Public Library, 2008). It states a specific phone number that
can be used to gain information about the library services. When asking the librarians about their
accommodations, they mentioned that the Bel Air library has the largest and most varied
programs for users with special needs.

Book Search
During my visit, I used the computer catalogue to find information on the English Springer
Spaniel dog. The library has a new browser system that is called AquaBrowser Library
(Harford County Public Library, 2008). To use it, you type in your topic, and then a second
screen opens that shows two sections. On the left, is the Discover section which lists the word
you typed and any words that are or could be related to the topic. I originally typed, English
Springer Spaniel. In AquaBrowser black writing indicates words that are associated with the
topic. These associations included springer, novelist, alphabet, folk, author, bible, language,
Julia, cocker, song, literature, dictionary, poet, poetry, drama, and spaniel.

In orange are

spelling variants, these include Sprenger, Engllish, Spanier, and Espalier. Next, in green are
translations that listed englisch, Englnder, Anglais, and Ingls. Finally, in blue are discovery
trails. There were no words listed written in blue.

On the right of this page, was the book search that listed two of the five possible items. They
were listed by relevance. The word relevance could be changed by using a pull down menu
that would allow users to sort the items differently. The two books that were given were exactly
what I had wanted. They included all the information and specific details about each book. The
first called, English Springer Spaniel, was by Haja van Wessem. The call number was

Aberdeen Library

636.7524V, and was written in 2003. This book also included a link that would allow me to
place a hold on it provided I had an up-to-date library card. The second book listed was called,
Springer Spaniels by Nancy Furstinger. Below the authors name and the title was a general
overview of the book. It stated that this book, Contains an introduction to the dog breed
springer spaniel in simple text with illustrations describing their coat and color size behavior care
food and puppies (Harford County Public Library, 2008). The call number was J636.7524 F
and was published in 2006. I did not find AquaBrowser to be a preferable search program for me
personally. Although helpful and colorful, I prefer a more traditional search program. I do,
however, realize the benefits of this kind of program. This type of search would be helpful if you
were not sure of the topic, spelling, or content that you wanted. In this case, AquaBrowser is
probably an efficient search program.

While researching my topic, I saw a link that offered me a traditional search of Harford County
library books. This particular search page allowed you to change your search from title (begins
with), to author, or subject matter (Harford County Public Library, 2008). I kept the search at
title (begins with) and typed in English Springer Spaniel. This time the search listed all, or
any items related to my topic. Included in the results were the titles of the books, format, author,
and publication dates. It listed ten different items; one VHS tape, seven books, and two compact
discs. Of the items listed, only three were of relevance to my specific topic. All titles listed were
links to more specific information on each entry. I found this page much easier to navigate and
the listing of items gave me a larger selection of possible matches. Although very basic, this
search program suited my needs better than AquaBrowser.

Aberdeen Library

There were many other search programs, catalogues, and databases that I could have also used.
This includes a statewide system called Marina (Harford County Public Library, 2008). Marina
allows you to request material from other Maryland libraries as long as you have an up-to-date
library card. PowerCat and WorldCat were also listed as alternative databases (Harford
County Public Library, 2008). I also observed a link on the libraries main search catalogue page
that was dedicated to young children (Harford County Public Library, 2008). The kids
catalogue page included a search by any word, and three links that were shown as buttons. The
first button-link was labeled, Explore the Library, followed by Award Winners, and then
Online References. These were all said to be powered by DYNIX.

Signage and labels in the library were easy to read and understand. There were large brown and
white signs over specific areas. Each sign was written in the same font and letter size. The font
was large and legible, and could be easily read even for those without their glasses. Many of the
signs were hanging from the ceiling, while others where sitting on top of shelves. Upon each
short shelf, less than four feet tall, were smaller signs that listed even more specific information
about the items that were shelved below. All tall shelves, about six feet tall, were clearly labeled
on the ends or near the top with genre. and then either call numbers or letters of authors last
name. Among the video collections, were yet smaller labels that listed either the alphabetical
letter the title started with, or the subject that was shelved. In the audio collection, items were
listed by music genre, then alphabetically by letter of musicians last name, and then by musicians
full name. Computers around the room were clearly marked by number and some were labeled
by what database or browser they included. Individual rooms and offices were also clearly

Aberdeen Library

written and labeled with large fonts. Finally, there was a sign on the front doors that listed
branch and hours of operation. I thought the signs were adequate and easily read. I also
appreciated that they kept them all in the same color scheme and font. Special events and
activities were listed with colorful and multiple font signage. This enabled the visitor to easily
see any activities that did not usually occur at the branch.

I asked two of the librarians which classification scheme was used. One explained that they use
the Dewey Decimal System and not the Library of Congress. Printed materials were located in a
variety of areas, and audio and video items were separated throughout. In earlier paragraphs,
four through six, I listed the categories that separated books through out this library. In addition
looking at the map may also assist in the delineation of materials.

Internet Access and Fee-based Databases

This library provides internet access on all of its computers. In addition to Marina, PowerCat,
and WorldCat other databases could also be easily accessed. I found that Harford County
Libraries offer an inter-state library loan system. A master list of databases and search programs
was found on the What are Online Services and Resources? page (Harford County Public
Library, 2008). This page gave the user multiple links that were neatly listed. Other services
include, ask us now! a twenty-four hour/seven days a week information service provided by
librarians from all across the state of Maryland (Harford County Public Library, 2008). This
service was also offered in Spanish (Harford County Public Library, 2008). A similar service
was also offered by just Harford County librarians. The only difference between the two was

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wait time for response. Harford Countys offered a two day return email while the state link was

Still other links allowed users to enter the Marylands Digital Library Consortium, which allows
users to access a collection of downloadable eBooks (Harford County Public Library, 2008).
eBooks can only be downloaded using a home internet link to the libraries website. Some
eBooks were dedicated to help learners with test preparations for test like the ACT, SAT, and
GED. This collection was called, Learning Express Library (Harford County Public Library,
2008). Another program dedicated to school age children was called, Live Homework Help
which was powered by tutor.com (Harford County Public Library, 2008). This link gave
students access to homework help from two p.m. until midnight. It served grades four through

Book clubs were also offered online to patrons. These clubs worked in cooperation with
DearReader.com (Harford County Public Library, 2008). DearReader.com allows user to join
book clubs that cater toward specific genre or just varieties of books user may have read. The
Overdrive Audio Books link allowed readers to download audio books via eBooks, as well as
eAudiobooks (Harford County Public Library, 2008). You could also download full length
movies from this link. Finally, there is Sailor (Harford County Public Library, 2008). Sailor is a
statewide system that links Maryland residents to information resources and events such as
Maryland government, schools, and other public and academic libraries. As I ventured further in
the databases I came upon a lengthy list of additional online databases. These ranged from
Access Science to World Book (Harford County Public Library, 2008)

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There were also links just for Harford County residents (Harford County Public Library, 2008).
These included access to online resources, databases from home, ability to view accounts and
renew online. Email notification was also available to those who would like to reserve specific
books. Once books were reserved they were transferred to residents local library. An email
would be sent to patron that their hold was in. A community directory of Harford County
Government and a county resource guide could also be accessed from this page. Accesses to all
of the above listed programs are free and could be accessed from home as well as wherever
internet links are available through out the world.

As I observed visitors, I noticed some taking a piece of paper with a bar code on it. I questioned
the librarian and she stated that if patrons do not have a library card or are from out of town that
they can use a one-day pass to log into the computers at that facility. She indicated that because
of the Aberdeen Proving Ground and the frequent civilian contractors that many of the users
enlist the services of this library to email home or access other business needs.

I stumbled upon another web page that indicated that the county has developed a number of
special collections (Harford County Public Library, 2008). These can be used or accessed by
any library member. Many of the following collections are available online. These include
audio books, music, Maryland history, genealogy, oral history, large type, parent-teacher
collections, learning and sharing collections, juvenile historical, rolling reader, silver reader and
special collection websites.

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The special collection websites listed were Hurricane Victim Assistance and BRAC (Base
Realignment and Closure) (Harford County Public Library, 2008). This again supports the large
military population and future military members that will be moving to the Aberdeen area.

Patrons and Materials

I sat for about twenty minutes and observed patrons and the materials they selected or requested.
I saw three gentleman sitting and reading magazines. Another few patrons were reading books
that had been recently pulled. One visitor looked like she was college age, and was obviously
working on some type of required research project. She had multiple books, her own laptop, and
a spiral notebook. In the quiet room, a few people were writing some type of required school
papers. One was of high school age and another of college. As I walked around, I saw someone
accessing mapquest and others browsing video/DVDs. Two school age patrons were sharing a
math book and completing some type of algebra homework.

I then decided to plant myself next to the help desk. Luckily for me there were two catalogue
computers nearby. I positioned myself so that I could see what patrons were researching and still
listen to the questions being asked. I first observed a high school aged girl who was looking up
some type of nonfiction book. I did not catch the topic but saw that she quickly wrote down call
numbers and exited the program. As I sat there, I observed visitors looking up different items.
Some wrote down information, while others just exited and walked to what I assume was their
searched topic item. None seemed to have much difficulty finding whatever it was they were
searching for. I did, however, observe one patron who needed extra help. It was a man in his
early twenties that began looking for a movie using the search engine called Yahoo!. He was

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trying to find a title to a movie that had a specific actor in it. With little success he walked to the
help desk librarians and asked for their assistance. He mentioned someone named Bob Bear and
as the librarians searched she was able to find information on this actor. She asked if he was in a
movie with George Clooney and he said, Yes. She then wrote down the name of the movie
and directed him to the video collection. Another woman, in her fifties, came back to the help
desk to thank the librarians for helping her. She handed them a copy of Consumer Report
magazine and was obviously searching for some information on a purchase she was going to
make. A third person, a woman in her forties, asked the librarians for a book that was on hold
from another library. The librarian retrieved the item and was thanked for her help.

An elderly woman gave the librarians a piece of paper. I found out later that the paper was a list
comprised of books she had read for the libraries winter reading program. She was given a
square pad of sticky notes. After she left, I asked the librarians what the note pad was for. One
of the two librarians explained that each season a different reading program was put in place by
the county library system. This was gift for those who had read five or more books within the
three month duration of the program. I asked for more information and the librarians explained
that the county offers multiple reading incentives to certain age groups. They specifically target
teen and adult readers with different reading celebration programs. They also encourage
participants to come on a designated day to celebrate with other members who have successfully
completed the program. One was scheduled for the next week at the Aberdeen branch. I asked
the librarians at the help desk what specific types of materials were usually requested at this
branch. They stated that the most common requests were videos, DVDs, best sellers, and
Oprahs book club books.

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As I watched, I noticed that each of the two librarians kept making a mark on a piece of paper
taped down to their desk. I questioned them as to the purpose, and they explained that the library
keeps a tally on the type of questions and the material that is requested. It seems that this
information was probably very useful to the library systems so that the needs of patrons could be
addressed and identified. This would make keeping up with visitors needs easily traceable and
libraries could change their programs or collections to meet the needs of any particular branch.

Description of Patrons
The patrons of this branch were of varying ages, from young children to senior adults. Paragraph
two of this composition listed the breakdown of patrons. The ratio of male to female seemed to
be equal. As stated earlier, each library contains a unique age of clientele. This one specially
included teens and seniors. Teens can easily walk to the libraries location from the local middle
and high school. It is found two streets away, over a set of railroad tracks. The senior center is
located on the same street as the library, and is about five buildings away on the left. This easy
walking access may be the reason this branch is frequented by those two age categories.

Most patrons were dressed appropriately. Adults were dressed in pants or jeans, shirts, sweaters,
and coats. Teens were dressed in jeans or appropriate sweat outfits. All clothes seemed clean
and tidy. I did note that one patron who was smoking outside when I arrived and parked. After I
was inside, I found him behind the magazines, reading a magazine. He had his cell phone
plugged into an outlet, and his clothes appeared slightly tattered. Next to him was a bag. I
suspected he was homeless and keeping warm during the hours the library was open. I have seen

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him before at this branch. I walked closer to him and noticed that he was dressed in jeans,
flannel shirt, hat, cowboy boots, and a light jacket, none of which could be considered new.
Through out the day none of the library staff asked him to leave or to unplug his phone. They
seemed okay with his presence although it was longer than what a typical patron might stay.

I found a lot of wonderful resources both in the library and online. Some of the additional
information I learned was that computers can be reserved and used for an hour. If no one else
has signed up after that user then that hour is extended. There is also an automatic checkout
station for visitors. This was very helpful when checkout lines were long, or librarians need to
help patrons longer than normal. All you needed to do was scan your card, or key chain card,
place no more that four books on a lined desk-like table. You then had to wait for the computer
to list the items you have placed in the lined area. It then offered a button on the touch screen
that said, Next. It continues to list the next set of four items until all the items are listed.
Next, you click a button that says, Done and a receipt is printed with due dates for each
particular item.

An additional service is available for extended check out use either in the library or from their
website. Online you type in the last few digits of your library card and your phone number. You
then select the items due dates you wish to extend. It gives you a new due date and offers a
printed version of the information. Other services in the library included printers which are
linked to all computers. There is also a copy machine. Finally, all online access in the library is
also available at home.

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There are a myriad of services for parents and children. In the library childrens computers are
filtered or blocked. Other programs allow the library to limit information found. Parents and
teachers can also find a selection of text specifically devoted to education and learning. I
personally have used this area when tutoring elementary age students. Multiple in-branch
programs are offered to young patrons which include read longs, musical programs, story time
and historical visitors. Summer programs are offered to encourage reading and are staffed by
older children. A Rolling Reader is a vehicle that can be sent to different locations. It brings
library resources, and technology to after school programs targeting at-risk children in
kindergarten through eight grade. Volunteers are also sent to licensed preschools and care
centers throughout Harford county to offer library resources and programs. A learning and
sharing collection is located in the Bel Air branch. This program offers enhancement of reading
readiness skills, Cheer for Children, concepts kits, and Young Parenting Kits.

Computer classes are offered and times and locations are listed in the library newsletter or online
at the libraries Calendar of Events. Authors are often brought in to share their writing experience
and the books they have written. Some authors are of school aged books, others are adult book
authors. Still another program, called Silver Reader, includes a bus like vehicle that travels to
assisted living, long term care facilities, senior centers, and senior apartment locations
throughout Harford County to offer library resources.

This library is able to serve multiple ages and need of patrons. Librarians were helpful and kind
and were easily located when needed. I believe that although this library is small it offers a

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complete assortment of items to serve any need. I found its aesthetics to be comfortable, clean,
and usable. This library was not overly busy or crowded and patrons did not have to wait any
length of time for use of items. I have been to other libraries and consider this library to be
comparable to any library. Accessibility and use of materials was as should be expected form
any library managed by local government. The day I spent was informative and eye-opening.
Libraries today, including the Aberdeen branch, offer much more than an average users needs
and this was a delightful surprise.

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Harford County Public Library. (2008). Harford County Public Library. March 18, 2008,
from http://www.harf.lib.md.us/services/libraryservices.html