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$27,000 for new dragon maze at Towson Library

dragon mazeMany of my friends have commented on how inconvenient the Towson Library’s book drop is, especially if you have small kids that you don’t want to take out of the car just to return a book. I had written to the library a few years ago asking about it and was told this was a popular request but that a new book drop would be a project for the Friends of the Towson Library, a private fundraising group for the library.

So I was a little shocked when I learned that the Friends of Towson Library spent $27,000 on the new mural that is next to the book drop. I wrote and asked Arthur Lynch, head of the Friends group, and Jennifer Haire, the library manager, why this was made a priority over a book drop. Here are the answers:

Hi Kris,

Thanks for the email. The library has long sought a practical and more accessible book drop. I think everyone agrees the present setup is far from ideal. Suggestions are always welcome.

The library’s faux fish pond had deteriorated badly over the years, We decided to start over with a Dragon Maze design using newer materials to better withstand the weather. New seating will also be coming in the spring.

Good to hear from you.


and from the library …

Hello Kris,

I am happy to address your question here and to call you if you would like more information. I understand your interest and concern.

The book drop question is a real challenge. When the library system constructed these book drops, to add convenience for library users, that location was the only one at the Towson Library that offered the accessible space required to build an enclosure large enough to handle the volume of materials we receive. We empty book drops several times daily while we are open, to clear customer records quickly, and we construct them so that they can accommodate the volume returned during closed hours and holidays.

I’ll try to offer a quick overview here of the considerations involved in this seemingly simple operation: If we placed a ‘book bin’ somewhere outside, or in the Revenue Authority’s garage, more accessible to users, it would require frequent emptying, including during times when the library is closed…..cost prohibitive to pay staff, and not as secure for materials still ‘attached’ to borrowers’ records. Vandalism to expensive materials in book drops is not uncommon, so secured space is preferable.Ideally we’d like to see a drive up option in the garage, on our Level 3, that provides a large enough space for dropping items into a receptacle built into or near our garage entrance walls. It would require engineering expertise for planning, including addressing traffic flow/safety issues in that part of the Revenue Authority’s garage. Before the current book drop was constructed, these were the factors that contributed to the choice made to use that ground floor location.

The library had the opportunity to be closely involved in the (UDAT) Urban Design AssistanceTeam project in Towson, starting in 2006, and also in the follow up work done by Tomorrow’s Towson, Inc. ( The choice to create the dragon maze and adjacent reading garden aligned nicely with the community’s goals to create more green space and family destinations in the Towson core.

I hope this completely answers your questions. I don’t know what your timeline is for writing your article, but if you would like to discuss this further, I can be reached at 410-XXX-XXXX. I am away from the library until Tuesday afternoon, 1PM, but will have my cell phone to answer or return a call.

Best regards,

Jennifer C. Haire
Towson Library Manager

I actually think Ms. Haire raises good points. Anyone have a brilliant idea of how to solve these logistical problems? (I still think $27K sounds like a lot of money, though! But at least it was paid with private funds.)

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I can understand the logistical problems but couldn’t you have a more convenient drop box that is only available during library hours and locked during the off hours? At least during the day, if you have a child with you, you wouldn’t need to get out of the car.