An overview of community reactions and what the future holds for the facility
On Sept. 8, the Silver Spring community celebrated the grand opening of the newly renovated Wheaton Library. The facility, a combination of a library and recreation center, is the first of its kind in Montgomery County and the surrounding community couldn’t be happier.
Fully fitted with a basketball court, game room, second-floor walking track, exercise room, book store and study rooms, the Wheaton library and recreational center has something for people of all ages.
It is important to note that the two halves of the center—recreation and library—are managed by different groups. The recreation center is managed by Montgomery County Recreation, while the library falls under Montgomery County Public Libraries. “The idea is to figure out how we can work together to create a facility that will work for all of our customers,” library branch manager Dianne Whitaker states.
Whitaker joined the project in 2011 when the planning committee first decided that the county and community could use a combined recreation and literary center. She has overseen the development of the new building from the initial design to what it looks like today.
Addressing the community's needs was a priority while the facility was under development. “When we were planning this, we looked at the needs of the community: we looked at the need for classroom space and the need for meeting place,” Whitaker says.
From the modern yellow and orange exterior to the large, airy interior, the new community center stands tall and strong at the corner of Arcola and Georgia Avenue in Silver Spring. “What we ended up getting was a very light and bright building, but it's also getting a huge response from the community with a lot of use,” Whitaker says.
The library's opening brought the community together in astounding numbers and continues to attract people to its amenities. “Opening day was fabulous. We had between two and three thousand people enter the building within three hours on our first day, and every day since every study room has been booked by both teens and adults,” Whitaker describes. Turnout has been so good that the library has barely been able to keep up with the requests for library cards.
“The energy from the staff has been very good, very positive. The librarians are pretty engaged and continually making an effort to serve the community,” Whitaker continues. With the powerful response from the community, there’s always someone to help find a good book or assist with work.
The center hopes to become even more integral to the community students by offering service opportunities. “We want to increase the support we have for younger students by engaging teens in volunteer activities such as homework clubs,” Whitaker explains.
On the whole, the center looks to offer programs—art class, coding clubs for middle school students and film classes— to further fill its numerous activity rooms. The possibilities for the center to continue developing are endless thanks to the fully-equipped, modern space.
For now, it is a haven for many students after school. “As soon as kids are done playing, they come into the library and begin studying. People can spend a good part of their after school time here,” Whitaker says, looking out her office window to the students flowing in and out of the library doors.
The new Wheaton Library and Recreation Center is filled with fun and educational opportunities for everyone, and is the perfect place to work, read or spend time after school.
Rajit Mukhopadhyay. Hey, this is Rajit. As a Blair junior you can often find me playing tennis, hanging out with friends, or in the 240s hallway traffic jam. More »