Howard County Library System
Howard County Library System Building Projects: Miller Branch

ground breaking ceremony for new charles e miller branchProject: New Howard County Library System, Charles E. Miller Branch and Historical Center
Location: Immediately west of the existing branch
Architects: Grimm + Parker Architects
Project Management Team: Regan Associates
Site Contractor: Percontee, Inc.
Building Contractor: Morgan-Keller Construction
Dates: Groundbreaking was February 22, 2010. Building opened December 17, 2011. Grand opening details.

The Howard County Library System Facilities Assessment and Master Plan: 2005-2030 outlines the need for 142,000 additional square feet of library building space. The additional space will increase Howard County Library System's (HCLS) systemwide square footage from its present 0.62 square feet of space per capita to the national standard of one square foot of space per capita.

The first and most pressing project, the new HCLS Charles E. Miller Branch and Historical Center, replaced the current Miller Branch. At 63,000 square feet, the new branch will nearly triple the size of the existing, obsolete building.

VISION. The vision for the new Miller Branch & Historical Center takes into consideration the branch’s historical roots. Of HCLS’ six branches, the Miller Branch is located in the County seat and was the first to be built. The new building includes a Howard County/Maryland Reading and Research Room. The Charles E. Miller Branch & Historical Center is a modern, two-story building. It reflects historic Ellicott City through components such as the stone bridge, which connects the front of the building to the back and also symbolically connects the past to the present and the future.

MISSION. The new HCLS Miller Branch strengthens the three pillars of HCLS' educational mission and curriculum. For the:
  • Self-Directed Education pillar, ample space is allocated for books, materials and computers in the Children's, Teen and Adult collection areas. Quiet study rooms on both floors allow customers to focus on their work without distraction.
  • Research Assistance & Instruction pillar, the new building includes a computer lab, group study rooms, a children's classroom, and a bank of meeting rooms which can be configured to host groups from 10 to 300. Research and Customer Service desks have been located so as to optimize sightlines and deliver exceptional customer service.
  • Instructive & Enlightening Experiences pillar, the building is a teaching tool in its own right with changing exhibits and characteristics reminiscent of historic Ellicott City. The Children's area features wall murals and whimsical sculptures to engage the youngest learners. An outside terrace on the second floor allows customers to read and work outdoors while enjoying the view across the vegetative roof to the meandering stream and pasture beyond.
GOLD LEED CERTIFICATION. Designed to capture the benefits of natural lighting, to maximize energy efficiency, and to achieve LEED Gold Certification, the Miller Branch serves as a model for buildings for years to come.

HISTORY. Partnering with the Howard County Historical Society and other historic organizations, the Historical Center vision brings history to life through research opportunities, classes, seminars, and events that focus on Howard County and Maryland history. The Charles E. Miller Branch & Historical Center is the hub for historical research in Howard County and central Maryland.

HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION. A new component to the branch is the Enchanted Garden, a sustainable, community-based teaching garden that focuses on health, nutrition, and environmental education.

COMMUNITY MEETINGS. The community was invited to numerous presentations to learn about the evolving vision for the new Charles E. Miller Branch & Historical Center, contributing ideas and providing feedback. Project Manager Sean Regan of Regan Associates, LLC, and lead architect Melanie Hennigan of Grimm + Parker Architects presented the design progress for the new building. 

FUNDING. The building was funded by Howard County Government. Additional funding provided by the County Library Capital Grants Program, Maryland State Department of Education, Division of Library Development and Services.
Future Plans