It was just another appointment to another of the long list of boards and agencies in Prince George's County. Or so it seemed.

Then the county council started asking hard questions of Arthur Samuel Kirschenbaum, who was renominated by the county executive for a five-year term on the board of library trustees.

"Mr. Kirschenbaum, what do you think of requiring a library card applicant to supply his or her social security number and other significant data in order to obtain a card?" asked council chairman William B. Amonett.

"Mr. Kirschenbaum, do you feel the current library programs of lending art works, movies, toys and games constitute valid library usage?" asked council member Samuel W. Bogley.

"Mr. Kirschenbaum, faced with closing libraries or reducing hours or reducing other services, which would you prefer? asked another member.

Kirschenbaum, a Bowie resident, four-year veteran of the library and mamner of the Maryland Library Association, American Library Association, American Library Trustee Association and Freedom to Read Foundation, and a Republican, attempted to respond to the council's questions but said he "really thought it very strange" that they pressed him so hard about his views.

"Perhaps there was a misunderstanding," he said. "Because philosophically our views are much the same.

But the council was having none of it. They took a vote to approve the nomination and were deadlocked - five to five. Then they took vote to reject the nomination - also a five-to-five deadlock.

Mr. Kirschenbaum, it seemed, was caught in that old trap - being in the right place at the wrong time. Kirschenbaum's reappointment came right after heavy debate last month over the library budget. And several members did not like the heat they had had to take from citizens' groups over possible library closings.

"We have been put on the spot several times by them (the library board)," said council member David G. Hartlove Jr., who voted against the reappointment. "I know this is only one member of the board, but this is the only time we ever get to see them."

Council member Francis B. Francois took an opposing view. "We want to be careful the county doesn't take out the first one who comes before us."

Council member Gerard T. McDonough turned out to be the tie-breaker and, much to Kirschenbaum's wonder, voted against him.

"It's not a reflection on the nominee; to my knowledge he's done a fine job. But as far as the library budget situation goes, for at least the new few appointments, it's going to be this way."