The age old motto of the library - "Quiet Please" - has become a thing of the past at the public library here.
In the afternoons, the basement rocks with the sound of a record player as teen-agers get together after school. In the reading room which also doubles as a dancing room, youngsters talk or play monopoly as much as they read.
The library in this Anne Arundel County Community also has pool table and a table tennis table. In addition to books, it will loan out tennis rackets, baseball bats, frisbees or basketballs to anyone with a library card.
There was a time when a library, as the dictionary describes it, was simply a place "given over to books, manuscripts, musical scores or other literary and sometimes artistic materials kept in some convenient order . . ."
But in Brooklyn Park, says Eileen Woodworth, "we've tried to make our library a part of the community, tried to meet its needs."
"When I came here as librarian (in the fall of 1975) I had the feeling that the library wasn't meeting the needs of the youngters in the community," Woodworth said. "The library's built on a 10-acre-park and I saw no reason not to try and use the facilities we had available."
So, using the pool table and table tennis table, donated by the local Jaycees, and athletic equipment acquired from the Anne Arundel County Recreation Department, Woodworth swung into action.
Now, according to Will Kogler, 14, the president of the library's Youth Volunteer Services program, the library "is the place we all like to hang out."
At first the kids were allowed to borrow equipment just by asking and they could play anywhere on the grounds. But experience taught Woodworth that some rules are necessary.
"We've had our share of equipment that hasn't come back," Woodworth said. "We had to stop giving them footballs because one boy broke his collarbone, and we've also had a lot of equipment damaged and destroyed. I guess we've had our share of windows too."
Broken windows at the Brooklyn Park library are not a minor thing. The building, which opened in 1971, is a modern U-shaped structure with high ceilings and large picture windows.
Despite occasional financial setbacks brought on by the program, Edward B. Hall, administrator for the Annapolis-Anne Arundel County library systems, has supported the concept fromthe start.
"There have been people against this," he said. "Some complain that the library is too noisy because of all the kids. Well, I'm not that concerned if we have a noisy libary. I don't want the library just to be a research center. We have the ability to do more than that."
"We lure them in with a Project like dancing or listening to records and then tell them we're going to read to them first," Woodworth said. "We like to offer the kids a lot of variety, but we try and encourage their reading too."
During the summer Woodworth has planned activities each with a weekly theme. Bicycle week will concentrate not only on riding, but on repair and bicycle safety. Foot week will be for dancing. There will also be a summer reading program.
Hall thinks the success of the program will spread elsewhere, especially at libraries where there are recreation facilities nearby. So the sight of children playing Monopoly in a library may not be an uncommon one in the future.
"The whole point of this is that there's more to learning than just reading," Woodworth said. "I think games and playing are an important part of learning for children. The kids need more than a place to get warm during the winter and cool during the summer."
Woodworth's library has over 25000 hard-backed books and several thousand paperbacks. In all, the Annapolis-Anne Arundel county library system has over 580,000 books. While Woodworth does not claim that the program as produced more readers, she does think it has had a positive effect.
"I think the kids are more aware of the library now, they know it's here and they appreciate it," she said. "Our paperback circulation has increased tremendously, and that's an indication that the kids are reading."
Wwoodworth's staff has been completely revamped since she first took over in 1975, partly because some did go along with her unorthodox ideas.
But now everyone involved - while conceding that 50 screaming kids might not be the ideal for a library reading room - seem enthusiastic about the project.
"All this makes the library a good place to come," said Joe Botteon, II. "You can blow off some steam here."