Turntable, Vinyl help................please

Okay, after a 20 yr. absence from vinyl, I have decided to break out my record collection which consists of about 500
albums. I have not listened to these in 20 yrs! I am purchasing a Music Hall MMF-5 turntable which will cost approx. $600.00 after shipping. Please feel free to let me know if you think this is a good or bad decision based upon your experience w/a turntable. My question is this: Some of my albums were purchased used, which contain a fair amount of scratches on the album. If I play these on a new turntable, will this cause damage to the needle?
20 yrs. ago, I had a Pioneer turntable and didn't really worry about these things. Thank you all very much for your input and help with this issue.
P.S. Feel free to give me any insight on any other turntable issue you may think is important for me to know.
Thanks again.
The Music Hall is a good table and I think you will be pleased. The scratches on your records will not hurt anything except the sound.

One thing, though...do you have a phonoamp or phono input on your amplifier? These days (versus 20 years ago), most new systems don't include the amplification and RIAA equalization stage for vinyl and if that is the case for you a phonoamp will be an additional expense.
I have updated everything but the turntable. I have a musical Fidelity A308 with a phono input. Thank you Smokester!
I tend to think you should aim higher. A very reasonable and wonderful table are those made by Rega. As good as the table is, the included arm is even better than the table. If you do get Rega, get back to me and I'll tell you those little secrets to bring it close to the "big boys".
At this point, clean records are the next thing to focus on. As Lugnut pointed out, a vauum-based machine would be great. If the cost bothers you, you can start doing them by hand w/disc doctor brushes. I highly recommend the Audio Intelligent Vinyl Solutions fluids. Buy a new dish rack at Target for $1.99, and a couple nice cotton bath towels to cover your table, and you're set. Clean the LPs w/the fluid and brushes, air dry in the dish rack. Put the clean LPs directly into new sleeves. Check the archives, there's tons of posts on details of cleaning regimens. Cheers,
Used Rega 25 is a good value......a new Scheu Cello is about a grand with a rega arm inc shipping..fine table/arm combo...

for 500 used I'd be looking at Thorens TD160 Supers and things like that