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Howard County Library System Named 2013 Library of the Year

The library system was given the award for its work educating area residents.

The Howard County Library System was chosen as the 2013 Library of the Year by Library Journal and Gale, a subsidiary of Cengage Learning.

The award goes to one of the 21,000 public and academic libraries in the United States, Canada and Mexico. It is given to the library that "most profoundly demonstrates creativity, leadership and innovation in developing signature events and initiatives" according to a Cengage press release.

The publisher of Library Journal, Ian Singer, said that with "a strong foucs on education for all, HCLS has truly become a staple in local residents' lives and for that we're excited to present them with the 2013 Library of the Year Award."

The library system has established itself in the fabric of the community, with 90 percent of residents having a library card. In the past decade, items borrowed from the library have doubled to 7.1 million and physical visits to the library have tripled to 3 million, according to statistics provided by Cengage.

Stand out programs recognized by the organizers of the award include providing every student with a library card; developing the Escape from Detention! app; working on an enchanted garden that showcases a rain garden and composting; as well as HCLS Project Literacy—an initiative that taught basic English to 6,500 adults.

"We express our deepest gratitude to Gale and Library Journal for this esteemed award," said Valerie J. Gross, president and CEO of HCLS, in a statement. "Above all, the credit goes to our extraordinary staff members... and the visionary HCLS Board of Trustees."

The Howard County Library System will be featured in a cover story in the June 15 issue of Library Journal. The article can also be found on Library Journal's website.

The article expands on programs like the now ubiquitous "Choose Civility" campaign, the president's move to make education the focus of the libraries, and making customer service a hallmark of the library experience.

"Positioning HCLS as a core, integrated institution in Howard County education has not only solidified and strengthened the place of HCLS in the county, it has made it a permanently crucial county institution," wrote the article's author, John N. Berry III.

HCLS is a network of libraries located throughout the county. The newest addition to the library system was the $29 million Miller Branch in Ellicott City, which opened in December of 2011 and features a collection of more than 242,000 items.

Library Journal was founded in 1876 and is read by over 75,000 workers in the library field. Gale is a publisher of research and reference resources for libraries, schools and businesses.

The 2013 Library of the Year Award will be presented at the American Library Association Annual Conference in Chicago on June 30.

Ann Delacy June 06, 2013 at 07:31 PM
I love our library system! A group of us, who have since become good friends, play pinochle at the Senior Center in the East Columbia Library on Monday's and Friday's. The staff members are friendly, caring and extremely efficient. Sometimes, when the library is closed, they open the Center just for us. Many thanks and congratulations times one million!
Winston June 06, 2013 at 09:18 PM
I love the HCL. I just about live in the Ellicott City branch. If you're looking for me, start there. I'll be at one of the 100 computers.
Truthful June 06, 2013 at 09:49 PM
When you the award giver says that the numbers mean 90% of the pop has a library card is where the issue may have come from. When they know that the percentage of people using the library is much much much less than what they are touting. I home schooled my son and we watched the same people & families come in time after time and take multiple items. I'm sure this really skewed the numbers. But I'm sure this happens in every community. I understand what HR is saying. They just couldn't leave it as is, it seems like any of these "award" type things tend to hype it up a whole bunch. The exageration by the county is annoying!
Jack June 07, 2013 at 05:16 AM
What I found interesting about the HCLS is the number of children who have to come there to use the internet. Many of these children are less fortunate. We need more involvement in their lives such as a bus from our schools to the libraries. For a child who can walk across the parking lot from Glenwood middle there is opportunity but for a child who lives miles away and no transportation we see a struggle. The days of print may well be numbered but lack of access to technology in today's world is the same as illiteracy.
Truthful June 07, 2013 at 12:07 PM
The vast majority of the supposed "less fortunate" in this county live within walking distance and or public transportation, of a library. And many of those supposed "less fortunate" that come to the library to use the internet, are their looking at dating sites and social networks. I can tell you that first hand. They almost always have some type of smart phone and such, but they go to the library to sit as long as they want. For years and sat and watched this at the Main Library. Now I did see quite a few adults using the internet.

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