Let me give you some success stories as examples—I’ll outline the transformation in Howard County. I’ll outline the transformation in Howard County. Arrived over six years ago – we were a common library with common library lingo. Began implementing a vision that would align us with education. Started A+ Partners in Education – a comprehensive, partnership with HCPSS that brought the library into the schools and the schools into the Library – every student receives a library card through registration. REASON: Because it was a good idea, AND, because it began aligning us with the definition of education the community understood. Began expanding the concept – continuing education for all ages – infants through pre-k, adults, older adults, -- self directed education, describing ourselves as a cornerstone in the education process, a pillar of education, a major component of our county’s strong educational system, a partner in education. We won “educator of the year” (over principals and teachers), serve on the county’s education committees, were invited –and given equal time--to brief the new county council on Education in the county, along with HCPSS and HCC. Similarly, the new County Executive’s education subcommittee – along with HCPSS and HCC—1.5 hours to outline all that we contribute to education. Just last month, I received an email that we have been moved from community services to the education part of the budget – along with HCPSS and HCC To give you a sense of the effectiveness of words that work, here are sample results at Howard County (population 275,000) Library since we began our quest to transform our image and enhance our value in 2001. By positioning the Library as a major component of Howard County’s strong educational system and by incorporating value-enhanced terminology that people understand: Visits have soared 178 percent (934,000 in FY 01, compared to more than 2.6 million in FY 08 ) Items borrowed have increased 57 percent (3.6 million in FY 01, compared to over 5.6 million in FY 08 ) Operating budget increases have reached record levels (e.g., a 68 percent increase in seven years, with no new branches; last year the increase bolstered salaries by 10.5 percent) Capital budget increases have surged as well (an additional planned 142,000 square feet of library building space where before it was zero) Friends of Howard County Library budget has increased more than 500 percent Hours of operation expanded by 37 hours/week, including year-round Sunday hours at our two largest branches Awarded Howard County Educator of the Year (Library educators included in the pool of candidates, along with teachers, faculty members, and principals, a direct result of calling ourselves educators) Awarded Howard County Non-Profit Business of the Year Moved from the Community Services section of the County's budget into the Education section Howard County Library now ranks first in the nation among the great public library systems (HAPLR, American Libraries , November 2008).
Friends of Howard County Library Annual Meeting Valerie J. Gross Howard County Library, CEO May 13, 2010
“ The education system comprised of our local schools, community college and library is one of our County’s greatest strengths. Maintaining the excellence of these educational institutions is of highest priority .”
(Proposed Operating Budget, Fiscal Year 2010, April 20, 2009)
For this honor, we credit the unsurpassed support of County Executive, County Council, Library Board of Trustees, Friends of Howard County Library , philanthropic partners, volunteers, dynamic community, and our creative, dedicated staff members who continue to raise the bar for excellence.