The first libraries in Maryland were organized by Thomas Bray (1656-1730) in 1695 as parochial libraries for the Anglican Church; laymen's libraries intended as lending libraries for the public at large; and non-circulating libraries.
Albin O. Kuhn Library, University of Maryland Baltimore County, Catonsville, Maryland, May 2019. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.
Maryland has twenty-four public library systems, one in each county and Baltimore City. Information and materials found through the Maryland State Library Network may be mailed, trucked, or transferred electronically to each of these local libraries. At 190 branches, more than 5,600 internet terminals were available in FY2021.
From any public library in the State, Maryland residents may register and borrow materials. In Fiscal Year 2021, more than 3.3 million Marylanders (about 56%) held library cards. In that time, more than 57 million items were checked out during over 17 million visits to public libraries.
Brooklyn Park Community Library, Anne Arundel County Department of Libraries, 1 East 11th Ave., Brooklyn Park, Maryland, August 2010. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.
In Fiscal Year 2021, the combined collection of Maryland's public libraries totaled over 19.1 million items, of which, more than 9.7 million were books and some 4.2 million others were E-books or other resources. Employed by public libraries in Fiscal Year 2021 were 3,306 paid staff of whom 712 were professional librarians. Also in Fiscal Year 2021, 21 bookmobiles were in use throughout Maryland.
Bowie Branch Library, Prince George's County Memorial Library System, 15210 Annapolis Road, Bowie, Maryland, September 2017. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.
In 1902, the State Library Commission was authorized to develop public libraries throughout Maryland (Chapter 47, Acts of 1902), and, in 1905, the first bookmobile in the nation started as a horse-drawn wagon in Washington County, Maryland. The State Library Commission's responsibilities were assigned to the Office of Public Libraries under the State Board of Education in 1935. Later, the Division of Library Services of the State Department of Education oversaw public libraries in Maryland. Today that responsibility falls to the Maryland State Library Agency.
Lewis J. Orts Library, Frostburg State University, Frostburg, Maryland, October 2014. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.
Increasingly, electronic access to catalogs and the Internet has made computers an integral part of Maryland library systems. Wireless access is available at every public library branch throughout the State. Patrons may identify and locate library materials by searching catalogs linked to Sailor, an online public information network. Sailor connects Marylanders and their libraries to resources within the State and worldwide, providing access to the Internet and to e-mail. Sailor is available free through every public library, and via modem-equipped computers from homes, schools, and offices.
Light Street Branch, Enoch Pratt Free Library, 1251 Light St., Baltimore, Maryland, June 2006. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.
In Baltimore, the Enoch Pratt Free Library opened in January 1886. It was a gift to the City from Enoch Pratt (1808-1896), a remarkable businessman and philanthropist.
Based at the Enoch Pratt Free Library, the Maryland State Library Network serves more than 400 libraries throughout the State, primarily through interlibrary loan of materials and information.
Enoch Pratt Free Library, 400 Cathedral St., Baltimore, Maryland, October 2007. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.
The Maryland State Library Network consists of the State Library Resource Center (Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore); 3 regional library resource centers (Eastern Shore, Southern Maryland, Western Maryland); 4 academic libraries lending specialized materials; and more than 125 libraries that fill interlibrary loan requests from their collections.
Pocomoke City Branch, Worcester County Library, 301 Market St., Pocomoke City, Maryland, June 2018. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.
As the regional depository for Maryland, Delaware, and the District of Columbia, McKeldin Library at the University of Maryland, College Park, receives all U.S. government publications designated for deposit.
Library, Delaplaine Arts Center, 40 South Carroll St., Frederick, Maryland, August 2018. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.
Libraries of Note: Enoch Pratt Free Library, The Johns Hopkins University Libraries (including the George Peabody Library), Maryland State Library for the Blind and Print Disabled, Space Telescope Science Institute Library (NASA), Health Sciences & Human Services Library, University of Maryland School of Medicine, and Thurgood Marshall Law Library, University of Maryland School of Law, Baltimore; Thurgood Marshall State Law Library, and Nimitz Library of the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis; National Library of Medicine, Bethesda; University System of Maryland Libraries; National Agricultural Library, Beltsville; National Institute of Standards and Technology Standards Research Library, Gaithersburg; National Criminal Justice Reference
Service of the National Institute of Justice, Rockville; Library of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Silver Spring; and U.S. Bureau of the Census Library, Suitland.
George Peabody Library, East Mount Vernon Place, Baltimore, Maryland, September 2010. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.
Health Sciences & Human Services Library, University of Maryland School of Medicine, 601 West Lombard St., Baltimore, Maryland, December 2000. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.
Maryland State Library Annual Report
Maryland Public Library Statistics
Search the Manual
© Copyright November 10, 2022 Maryland State Archives