iPAC Leads Study on Strategies to Establish Independent State Library Agency

iPAC Leads Study on Strategies to Establish Independent State Library Agency

by Haemee Lee

A 2014 iSchool study on state library agencies conducted by Dr. John Carlo Bertot and iSchool alumna Kimberly White was integral in the establishment of the Maryland State Library Agency and the Maryland State Library Board in a law recently passed by the Maryland General Assembly.

Dr. Bertot, Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs and also Professor and co-director of the Information Policy & Access Center (iPAC), and Ms. White, then an MLIS student and now a librarian at the DC Public Library, conducted a study on state library agencies on behalf of the Maryland Advisory Council on Libraries. The study focused on the agencies’ structures, funding, and various characteristics using nationally available data from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) as well as interviews with leadership teams in several state library agencies. The study intended to inform the library community about a possible set of strategies to create an independent state library agency rather than a division within the State Department of Education, as currently structured. And, this effort was successful. “I see this as good news for libraries throughout the state. It’s never been a happy marriage between Education and Libraries. Personally, it’s exciting to have had iPAC been a small part of this,” said Dr. Bertot.

“The study made a huge difference in the perception of what a true state library agency can accomplish,” said Irene Padilla, the Assistant State Superintendent of Libraries at the Maryland State Department of Education. Effective July 1, 2017, the bill also transfers the duties and responsibilities of the Division of Library Development and Services in the Maryland State Department of Education to the State Library Agency. In addition, the Maryland State Library Agency is the central State Library Agency with the State Librarian as the head of the State Library Agency and will be funded by the state annually.

The State Library Agency will continue to administer State and Federal funds to support Maryland libraries in their mission to offer outstanding resources, programs, and excellent customer service. Responsibilities include oversight of: the Maryland State Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Maryland’s Public Libraries, the State Library Network, the Library Capital Grants Programs, and the Deaf Culture Digital Library. Legislative documents available: http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/webmga/frmMain.aspx?id=sb0587&stab=01&pid=bil...