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About Maryland Public Libraries

The state of Maryland has 24 public library systems, representing the 23 counties and Baltimore City.

Generally, a Board of Trustees governs each county public library. Each Board of Library Trustees may establish and operate the library to provide free services to residents of the county in which it is located; and may permit persons outside the county to use the library facilities on the terms and conditions it determines; may establish and operate libraries at any location in the county; determine the library policies; and adopt reasonable rules, regulations, and bylaws for library use and the conduct of its business. The board may also advise in the preparation and approval of the library budget, receive, account for, control, and supervise, under the rules and regulations of the county governing body, the spending of all public funds received by the library, and use the services of the fiscal agencies of the county governing body.

[Image: Group of people working together in a library. ]  


According to an independent national survey by the P ew Research Center conducted in 2016 , “most Americans view public libraries as important parts of their communities, with a majority reporting that libraries have the resources they need and play at least some role in helping them decide what information they can trust.” Maryland’s public libraries are aligned with this viewpoint and role, as a place for collegial learning and community engagement. They continue to be among the best in the nation, ranking near the top in most measures of library effectiveness. In the fiscal year 2016, Maryland residents borrowed a total of 70.8 million items which is 11.9 library items per capita, up from 10.2 in fiscal year 2014. In FY14, the national average was 7.5%. About 60% of the state’s residents are registered borrowers at one or more library systems, and 100% of the public library systems in the state provide free WiFi access to the internet. Every library also has dedicated internet computers for customers to use. More than half of the branch libraries have ADA-compliant workstations that include electronically operated tables, computers with screen reader software, screen enlarger software, accessible keyboards, 27-inch monitors, and a CCTV with OCR reader.

Maryland residents are eligible to borrow from any public library in the state without paying a registration fee and thus may use multiple library locations to meet their information and reading needs.


Laws and regulations regarding the establishment and operation of public libraries as established by the Maryland Department of Education, the Maryland State Library: 2016 ed




Provided by both state and collective library funding, SAILOR provides free educational, academic, and Internet resources across the state of Maryland.