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A Long History Supporting Maryland Libraries

The law establishing public libraries in Maryland was enacted in 1902. The Office of Public Libraries was established under the State Board of Education in 1935. The Maryland State Library began as the Division of Library Extension (DLE) in 1946 and the DLE operated under the State Board of Education from 1947 to 1971.

In 1968, the agency was reorganized and renamed the Division of Library Development and Services (DLDS) of the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE). DLDS was the State Library Agency in Maryland. The Division’s responsibilities are to administer the state and federal funds that support development and management of library services in public schools and libraries across the state and to operate the Maryland State Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (LBPH).

By state statute, DLDS is currently organized into two branches: the Maryland State Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (LBPH) and the Public Libraries and State Networking Branch (PLSNB). In 1968, DLDS established the Office of School Libraries and Instructional Materials Services. This office was designated a third branch of the Division in 1978, called the School Library Media Services Branch. In 1987, it was renamed the School Library Media Services and State Media Services Branch. This branch remained a part of DLDS until 1995, when it joined the MSDE Division of Instruction and Staff Development.

In 2017, the Maryland General Assembly passed a law that established the Maryland State Library (MSL) and the Maryland State Library Board (MSLB) while simultaneously transferring the duties and responsibilities of the Division of Library Development and Services in MSDE to the State Library Agency. This legislation also provided for transferring the duties and responsibilities of the State Board of Education pertaining to libraries to the State Library Board, providing that the Maryland State Library is the central State Library Agency, and also providing that the head of the State Library Agency is the State Librarian, providing for the appointment, term, qualifications, and salary of the State Librarian and authorizing the State Library Agency to employ certain individuals.

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.