Howard County Library System
HCLS Accolades

Howard County Library System (HCLS) is proud to be a nationally recognized leader among the great public libraries that delivers high-quality public education for all ages.

Howard County Library System's Evening in the Stacks.

This short Comcast Newsmakers video includes interviews with Howard County Library System's President Valerie Gross and Director of Public Relations Christie Lassen, HCLS Board member Stacie Hunt, community leaders, bestselling author Chris Bohjalian, and numerous elected officials. A recording setting 650 guests attended.

The clip not only captures the fun at Evening in the Stacks: Vintage Vegas on February 22, 2014, but also the powerful “libraries = education” vision.

HCLS’ annual fundraiser and "THE best party in town," Evening in the Stacks features a different theme each year. Proceeds supplement HCLS' signature initiatives, including A+ Partners in Education, a comprehensive partnership among Howard County Library System, Howard County Public School System, and Howard Community College. The gala also benefits the Friends of HCLS.

To view this video, please click here.

HCLS Honored as Five Star Library

For the third consecutive year, HCLS was designated a national "Star" library system by Library Journal for delivering excellence in public education for all. HCLS again earned the highest five-star ranking attained by fewer than one percent of public libraries in the U.S., and the only library system in Maryland to do so.

"This honor reflects the quality curriculum our innovative team delivers for students of all ages in the areas of Self-Directed Education, Research Assistance & Instruction, and Instructive & Enlightening Experiences,” said Valerie J. Gross, HCLS President & CEO. "We express our profound gratitude to Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, the Howard County Council, Maryland State Legislators, Friends of Howard County Library, our philanthropic partners and volunteers, and the entire community for their enthusiastic support.”

HCLS concluded the 2013 fiscal year with record-setting statistics. In addition to borrowing 7.4 million items, customers visited HCLS’ six branches 3.2 million times, for a 14 percent increase over the previous year. Attendance at HCLS classes and events broke the quarter of a million mark, while research assistance interactions totaled nearly two million, for an eight percent increase over the previous year.

HCLS is Named Top Innovator by Urban Libraries Council

The Urban Libraries Council (ULC), a membership association of leading public libraries in the U.S. and Canada, has named Howard County Library System (HCLS) a "2013 Top Innovator." Recognized on June 28, 2013 at ULC's Annual Forum in Chicago, HCLS was honored in the award's Learning category for HiTech, HCLS' unique STEM digital media initiative for teens.

HiTech delivers science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education via project-based classes that include computer programming, nanotechnology, music/video, e-books, game apps, 3D animation, cybersecurity, and robotics. "A 21st century library system delivering 21st century public education, HCLS' HiTech initiative exemplifies our team's commitment to incorporating dynamic, cutting-edge teaching and methodologies into our curriculum," remarked HCLS President & CEO Valerie J. Gross.

In announcing the 2013 Top Innovators, ULC President and CEO Susan Benton said, "On behalf of the ULC community throughout North America, I congratulate Howard County Library System for being selected as a 2013 Top Innovator. HCLS staff are commended for setting the pace for growth, change and innovation in the field."

HCLS is Named 2013 Library of the Year by Gale and Library Journal

Library Journal CoverGale, part of Cengage Learning and a leading publisher of research resources for libraries, schools and businesses, and Library Journal magazine announced on June 5, 2013 that Howard County Library System in Columbia, Maryland is the 2013 Library of the Year.

*Watch the Library of the Year Awards Ceremony live at from 8:45 to 9:30 pm EST on Sunday, July 30.*

Each year this prestigious recognition goes to one of the 21,000 public and academic libraries in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The recipient most profoundly demonstrates creativity, leadership and innovation in developing signature events and initiatives, particularly those that can be emulated by others. Howard County Library System (HCLS) will be featured as the cover story for the June 15 issue of Library Journal.

“Through unique partnerships with various community groups, innovative programming and a strong focus on education for all, HCLS has truly become a staple in local residents’ lives and for that we’re excited to present them with the 2013 Library of the Year Award,” said Ian Singer, publisher, Library Journal.

“At Cengage Learning our mission is to provide leading educational content and services to engage learners and improve their outcomes. Because of this, we are extremely supportive of Howard County Public Library's work to reposition itself as an educational institution within their community," said Nader Qaimari, senior vice president, marketing, Cengage Learning.

“We express our deepest gratitude to Gale and Library Journal for this esteemed award. Above all, the credit goes to our extraordinary staff members—a team whose professionalism, innovation, creativity, and collaboration sets the bar for excellence—and the visionary HCLS Board of Trustees. For his unsurpassed support, we thank Howard County Executive Ken Ulman. We also thank former Howard County Executive James Robey, the Howard County Council, Maryland State Legislators, Friends of Howard County Library, our philanthropic partners and volunteers, and the dynamic Howard County community,” said Valerie J. Gross, president & CEO, Howard County Library System. Gross added her appreciation for the collaborative environment among Maryland's public libraries.

collage of HCLS Miller Branch photosHCLS Architects Win Wintergreen Award for the Charles E. Miller Branch & Historical Center

Kudos to Grimm + Parker Architects, the architects of HCLS' Charles E. Miller Branch & Historical Center, for receiving the 2012 Wintergreen Award for Community Impact, sponsored by the U.S. Green Building Council, Maryland Chapter.

The new Miller Branch was a collaborative visioning effort between the A/E team, Howard County Library System, and the Howard County Historical Society. The two-story building, located in historic Ellicott City, offers an inviting and state of the art educational center for the community. The high performance building is equipped with innovative, sustainability features while providing a friendly, inviting and comfortable place for staff and visitors. The building was designed to achieve LEED Silver certification from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) and in 2012 received Gold certification with 42 points.

HCLS Charles E. Miller Branch & Historical Center Awarded LEED Gold Certification

HCLS' Charles E. Miller Branch & Historical Center was awarded LEED® Gold as established by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and verified by the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI). LEED is the nation's preeminent program for the design, construction, and operation of high performance green buildings.

The Miller Branch, designed by Grimm + Parker Architects, achieved LEED Gold certification for energy use, lighting, water, and material use, as well as incorporating a variety of other sustainable strategies. By using less energy and water, the LEED certified Miller Branch saves money for Howard County residents, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and contributes to a healthier environment for the community.

LEED Gold certification of the Miller Branch was based on a number of green design and construction features that positively impact the project itself and the broader community. These features include:

  • Water conservation features, energy efficient HVAC and lighting design, recycled and local materials, recycling of materials during construction, healthy indoor air quality, low VOC materials, sustainable site design, outdoor environmental features, and access to public transportation.
  • The green vegetative roof absorbs rainwater, conserves energy and roofing materials, mitigates the heat island effect, and provides an aesthetically pleasing environment.
  • A Photo Voltaic array (72 solar panels) on the south facing roof generates up to 16 kilowatts of energy per day.
  • The “river of lights” in the bulkhead on the first floor comprises LED lights, which burn fewer watts than a typical 200 watt light in the average home.
  • Each 4 ft. section of lights above the book stacks on the second floor uses two 32-watt lamps. An entire light fixture (top and bottom) uses fewer watts than four 75-watt bulbs in a typical residential living room.

Howard County Library System Awarded $100K STEM Grant to Launch HiTech

HiTech imageHCLS received $100,000 in federal grant funding to launch HiTech, a STEM digital media initiative for middle and high school students to elevate science, technology, engineering, and math.

One of only 12 successful applicants, HCLS competed with 100 other educational institutions from 32 states. The competition was announced in answer to President Obama’s "Educate to Innovate" campaign, a nationwide effort to bring American students to the forefront in science and math. The grants were awarded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, along with the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Extending his congratulations, County Executive Ken Ulman stated, “This grant reflects Howard County’s commitment to quality education and innovation. In today’s high-tech, global economy, it is more critical than ever that students receive the finest in STEM education. This award will enhance Howard County Library’s STEM curriculum for the benefit of our students, teaching tomorrow’s workforce the 21st Century knowledge and skills needed today.”

“We are especially pleased that HiTech will be headquartered in the newly expanded areas of our Savage Branch,” noted HCLS President & CEO Valerie Gross. “We thank County Executive Ken Ulman, and also the County Council, for approving our use of the available space, and for providing the capital funding needed for renovations.”

Developed by HCLS, the project combines state-of-the-art multimedia tools, software, technical consultants, mentors, and networking—all delivered to teens in an inviting, youth-oriented atmosphere. Opening in the spring of 2012, HiTech will enable creative thinking and engaged self-directed education in the areas of technology, engineering, and math. Teens will work individually and collaboratively on STEM-based projects.

“These children are our future innovators, problem solvers, and leaders,” said U.S. Representative John Sarbanes (MD-03). “This grant will provide hands-on learning opportunities that help put young Marylanders on a successful career path and keep our nation competitive."


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HCLS Honored as Five Star Library

For the second year in a row, Howard County Library System was designated a national “Star” library system by Library Journal ("America's Star Libraries, 2012: Top-Rated Libraries", Library Journal, November 2012) for delivering excellence in public education for all. Only one percent of the 7,513 U.S. public libraries attain such status. The Star awards classify libraries according to the amount of financial support they receive. HCLS earned the highest possible five-star rating in its category. 

HCLS concluded Fiscal Year 12 with record-setting statistics. In addition to borrowing 7.1 million items (the highest per capita in the state), customers visited HCLS’ six branches nearly three million times. Attendance at HCLS classes and events rose 11 percent, reaching a quarter of a million participants. Research assistance totaled nearly two million, for a 15 percent increase over the previous year.

Another National Top 10 Ranking For Howard County Library System
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In a survey of more than 9,200 public libraries across the country, Howard County Library System ranked in the top ten for borrowing per capita (24.03 items), according to the July/August 2011 issue of American Libraries.

HCLS concluded FY 11 with record-setting statistics. In addition to seven million items borrowed, customers of all ages visited the Library’s six branches 2.9 million times, reflecting a 7.1 percent increase over the previous year. Attendance at HCLS classes and events rose 19.3 percent, reaching nearly a quarter of a million participants. Research assistance totaled 1.6 million, for a 15 percent increase over the previous year.