A Tradition of Excellence: Education for All
An award-winning educational institution that ranks among the best in North America, Howard County Library System (HCLS) began 75 years ago. Recognizing the power of knowledge, a group of civic-minded women opened the first HCLS branch in Ellicott City on October 11, 1940. Little did they know that their vision and leadership would set into motion an overarching philosophy that would expand HCLS to six branches in 2015, and culminate in its being hailed “a 21st-century library model, with a position, purpose, and curriculum worthy of study and consideration by every library in America, if not the world.” (Library Journal, June 2013)
A Timeless Vision
What sets HCLS apart? From 1940 to the present, HCLS’ mission of delivering high-quality public education for all has charted its course. The Library System’s extraordinary team of innovative educators and support staff strives to exceed expectations. They design and deliver an unparalleled curriculum for students of all ages that comprises Three Pillars:
- Self-Directed Education — A collection of one million items, available in print and electronic formats; specialized online research tools, and a host of online classes open an ever-expanding portal of opportunity for individuals to discover and learn any time, any place.
- Instructive & Enlightening Experiences — HCLS leverages funding and expertise through community partnerships, which include A+ Partners in Education with Howard County Public School System and Howard Community College; Choose Civility, now 125 Alliance Partners strong; the Enchanted Garden; and Well & Wise with Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. Signature events include the HCLS Spelling Bee, BumbleBee, Battle of the Books, HCLS Rube Goldberg Challenge, Summer Reading Kickoff, notable author events, and Evening in the Stacks.
Howard County Library System captivates ever-increasing segments of the community. Last year, customers visited HCLS branches three million times and borrowed over seven million items. Class and event attendance exceeded 260,000, and research assistance totaled two million interactions. These statistics represent a doubling/tripling since the beginning of the millennium and underscore the major return on funds invested in HCLS.
Serious about delivering an unmatched curriculum that improves the quality of life for everyone living and working in Howard County, HCLS creates a culture of innovation and excellence that advances the local economy. Working together over 75 years, visionary leaders, supporters, and the Howard County community have guided HCLS continually forward. With their strong beliefs in the power of education, these many architects diligently focused on making first-rate education available to all, regardless of age, background or means. This is the Library System’s core mission, business, and passion. It always has been. It always will be.