In FY17, a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services enabled the Towson Branch to launch a series of forums called “Economic Gardening: Helping Our Community Grow.” Developed in conjunction with community partners from the public and private sector, the program's goal is to help catalyze a local business community in Baltimore County by growing the economy from within, covering topics on investments, grant writing and minority-owned businesses. A partnership with Goodwill Industries of the Chesapeake, Inc. brought job readiness training and placement assistance to Baltimore County Public Library with weekly classes at the Essex, North Point, Randallstown and Woodlawn branches.
In collaboration with the University of Maryland, Baltimore County’s School of Public Policy and the League of Women Voters of Baltimore County, the Towson Branch hosted an eight-program series about the 2016 election season, providing opportunities for information sharing with experts and discussions among community members. Nine branches held showings of the Oscar-nominated documentary "13th", which is about race and incarceration, and provided an opportunity for all voices to be heard during facilitated discussions on the topic with academics and leaders in the social justice movement. Discussions of religion in the context of the media, women, peace and war were facilitated by panels with representatives from the Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths at the Cockeysville Branch.
Battle of the Books is a lively series of book-based competitions that grew out of the SAIL (Students Achieve in Libraries) partnership between Baltimore County Public Library and Baltimore County Public Schools. Competitions are hosted throughout Baltimore County, and have grown in recent years to include upper elementary students in both public and private schools, as well as the first middle school battle this year. Battle of the Books encourages reading by highlighting Maryland's Black-Eyed Susan Book Award winners. Students are exposed to quality literature while improving reading comprehension and vocabulary and promoting teamwork and good sportsmanship.
Early childhood family engagement is promoted through monthly visits to all seven Women, Infants and Children (WIC) centers in Baltimore County. Each month, librarians visit WIC centers to promote early learning practices and spread awareness of library services. At the visits, staff talk to families informally while they are waiting for appointments. They provide library cards, model reading to children and share early literacy tips and information about library materials, programs and resources. Grants and donors provide funding that allows for books to be distributed to children at no cost to families or to Baltimore County Public Library.
Director Paula Miller and select staff were chosen to participate in a multiple-day workshop to develop a community engagement guide for libraries to utilize across the globe. This invitation was a result of recent successes with programs that provided community members with safe spaces and conversation to explore, connect and learn more about one another and the topics prevalent in our community.
The Hereford Branch received the Award of Merit for the Hereford Branch Library Renovation in Recognition of Outstanding Construction Management in the category of General Contractor Renovation Over $1 Million. This award recognized the collaboration of Baltimore County Office of Property Management, architect Manns Woodward Studios, Inc., and Baltimore County Public Library.
The Media Services department was recognized with an award of distinction for the production of several videos in the instructional and video blog categories.
The Media Services department received a Bronze Telly Award for Excellence to honor the production of Made in Baltimore County, Episode 1.
The William & Lanaea C. Featherstone Foundation honored Baltimore County Public Library for its strong support of the Foundation’s work in the Latino community.
Fiscal Year 2017 was a year of sharing our vision and the strategic plan within the community to create opportunities for connecting and building partnerships to achieve goals. The power of these connections fostered relationships, provided inspiration for success and brought a synergy that led to a greater collective impact for 800,000 Baltimore County residents and the 10 million visitors to our 19 branches, 4 bookmobiles and the virtual branch.