The County Commissioners created the Caroline County Public Library in 1961. It operated out of a storefront in Denton. The current Central Library facility was opened in 1971 and was subsequently renovated and enlarged in 1995. The library system includes the Central Library in Denton and branches in Federalsburg (opened in 1974) and Greensboro (opened in 1997).
The library is a county agency operated under statutory provisions of the education section of the Annotated Code of Maryland, and is an exempt organization under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. The Board is an empowered, decision-making entity. Members are appointed by the County Commissioners from recommendations made by the Board of Library Trustees. The library receives operating monies from both county and state with a preponderance of funds coming from the county. Additionally, it has augmented its funding via competitive grants which have led to new innovations and improvements.
The Caroline County Public Library acts as the county’s community center, its cultural and information center, and its lifelong learning center. Its Vision states: “The Caroline County Public Library empowers customers to use information and ideas to enrich their lives.” The library carries this out with approximately 21 FTE staff including professional librarians, Bachelor degreed Library Associates and clerical staff. All support the library program in the following areas: Administration, Circulation, Outreach, Reference, Children’s Services, Branch Services, Technical Services, and Computer Services.
The library is part of a strong statewide network and receives supporting services from a regional library in Salisbury, MD (Eastern Shore Regional Library) and the State Library Resource Center at Enoch Pratt in Baltimore, MD. Services include a daily delivery system. Access to the collections of all the State’s public libraries and many of its academic libraries is available. Sailor, the statewide public library technology network, provides routers, high speed Internet access and content to all public library systems in Maryland.
The library has used technology as a means of improving operations and providing services to its customers. All branches are connected to the Central Library via point-to-point wireless service. The Central Library uses local and wide area networks and its Sailor router and connections to provide Internet service to its branches and acts as an Internet Service Provider (ISP) for county government and the schools. The library provides full-text subscription databases and other content on its web site to all its customers either remotely or from some 30 public access computers in the branches. The library also provides automation services for the principal functions of all the school media centers in the county. This lets them streamline their operations and share resources among the schools and public library branches heretofore unavailable. Caroline is the only county in Maryland to have achieved this.
Over the years the Caroline County Public Library has been acknowledged as a leader in the development and provision of library services. It initiated new user, community and reference assessments, subsequently used statewide, to develop its long-range plan in terms of its users. The plan was cited by the U.S. Department of Education. The library participated in studies on information and referral programs with national implications. The library developed one of the first CD-ROM networks in the country in 1986. During the last statewide assessments of public library reference services, the Caroline County Public Library scored the best in the State by a significant margin. Many of the public libraries in Delaware have benchmarked the Caroline County Public Library to help them improve their services.
The library carries out or hosts numerous cultural, educational, and informational programs for its customers. The Caroline County Public Library will continue to support the educational, informational and lifelong learning needs of its customers and the economic development of Caroline County.
Early Libraries in Caroline County
- 1919 – The Ridgely Community Library was founded.
- 1932 – The Woman’s Club of Federalsburg opened a Library one night per week. Mrs. Jefferson was the first Librarian.
- 1934 – A Permanent building was constructed for Ridgely Community Library on First Street, next to the Fire House.
- 1936 – The Woman’s Club of Denton offered a room, books, and librarians for a community library.
- 1961 January 1 – The Board of Library Trustees was appointed by Governor Tawes.
- 1961 May 23 – The Caroline County Public Library was officially authorized by County Commissioners.
- 1961 July 1 – William N. Rairigh was hired as the County Librarian.
- 1961 September – A lease was signed for a new Library Headquarters on 216 Market St., Denton, MD.
- 1962 February 24 – Caroline County Public Library was formally opened, with 2000 new books and 5000 used books from Ridgely Community Library, Denton Public Library, and Federalsburg Woman’s Club Library. (7000 total books)
- 1962 May – A Bookmobile was introduced to the public with an Open House.
- 1967 – The Children’s Annex, formerly Talbot County’s Bookmobile, opened and was permanently on the elementary school grounds (where the district court is today) at the corner of 3rd and Randolph Streets.
- 1987 Winter – AARP began offering Tax Preparation Assistance.
- 1987 – The Performing Arts series began with Carnival in Caroline.
- 1991- June 18 – Bookmobile #4 was put in service.
- 1994 – Caroline County Public Library received an award from Maryland Department of Education for the highest performing library system in a statewide reference survey.
- 1996 – The Library acquired Internet service through Sailor, Maryland’s Online Public Information Network, including public access to the Internet.
- 1996-1997 All library materials were barcoded to create an automated circulation system.
- 1997 February – Library cards were barcoded to become part of the automated circulation system.
- 1997 June 14 – Re-dedication of the renovated Library at 100 Market Street.
- 1997 December 6 – Grand Opening was held at the North County Branch in Greensboro.
- 1998 May – Friends of Caroline County Public Library won the Maryland Library Association Volunteer of the Year Award.
- 1998 September – The Caroline County Public Schools’ media centers joined their holdings with the Library’s automated circulation system, increasing access to materials for students and the general public.
- 2000 – grant funding awarded to digitize the historical Denton Journal and to develop a Homework Center at the Central Library in Denton.
- 2001 November – MyFamilyNeeds.Info was established as a community information database and referral service through a grant from the Human Services Council.
- 2003 March – Library staff began providing online chat reference service as part of the statewide consortium, Maryland AskUsNow!
- 2003 May – The first training session was held in the Central Library’s grant-funded computer lab.
- 2003 – A “Teen Zone” consisting of a collection of Young Adult materials was developed for all library locations with granted funds from multiple sources.
- 2007 August – Bookmobile #5 was delivered.
- 2010 June 30 – George Sands retired after 35 years of service. Debby Bennett was named Acting Administrator.
- 2010 November 3 – Grand Opening of the Teen Zone at the Central Library.
- 2011 March 17 – The Library’s Teen Zone received national recognition for its innovative design.
- 2011 May 3 – Library’s 50th Anniversary celebration was launched with County Commissioners declaring May as Library Month in Caroline County.
- 2011 July 1 – Debby Bennett hired as Library Administrator.