Montgomery County Public Libraries

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Montgomery County Public Libraries
LocationMontgomery County, Maryland, U.S.
Size2,118,538 volume Edit this on Wikidata
Access and use
Population served1,044,292[2]
Other information
DirectorAnita Vassallo (Acting)

The Montgomery County Public Libraries (MCPL) is the public library system for residents of Montgomery County, Maryland. The system includes 21 publicly accessible branches and a public kiosk, as well as a branch in the Montgomery County Correctional facility.


Library service in Montgomery County started in 1869 when a group of Rockville and other area residents assembled in the County Courthouse to plan a joint stock library. Other independent libraries were formed in Montgomery County in the following years. For example, in 1893 a group of private citizens in Kensington established the Noyes Library. From 1893 until 1950, independent public or subscriber funded libraries provided limited services to residents of southern Montgomery County. Nine independent library associations operated facilities located in Bethesda, Four Corners, Gaithersburg, Garrett Park, Kensington, Rockville, Sherwood, Silver Spring, and Wheaton.[4]

In 1945 the Maryland Legislature passed the State Library Law which provided matching state funds for County library systems, based on a County's population.[4] On May 31, 1950, the Montgomery County Council passed the County Library Law of 1950, which created a Department of Public Libraries administered by a professional librarian and advised by a Library Board. George B. Moreland was hired as the first Director of the Library System. The Library Board was appointed by the County Council and assumed its duties in February 1951.[5]

By July 1, 1951, when the Department officially began its operations, seven of the nine independent Montgomery County libraries agreed to hand over administrative control to the new system in exchange for improved library service.[5] Remaining independent meant that a library would have to operate from individual subscriptions, donations and fundraising, whereas joining the county system meant that it would receive county funds.[6] The Library System began operation with properties and administrative control of seven formerly independent libraries, including Four Corners, Gaithersburg, Garrett Park, Noyes, Sherwood, Silver Spring, and Wheaton. The Bethesda Library Association transferred its facility and collections to the County on July 1, 1952, but the Rockville Library Association did not follow suit until July 1, 1957.[4]

Today Montgomery County Public Libraries (MCPL) consists of 21 branches. MCPL also provides services at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility.


MCPL is a Montgomery County government agency. The current Acting Director of Public Libraries is Anita Vassallo.[7]

The Public Libraries budget is included in the County budget process. The approved budget for fiscal year 2017 (July 2016–June 2017) is US$40,658,904. This includes money for facilities, physical and electronic collections and databases, staff, and programs. Public Libraries employees are County employees. For Fiscal Year 2017, the approved budget included 215 full-time and 209 part-time positions.[3]

In 2016, the MCPL released a new strategic plan for Fiscal Years 2017-2020,[8] which includes four core aspects:

  • Literate Montgomery: Emphasizing aspects of literacy for children and adults, Early Literacy, English Language Literacy, Health Literacy, Digital Literacy, Financial Literacy and Environmental Literacy.
  • Connected Montgomery: Emphasizing diversity in programs and services, reaching customers, increasing civic engagement, and providing collaborative spaces.
  • Strong and Vibrant Montgomery: Emphasizing job and workforce readiness and support for small businesses
  • Delighted Montgomery: Emphasizing improvements to spaces, a focus on customer service and programs, relevant technologies and partnerships, and supporting staff recognition and development.

The Public Libraries has a Library Board made up of twelve members appointed by the County Executive and one representing the School Board. The Board makes recommendations to the County Executive on library-related issues, including facilities, collection, service areas, and personnel. The Library Board has twenty-three Library Advisory Committees, subcommittees representing individual branches or programs. Members of the LACs are approved by the Board.[9]


Rockville Memorial Library
Noyes Library for Young Children, Kensington

The following MCPL branches are open to the public:[1]

  • Aspen Hill Library
  • Chevy Chase Library
  • Connie Morella Library (Bethesda)
  • Damascus Library
  • Davis Library (Bethesda)
  • Gaithersburg Library
  • Germantown Library
  • Kensington Park Library
  • Little Falls Library (Bethesda)
  • Long Branch Library (Silver Spring)
  • Maggie Nightingale Library (formerly Poolesville)
  • Marilyn J. Praisner Library (formerly Fairland)
  • Noyes Library for Young Children (Kensington)
  • Olney Library
  • Potomac Library
  • Quince Orchard Library
  • Rockville Memorial Library
  • Silver Spring Library
  • Twinbrook Library
  • Wheaton Library
  • White Oak Library

MCPL operates a Capital Improvement Program that calls for branches to be updated on an accelerated timetable through refresh projects. Two to three libraries per year are closed for several months to complete these projects. The Refresh program allows for technological and other updates on an accelerated timetable from the previous 25 year renovation cycle.[10] The refresh program was recognized with the 2016 Top Innovator Award from the Urban Libraries Council.[11]

In addition to publicly accessible branches, MCPL provides a kiosk service at the Mid-County Community Center and operates at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility.[1]


MCPL offers a wide variety of services to the public. These include physical and electronic book checkouts, magazines and e-magazines, audiobooks in various formats, and access to movie and television shows. Services in branches include internet computer access and WiFi connection.[12] Some branches offer specialized graphic design software.[13] Printing and copying services are also available.[14] Librarians are available at every branch to help customers find the books, information, and resources they need. MCPL also offers online information services through its Ask a Librarian and What Do I Check Out Next services.

In addition, MCPL offers a variety of programs aimed at children, teens, adults, and seniors. Programs cover a range of educational and other topics. Examples of programs include: storytimes and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) skills programs for children; coding, writing, and financial literacy programs for teens; book discussion groups and job searching programs for adults; and health, art and financial planning programs for seniors.[15]

MCPL also offers an Outreach Team that can visit community events to share information about services and sign individuals up for library cards.[16]


The library system is part of the Maryland Consolidated Library System, which provides that any person who is a resident of the State of Maryland may obtain a library card at no charge at any county library or Baltimore City. This privilege is also available to non-residents who work for an employer in Maryland or pay property taxes there. A person may apply for a card from any library system in the state, or choose to authorize a card from any other library system in the state on that system.

Anyone who lives, works, or goes to school in Montgomery County OR lives in Maryland, the District of Columbia, or in Alexandria, Arlington, Falls Church, Fairfax, Loudoun, or Prince William Counties in Northern Virginia is eligible for a free MCPL card. There is no age limit to get an MCPL card. There is a $2.00 fee to replace lost or stolen cards. With a MCPL card, customers can borrow materials, download e-books, audiobooks, and music, use research databases and online learning tools, and much more. A MCPL card can be applied for in person at any branch with a proof of address and a photo ID or online. Anyone who does not qualify for a free MCPL card can apply for a MCPL Nonresident card which is $10.00 a year and non-refundable.[17]

Nearby public library systems[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Branches and Hours". Montgomery County Public Libraries. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  2. ^ "Montgomery County Demographic Data". Montgomery College. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  3. ^ a b "Public Libraries" (PDF). Montgomery County Office of Management and Budget. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  4. ^ a b c "Guide to the Records of the DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC LIBRARIES 1908, 1931-1989" (PDF). Montgomery County Historical Society. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  5. ^ a b "Guide to the Records of the MONTGOMERY COUNTY LIBRARY BOARD 1949-1994" (PDF). Montgomery County Historical Society. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  6. ^ "The Library's Long History". The Noyes Children's Library Foundation. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  7. ^ "Library Leadership". Montgomery County Public Libraries. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  8. ^ "Strategic Plan". Montgomery County Public Libraries. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  9. ^ "Library Board". Montgomery County Public Libraries. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  10. ^ "Refresh Projects". Montgomery County Public Libraries. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  11. ^ "Newsletter". Urban Libraries Council. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  12. ^ "Using MCPL's Public Computers". Montgomery County Public Libraries. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  13. ^ "Studio i: Digital Media Labs". Montgomery County Public Libraries. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  14. ^ "Help with MCPL's Public Computers". Montgomery County Public Libraries. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  15. ^ "Calendar of Events". Montgomery County Public Libraries. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  16. ^ "Request for Visit from Outreach Staff Member". Montgomery County Public Libraries. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  17. ^ "About Library Cards". Montgomery County Public Libraries. Retrieved 1 March 2017.

External links[edit]