Annapolis is a great place to be a reader, and there’s probably no better time to acknowledge this than right now, when the Anne Arundel County Public Library is celebrating its 100th anniversary.
That’s right: Annapolis opened its first public library on January 21, 1921, and in the years since then, the local public library system — now formally known as Anne Arundel County Public Library, or AACPL for short — has grown to include 16 locations that serve the 21st-century needs of more than 1.3 million customers.
AACPL Fun Facts
- The first Annapolis Library that opened in 2021 was located in downtown Annapolis. Its collection held only 2,000 books, most of which had been donated by local clubs, civic groups, and churches.
The library itself was run by librarian Eliza Suydam. AACPL’s staff today acknowledge that Mrs. Suydam fit the mold of the stereotypical no-nonsense librarian. While the library was only open for two hours a day, three days a week, customers were allowed to check books out for two weeks. In those days, a library card cost 10 cents.
- The second Anne Arundel library to open was the Glen Burnie Library in the 1920s. This location was housed in the Glen Burnie Masonic Temple. The library moved to various locations around Glen Burnie until it opened in its current location in 1969. A bookmobile started serving the Glen Burnie area in 1953 — and yes, that’s exactly what it sounds like: a bus that brought books to people around town.
- The Annapolis Library changed buildings several times throughout the years. Its downtown location closed and moved to the old Annapolis High School in the 1930s. It later set up in Reynold’s Tavern for a brief period before moving to West Street.
- AACPL has a long history of holding programs for children. The very first storytime was held in 1931. Today’s library system has a variety of programs for youth of all ages, from after-school clubs to Toddler Time activities. Programs center not only on literacy but also on music, movement, and other important disciplines for children to learn. AACPL also holds events for adults, including book clubs, movie nights, and skill development workshops.
- Closing racial barriers has long been a priority for AACPL. Back in 1938, in the days of segregation, AACPL opened a branch on Clay Street in Annapolis to serve the community’s Black residents. AACPL has continued its efforts for inclusion and diversity with anti-racism book recommendations and other programs.
- It took nearly 15 years for the library system to become official. Up until 1936, the Annapolis and Glen Burnie branches were run by what was known as the Library Commission. The commission incorporated and took on the name The Public Library Association of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County.
Throughout the following decades, branches began to open more consistently. The Linthicum Library opened in 1958, the Riviera Beach Library opened in 1964, and the Deale Library opened in 1968. The most recent library to open is the Michael Busch Library, which opened its doors in July 2020 in Annapolis.
- In 1987, AACPL moved away from the card catalog it has used for decades and instituted an online circulation system. A year later, it started issuing plastic yellow cards instead of cardboard cards for customers. By 1995, customers were able to reserve books and check their account information online via the internet instead of going to the branch in person.
Technological advances continued into the new millennium. In 2009, AACPL installed self-checkouts, and it added pre-loaded Kindles and Nooks to its collection of material in 2012.
- Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, AACPL has striven to continue serving customers in safe capacities. Many of its programs — including virtual storytimes, movie and book discussions, and technology tutorials — have switched to online formats that can be accessed here. Branches also offer curbside pickup for materials, plus in-person appointments for computer use and other library services. Appointments for these in-person visits can be made here.
- Another milestone AACPL recently hit was its fine-free initiative. As of 2021, the system will no longer charge overdue fines for late materials. (Fees will still be applied for lost or damaged items.) AACPL explained the decision as part of its goal to serve as many people as possible and that fines disproportionately affect people who are unable to pay.
- Loyal patrons of AACPL are invited to participate in the system’s “$100 for 100 Years” Campaign going on now. Anyone who makes a gift donation of $100 will have their name listed on a plaque at their favorite branch and will be invited to attend a Century Celebration later in 2022 (date TBD).
Need to find the branch of AACPL that’s closest to your potential home? Be sure to look up the address here.
Want to learn more about all the amazing culture the Annapolis community has to offer? Connect with Jennifer Schaub by calling 720-244-2800 or emailing Jennifer.email@example.com.