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Library director receives national award

January 04, 2007|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN - Mary Baykan, a self-described "country librarian from Hagerstown," said she was humbled when she was awarded a national honor in her field.

Baykan, director of Washington County Free Library, was named The Library Journal's 2007 Librarian of the Year. She began working in libraries after high school more than 30 years ago, and has been director of Washington County Free Library for about 12 years.

Baykan said the librarian of the year title is a prestigious honor.

"I'm in the company of library giants," she said.

She said she was chosen for the honor in large part due to her efforts advocating for increased funding for libraries.

The Board of Trustees of Washington County Free Library said Baykan has been the motivating force behind the construction of new libraries in Smithsburg and Clear Spring, according to a release. Just a few months ago, Boonsboro held a groundbreaking ceremony for its library.

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Baykan also has worked on the renovation and expansion of the central library in Hagerstown.

Spence Perry, a member of the board of trustees, said the national award celebrates those accomplishments and others.

"I think it gives great credibility to (Baykan's) recommendations for our future, including the new renovated downtown library and continued expansion into our communities like Boonsboro and Clear Spring," he said.

According to the release, Baykan has formed a group that supports library programs and funds multicultural and language classes.

She also has worked to coordinate efforts of library staff around the state to promote libraries and enhance services.

"I really feel the library can make a major contribution to the community," Baykan said.

The board credited Baykan's work at the state level for two consecutive years of positive library funding votes in the Maryland General Assembly. In 2005, they voted to increase per capita library funding. In 2006, the legislature created a grant program for library renovation and construction with $5 million available in the first year.

"(Baykan's) efforts to cultivate positive relationships with the governor and the legislature resulted in an annual Library Day in Annapolis," the board stated in a release.

She said her award most likely will bring some attention to the library. She said she believes the community and others will recognize the valuable resource they have in Washington County Free Library.

She serves as a member of the Board of the Greater Hagerstown Committee, the Chamber of Commerce and Rotary International. Baykan is a past president of the Maryland Library Association and serves as legislative officer for the organization.

"It's a noble mission, and a noble profession," Baykan said. "I'm proud to be a part of it."

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