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Library director honored locally

January 06, 2007

HAGERSTOWN - A Who's Who of Washington County gathered Friday night to pay tribute to a woman who, everyone agreed, put Hagerstown on the map.

The Library Journal recently named Mary Baykan, director of the Washington County Free Library, its 2007 Librarian of the Year.

Margaret Carty helped write Baykan's nomination for the award. She emphasized Baykan's efforts to get public library funding that were approved by the General Assembly.

"She was able to bring together all the different library factions in the state," Carty said.

In 2005, the General Assembly 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.

Both measures passed through the General Assembly unanimously in both houses.

Librarians from around the state were on hand to thank their friend and leader.

"Everyone in the state loves Mary," said Lynn Wheeler, director of the Carroll County Public Library. "Anyone who got the letter today from the state about what their state aid will be loves Mary."

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When he stood to read a proclamation honoring Baykan, state Sen. Donald F. Munson explained that the senators unanimously voted to increase public library funding because Baykan sent over sweets.

"All the senators were in a happy mood," he said.

Baykan began working in libraries after graduating from high school more than 30 years ago, and was named director of the Washington County Free Library about 12 years ago.

Baykan stayed so long because Maryland is known as "library heaven," she said.

"People care so much for libraries," Baykan said.

In a few weeks, Baykan will travel to Seattle for an American Library Association meeting where she can formally accept the award.

And then?

Baykan wants to renovate and expand the library in Hagerstown.

"This is not the end," she said. "This is just a lovely, lovely intermission."

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