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Annual Report 2016-17

As I sat down to write my introduction to the annual report, I debated about what, this year, I wanted to emphasize. Should I focus on the amazing number of enriching, educational, entertaining adult programs we brought to our communities this past year? How about the many instructional classes we offered to children, teens and adults? A real focus could be on one of our most important missions – the library as an early literacy champion; helping our youngest citizens be prepared to enter school with the necessary skills to learn.

As I was mulling all this over, it suddenly occurred to me that the Washington County Free Library was about to have a significant anniversary. Next year, 2018, will mark the 120th anniversary of WCFL receiving its charter to operate as a county public library from the Maryland General Assembly.

In the following one hundred and twenty years, our county, our country and the world has seen a lot of changes. Could those visionary community leaders, who all those years ago sought to bring a free public library to Washington County, have imagined the library of the twenty-first century with computers, Internet, e-books and streaming video? Probably not.

Nor would they recognize the world of social media where both truth and reality, unfortunately, can become distorted; where opinion frequently masquerades as fact, the world of “fake news.”

What they would recognize however, is the guiding principle that we have held steadfast for all these years, and that is our citizen’s right to have access to information: information that is factual and verifiable. Information that enables them to make informed decisions that helps improve and protect their lives and the lives of their families. An informed citizenry is fundamental to preserving our democracy. The ability to read has never been more important so exercise that ability whenever possible and help others gain that ability. The right to read guards all other rights. So read whenever and whereever you can and whatever you choose. Read for information and read for sheer pleasure. It is one of the world’s greatest joys.

- Mary Baykan, Executive Director - Washington County Free Library