Baltimore County Public Library Directors Past and Present Banner


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Paula Miller (2014 - present)

Paula Miller, was selected as the new director for Baltimore County Public Library after a nationwide search conducted by the Baltimore County Public Library Board of Library Trustees. Ms. Miller began her tenure at Baltimore County Public Library on August 4, 2014. Ms. Miller is the fourth director of BCPL, and the first female director in its celebrated 67 year history.


Prior to Baltimore County Public Library, Ms. Miller was director of Pikes Peak Library District in El Paso County, Colorado since 2006. Before that, she served as director of the Westlake Porter Public Library in Ohio; administrator of the Eastern Shore Regional Library in Maryland and director of the Dover Public Library in Delaware. She received her Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) degree from the University of Maryland.


Source: BCPL News Release May 2, 2014

James H. Fish (1996 - 2014)

James H. Fish picked up the reins as director of  the Baltimore County Public Library in 1996 following the retirement of Charles Robinson.


Born in Leominster, Massachusetts in 1947, Jim Fish received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Massachusetts in 1968, followed in 1971 by a Master of Library Science degree from Indiana University Bloomington School of Library and Information Services. He was the recipient of the 2006 Distinguished Alumni Award from Indiana University School of Library and Information Science. James Fish earned his Master of Business Administration from Anna Maria College in 1980.


After a United States Army stint as a non-commissioned officer (1969 to 1971), Jim Fish's first library directorships took him to the Levi Heywood Memorial Library in Gardner, Massachusetts ( 1971 to 1972),  the Leominster Public Library in Leominster, Massachusetts (1972 to 1977) and the Robbins Library in Arlington, Massachusetts (1977 to 1980), each with increasingly larger staffs, book collections, and budgets.


From 1980 to 1982, Jim Fish served as state librarian for the Massachusetts State Library. Returning to the public library sector, Jim Fish then directed the second busiest public library in New England, the Springfield City Library in Massachusetts, from 1982 to 1990.


Crossing the country to the west coast in 1990, Jim Fish served as the as the city librarian of the public library system in San Jose, California until 1996 when the east once more beckoned him and Jim joined the staff of the Baltimore County Public Library as director.


Serving as president of the Maryland Library Association (July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010), Jim Fish actively promoted the improvement of library services in the state. Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley appointed Jim Fish as member and chair of the Maryland Advisory Council on Libraries for the remainder of a five-year term ending June 30, 2010. Mr. Fish received the Maryland Library Association's Outstanding Member Award in 2013 for effectively providing sustained service to the Maryland Library Association and significantly enhancing its mission and goals.


James H. Fish announced his retirement effective June 30, 2014, after nearly 18 years leading Baltimore County’s 19-branch library system and over 43 years as a public library director.


Under Mr. Fish’s tenure, Baltimore County Public Library significantly expanded public hours, including the expansion in 2013 to have all 19 branches open Sunday afternoons year-round; opened new branch facilities at Perry Hall, Arbutus, Sollers Point and Owings Mills, along with expansions or renovations at Cockeysville, Hereford, Pikesville and Woodlawn; reopened the Loch Raven and Lansdowne Branches after their closures in the early 1990s; created the imaginative Storyville learning villages at Rosedale and Woodlawn Branches for children ages birth through 5; introduced e-books; and became a national leader in RFID and self-check technology.


Sources:  Who's Who in America 1998; Fact Sheet, Baltimore County Public Library papers; BCPL News Release September 18, 2013.

Charles W. Robinson (1963 - 1996)

Charles W. Robinson joined the staff of the Baltimore County Public Library as the Assistant County Librarian on January 12, 1959. When the Director, Richard D. Minnich, died suddenly in 1963, the Board of Library Trustees named Charles W. Robinson the director. Thus began a 33-year era of innovative, progressive and inspired leadership that moved Baltimore County Public Library to the forefront of public library service in the nation. Mr. Robinson was an early risk-taker in implementing emerging library-related technologies for use in Baltimore County Public Library.


Charles Robinson was born in Beijing, China, in 1928, where his father was a medical missionary. He left China in early 1941 for Newton, Massachusetts. He graduated from the Hotchkiss School, then went to Colby College where he majored in history, government and economics. After graduation, he entered Simmons College, School of Library Science, graduating with a Master of Library Science degree in August 1951. Mr. Robinson then served as a Sergeant with the 2nd Infantry Division, 38th Infantry Regiment, in Korea, where he was in charge of battle casualty reporting, awards and decorations for the 38th Infantry Regiment.


Charles W. Robinson began his professional career in 1953 at the Free Library of Philadelphia, where he was the administrative assistant to Director Emerson Greenway, before moving to Baltimore County. In 1959, he joined the Baltimore County Public Library as staff assistant to Director Richard D. Minnich.  Following Mr. Minnich’s death in 1963, Mr. Robinson was appointed as his replacement.


Mr. Robinson served as the president of the Public Library Association in 1985  and twice served on the Council of the American Library Association. He received the Maryland Library Association's Outstanding Member Award in 1977 for innovative, consistent efforts toward progress and development in library service in the state of Maryland and Honorary Membership in the Maryland Library Association in 1997.


In 1991, Mr. Robinson received a Public Library Association Presidential Citation in recognition of extraordinary service and commitment to the advancement of the Public Library Association. His exceptional contributions include a major role in the development of several publications considered vital to the good management of public libraries. They included the Output Measures for Public Libraries, Planning and Role Setting for Public Libraries, Give ‘Em What They Want! Managing the Public’s Library, and the establishment of the annual publication of the Public Library Data Service, Statistical Report.


On the occasion of his retirement, the Public Library Association with funding from the Baker and Taylor Company, Inc. established the Charles W. Robinson Award to be given annually to an outstanding practitioner in the library field who has demonstrated innovative and responsive leadership resulting in the improvement of public library service.


After his retirement from Baltimore County Public Library in 1996, Mr. Robinson continued his involvement in the world of public libraries as the editor and writer for the Library Administrator's Digest.


Charles W. Robinson passed away on Friday, April 8, 2016.  His legacy continues as library icon whose “give ‘em what they want” focus on meeting customer needs became a model for public libraries across the nation.


Sources: Obituary Charles W. Robinson, Baltimore Sun April 14, 2016, 33 Years of Inspired Leadership, Pamphlet. 1996. Baltimore County Public Library. The Times 1/1/59

Richard D. Minnich (1949 - 1963)

Richard D. Minnich began as the first county librarian of the Baltimore County Public Library on January 1, 1949. With the consolidation of independent community libraries into one county library system in 1948, the newly appointed Board of Library Trustees chose Minnich to direct operations of the libraries. He served as director until his death on Friday, August 2, 1963.


He received his liberal arts and library science degrees from the University of Michigan in 1934 and 1935 respectively. Mr. Minnich served in the Detroit Public Library in Michigan from 1935 to 1938. Before coming to Baltimore County, Mr. Minnich served as director of  the Easton Public Library, Easton, Pennsylvania beginning in 1938. Mr. Minnich was a past president of the Pennsylvania Library Association and the Maryland Library Association.


During Richard Minnich's tenure, he oversaw Baltimore County Public Library's growth from individually operated libraries to a unified library system with centralized functions and initiated expanding branch coverage throughout the county. In 1950, he started the centralized processing of books for all county libraries and the listing of all book resources in a central catalog. By 1951, this progressed far enough to warrant the establishment of a system of interlibrary loan between the libraries. Mr. Minnich's first step in expansion of the system was the purchase of a bookmobile in 1952.


Following Mr. Minnich's suggestion, a comprehensive survey by Lowell Martin was made in 1957 to 1958 as a means of authenticating the deficiencies in Baltimore County's public library service and to determine the means to provide essential services on an adequate and equitable basis. His persistence, patience and dedication led to the growth and expansion of the Baltimore County Public Library along the lines recommended by the survey.


Sources: Evening Sun 4/25/49, Herald Argus 4/29/49 and various Baltimore County Public Library documents.


Revised: June 15, 2016