Welcome to the Baltimore County Public Library.

Baltimore County Public Library logo Taste of the Town is SOLD OUT. Contribute today...
   
Type of search:   

Baltimore County Public Library Directors Past and Present Banner

 

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 1957-1958 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.

 

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 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.

 

Charles Robinson was born in Peking, 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 in Korea, where he was in charge of battle casualty reporting and 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 the Director, Emerson Greenway, before moving to Baltimore County.

 

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 Maryland Library Association Honorary Membership 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 are Output Measures for Public Libraries, Planning and Role Setting for Public Libraries and the establishment of the annual publication of the Public Library Data Service, Statistical Report.

 

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

 

Sources: 33 Years of Inspired Leadership, Pamphlet. 1996. Baltimore County Public Library. The Times 1/1/59

 

 

James H. Fish (1996 - present )

 

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 an Master of Library Science degree from Indiana University Bloomington School of Library and Information Services. He is 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 (1969-1971), Jim Fish's first library directorships took him to the Levi Heywood Memorial Library in Gardner, Massachusetts ( 1971-1972),  the Leominster Public Library in Leominster, Massachusetts (1972-1977) and the Robbins Library in Arlington, Massachusetts (1977-1980), 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 City Librarian of the San Jose, California Public Library system 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 promotes the improvement of library services in the state. Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley appointed Jim Fish as member and now chair of the Maryland Advisory Council on Libraries for the remainder of a five-year term ending June 30, 2010.

 

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 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/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.