State Librarian to Retire on December 31

Augusta - After 48 years of public service in education and libraries, Linda Lord will retire from her post as Maine State Librarian on December 31.

In recognition of her many contributions to the Maine library community, the Maine State Library will host an open house on Monday, December 15, 2014 from 3:30 to 6:00 PM to provide library patrons and friends the opportunity to celebrate Linda’s service. To RSVP for the event, please complete the online form at www.maine.gov/msl/linda or call 207-287-5620.

Lord began her career as a teacher at Mt. View High School, but her love of books and passion for children’s literacy eventually led to her taking on the job of school librarian. In 1992 she was hired by the Maine Department of Education to serve as the agency’s programming producer for the University’s interactive television (ITV) network.

The rapid growth of the internet and changes in communications technology during the mid-to-late 1990’s meant new opportunities to bring distance learning and access to information to libraries and schools. Linda was promoted to the position of Instructional Technology Coordinator for the Department of Education and helped with the formation of the Maine School and Library Network which today connects nearly 1000 Maine schools and libraries to the internet.

She joined the staff of the Maine State Library in 1999, serving first as Director of Library Development and Deputy State Librarian before being selected by the Maine Library Commission in 2009 to serve as the State Librarian.

“Linda’s tenure as state librarian came at a time when libraries everywhere were reevaluating their roles in their communities and adjusting their services to better accommodate the needs of their patrons,” said Beth Edmonds, chair of the Maine Library Commission. “Her leadership at the Maine State Library led to a number of new initiatives that have transformed and strengthened library services throughout the state.”

In 2011, she persuaded lawmakers to provide funding to expand interlibrary loan services to more rural libraries. The system allows patrons from any participating library to select books from the collections from other libraries and have them delivered to their home library. At a time when many libraries were cutting back on their budgets for books, the service made it possible for patrons of even the smallest libraries to access the enormous collection of materials available in other institutions. Last year over one million titles were transferred between libraries using the system.

Lord also lobbied legislators for the creation of a new funding source to support statewide library services and her work led to the creation of a voluntary state income tax check-off to provide funding for initiatives with a statewide impact on library services. In 2014, the program generated nearly $32,000 in donations from Maine taxpayers. “Linda was very effective in promoting the needs of libraries before the Maine Legislature,” said Senate President-elect Michael Thibodeau. “She made it a point to connect with legislators from around the state to let them know what was happening in libraries in their communities and tie it back to the issues they were considering in Augusta.”

In an effort to promote professional development and improve services provided by libraries, Maine State Library staff developed and launched three-level voluntary certification program for librarians comprised of online courses, archived webinars, workshops and special institutes. Earlier this year, Lord collaborated with the Maine Department of Health and Human Services to obtain funding for a statewide Early Literacy Consultant to provide libraries throughout the state with training and resources to support local literacy activities for infants up to preschool age.

“It’s no secret that small public libraries have struggled in recent years due to tight budgets and increasing operating costs,” said Cara Sawyer, co-director of the Cherryfield Public Library. “The support we have received from Linda and the Maine State Library has helped strengthen our library and improve the way we serve our patrons.”

A firm believer that public libraries should be offering programming that is responsive to their communities, she helped develop a number of new resources to assist libraries in planning local events. That led to new partnerships with institutions like Cornerstones of Science to make it free and easy for libraries to provide workshops on a variety of different science related topics. She also supported the development of a lending technology petting zoo at the Maine State Library that has travelled around to libraries throughout Maine, providing the opportunity for librarians to get hands-on experience using tablets and e-readers and offer demonstrations and workshops for their patrons. The newest addition to the collection is a pair of 3-D printers that will be in circulation in early 2015.

Over the years, she was frequently called on to assist in the shaping of Federal policy relating to library services and technology access. She served as Chair of the American Library Association E-rate Task Force, testifying before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation at the invitation of its Chairperson, Senator Rockefeller. Earlier this year she testified before a Federal Communications Commission panel advocating for enhanced rural broadband connections and outlining the educational and economic development benefits to high-speed internet access in a community.

“Linda has been a strong voice for state libraries, broadband access for all and, most importantly, the great state of Maine,” said Susan Hildreth, director of the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Her work with the Maine Digital Summit Planning Committee culminated in a successful federal Broadband Technology Opportunity Program grant of $1.3 million, which brought over 500 computers and technology training to over 100 public libraries and included 14 libraries receiving video conferencing equipment.

Despite her many accomplishments including an Education and Leadership award from the Maine Development Foundation, Lord frequently notes that her greatest pride was the staff that she led at the Maine State Library.

She is the 19th person to serve as State Librarian in the 175-year history of the Maine State Library.

A lifelong resident of Brooks, Lord served nine years as member of her town board of selectmen and is an organist in her church. She looks forward to spending more time with her husband in retirement and doing a lot of traveling.