Paula Miller, the first woman to direct the Baltimore County Public Library system, has announced her retirement after working 50 years in local library systems — but not before leading the county’s 19 library branches through reopening plans.
“She’s been instrumental in transforming the Baltimore County Public Library System into a forward-focused, 21st-century neighborhood hub that is accessible for people of all ages,” said County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. in a statement.
Libraries “have such impact on the public good,” Miller said.
She began working in libraries at the age of 16, her first real job in her hometown of Kent, Ohio, and said she discovered a passion for the role libraries fill in communities, and continued a lifelong career in the library system.
“That relates to something we’ve seen pretty dramatically during the pandemic, those equity issues, the digital and economic divide," Miller said. "Libraries deal with those things every day ... and try to bridge those divides.”
Before coming to Baltimore County, Miller directed Colorado’s Pikes Peak Library District for eight years, where she opened the award-winning Library 21c, lauded for its combination of traditional resources and technology like 3D printers and sewing machines for hands-on learning.
She’s also directed the Westlake Porter Public Library in Ohio and the Dover Public Library in Delaware. For four years earlier in her career, she worked as an administrator of the Eastern Shore Regional Library in Salisbury after earning a master’s degree in library science from the University of Maryland, College Park in 1979.
She’s also worked in the library at Kent State University, her alma mater, as well as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Library of Congress.
“It is truly an honor, and somehow fitting, that I cap my career in the Maryland-Delmarva library landscape where I began my career,” Miller said in a statement.
The Towson resident said she plans to focus on family and her two grandchildren in her retirement, and is considering moving to Ohio to be closer to them.
“Paula, through her actions, set a great example of how a servant leader sets the tone for her team,” said Board of Library Trustees President Aaron Slater in a statement.