Valerie J. Gross has served as President and CEO of Howard County (Md.) Library System (HCLS) for 10 years. A passionate promoter of libraries, she believes the most effective way to convey the value of libraries is to speak in value-enhanced, intuitive terms people understand. Ms. Gross has led the process to reposition HCLS as a major component of education, which has resulted in nearly tripled library visits (1M to 2.6M), the more than doubling of materials borrowed (3M to 7.2M), research assistance interactions exceeding 1.3M annually, and yearly attendance at classes and events totaling 186K—in a county with 282,000 residents.
Ms. Gross credits the HCLS Board of Trustees, Howard County Executive, Howard County Council, Maryland State Legislators, Friends of HCLS, philanthropic partners, devoted volunteers, dynamic community, and, most importantly, HCLS’ innovative staff, for repositioning HCLS as “one of the nation’s great public library systems” (American Libraries, November 2009).