- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 9, 2005

BALTIMORE (AP) — Public librarians across the state are preparing to unleash the new MPOWER card, which gives the bearer the ability to borrow from any of Maryland’s 174 public libraries.

On Thursday, state officials chose the new library in Odenton in Anne Arundel County near the Howard County line, as the site at which to introduce the eye-catching turquoise card, which presents different images as the holder tilts the card at various angles.

“We’re on the edge, and you can go to either [county] with the card,” said Marion Francis, administrator of the Anne Arundel County Public Library System. “That’s the beauty of it.”

Maryland is the first state to formally implement a borrowing program that unifies libraries in a statewide system, officials said. All 23 counties and Baltimore’s Enoch Pratt Free Library are involved in the effort.

Libraries across the state have been open for years to people with a card from any jurisdiction, said Irene M. Padilla, assistant state superintendent for libraries. Because that privilege has not been widely known, Miss Padilla said, it is time to call attention to it.

“This is a marketing initiative to make sure [library patrons] remember,” Miss Padilla said.

Kindergarteners from Odenton Christian School visited the West County Area Library to hear about the MPOWER card. They were joined by Maryland’s first lady, Kendel S. Ehrlich, who read the group a story, “Come Along, Daisy.”

Mrs. Ehrlich said she supported the “know no boundaries” library card in part because her family travels throughout the state.

Thousands of the cards are being shipped all over the state so public libraries can begin issuing them this week to borrowers of all ages. The initiative is timed to coincide with National Library Week.

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