Library Director cites county struggles in planned exit

Ashley Teagle, Executive Director of the Wicomico Public Library, will leave Oct. 23, after less than two years on the job.

Her decision to accept a new position with a regional library system was based in part on ongoing funding struggles and tension between the library and county officials.

Ashley Teagle.

“It’s been a frustrating time,” she said, noting that Wicomico County has the lowest-funded library in Maryland.

Struggles between the library board and the county have been ongoing for a number of years, even before Teagle arrived.

In 2016, library officials refused to allow then-County Executive Bob Culver access to space on the lower level of the Downtown branch to store voting machines.

Culver set a deadline to vacate 3,300 square feet in the Entrepreneur Center, but the Board of Trustees refused to give keys or access codes to county staff. The trustees eventually won the battle, but the tensions continued.

Teagle recently weather a storm of questions and controversy surrounding an event planned for the Pittsville Library, which would have included a book-reading performed by a drag queen who tours libraries and bookstores nationwide. The event was canceled.

Aside from problems with the county, the Covid-19 pandemic has created more challenges for the staff. Currently, the library is closed to the public, but patrons can request books and other materials through a Books To Go program that offers curbside pickup without interacting with library staff members.

Beginning Tuesday, Oct. 13, the library will reopen by appointment, which will require additional cleaning and personal protection equipment for staff. 

Teagle started the job in Wicomico in January 2019 after having served as Branch Manager of the Waldorf West Branch of the Charles County Public Library in southern Maryland.

She replaced Andrea Berstler, who left in late 2018 to head up the Carroll County Library system.

Teagle grew up in Salisbury and relocated to Southern Maryland to begin her career as a librarian. She has worked as a public services librarian, reference supervisor, and branch manager in Charles County.

Teagle earned her Master’s in Library and Information Science from the University of Southern Mississippi and a Bachelor’s in English and Communications Arts is from Hood College in Frederick, Md.

She is an active member of the American Library Association and the Maryland Library Association where she serves on the Leadership Development Division.

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