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A Man and a Library Share a 30-Year Anniversary

Omowali AliThis year, The Walter P. Carter Memorial Library is celebrating an anniversary of 30th illustrious years. The 30th annum brings with it unprecedented growth and expansion for the library. It has grown from a personal collection of 4,500 books to more than 18,000 books and periodicals in circulation this year.

The library has also grown from just a functional reading room that measured 22x30 feet to its current expanse of over 3000 square feet. The Carter Library serves as the host library for all six Sojourner-Douglass College locations including the Bahamas campus.

Despite being thousands of miles apart, the library's current technology allows students from all six campuses to use the library's resources. The Maryland Digital Library provides academic access to over 20 different databases for every campus.

While much has changed at The Walter P. Carter Library, one important element has remained the same. Omowali Ali, the master librarian who has helped to oversee the library's international outreach over the past 30 years, continues to manage one of the College's most important assets.

“I remember to this day when Dr. Charles Simmons, who is still the S-DC President, paid me $20 to help transport some books over to the school,” said Ali of his humble beginnings at the S-DC library. “And from that meager beginning, a career as a librarian blossomed for me.”

In Ali´s thirty-year career, he has gone from helping a few students in the library's old multi-purpose room on North Caroline Street to helping hundreds of students at its present North Central Avenue location. Currently, 60% of the Colleges 3500 students make use of the S-DC main library through either digitally or in person, according to Ali.

In the next thirty years, Ali predicts that the library will expand its reach through the Maryland Digital Library and become the hub of S-DC's international network of campuses much like the great library of Alexandria was the center of knowledge for the ancient world.

Ali's main goal is to provide resource materials for every student, regardless of the specific curriculum or the obscure nature of the information needed. Ali says that every time a student visits this facility, “My goal is to teach people something in the library that they didn't know when they came here.”

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