ESPL History and Organization

Library services on the Eastern Shore began in 1957 as a demonstration project of the Commonwealth of Virginia, located in the Town of Accomac’s Community Hall. In 1958, the Boards of Supervisors of Accomack and Northampton Counties adopted resolutions creating a regional public library in accordance with the provisions of Virginia law governing libraries. The existing main library building was built in 1964 and expanded in 1982. In 2008, Accomack and Northampton entered into a Regional Library Agreement setting forth terms of governance and support for the Library. The Agreement provides that the management and control of the Library is vested in a Board of Trustees consisting of nine members, six of whom are appointed by Accomack County and three of whom are appointed by Northampton County.  As a Virginia regional library, the Eastern Shore Public Library is a political subdivision of Virginia, and while the Treasurer of Accomack County is the Treasurer of the Library, the Library is not a division of county government. It owns the real estate in Accomac and Nassawadox where the main library and the branch are located, and its employees are employees of the Library, not the counties.

Under Virginia law, most of the funds for operating a public library come from the localities. Under the Regional Library Agreement, Accomack and Northampton Counties have agreed to allocate the expenses of the Library based on the population of the counties. These expenses are currently allocated at 75% to Accomack County and 25% to Northampton County. A portion of Library expenses is funded by the Commonwealth of Virginia, based on population and square miles of territory.

The Eastern Shore Public Library has two branches, the main library in Accomac and the Northampton Free Library in Nassawadox. In addition the Library has cooperative agreements with the Cape Charles Memorial Library, owned by the Town of Cape Charles, and the Chincoteague Island Library, Inc., a non-profit corporation.  The main library provides all the technical services for all four libraries, including ordering, cataloging and processing of materials, as well as interlibrary loans and a courier service for distribution of materials. The materials in all four libraries are included in a joint catalog and are available to cardholders at any of the libraries.

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