Mary L. Boone was appointed State Librarian of North Carolina in November 2005. Prior to coming to the State Library, Mary was a Foreign Service Library and Information Resource Officer with the United States Information Agency and the U.S. Department of State for over 20 years, from 1985 - 2005, during which time she rose to the rank of Senior Foreign Service. Her service included tours in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Washington, D.C.
From 1999-2002, Ms. Boone served as the director of the State Department's international library program, providing policy, programs and support to 175 libraries and information resource centers at U.S. embassies and consulates worldwide. Prior to joining Foreign Service, Mary served as director of the Chapel Hill Public Library from 1978 to 1985 and was a founding member of the North Carolina Public Library Directors Association. She is also a member of the North Carolina Library Association, the American Library Association, and the American Foreign Service Association.
A native of North Carolina, Mary received her BA and MSLS degrees from the School of Information and Library Science (SILS) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The SILS Alumni Association presented her with its Distinguished Alumni Award in December 2003. The North Carolina Public Library Directors Association presented her with the Library Director of the Year Award in December 2009. Mary is also the chair of the SILS Board of Visitors.
“Who would have ever thought that my MSLS from SILS would prove to be a passport to the whole world!" said Boone. "Immediately after I received my degree, I worked at the Peace Corps Library in Washington, D.C., providing research services to volunteers and staff in countries ranging from Mali to Fiji. I then moved to Germany where I worked with the U.S. Army Library Program for several years. I spent my last year at the headquarters in Heidelberg serving as the Deputy Director to the European-wide program that provided typical public library services to military personnel and their families. After seven years back in Chapel Hill, my hometown, as director of the public library, I joined the U.S. Foreign Service’s international library program. For the next 20 years I had the truly extraordinary experience of working with foreign librarians and visiting foreign libraries, living in and traveling to places I never imagined I would see. One of my most favorite memories was in Yemen, where I had a long discussion (facilitated by an Arabic translator) with the public library director in Sana’a, the capital city. Despite the vast differences in our backgrounds, languages, and cultures, we talked like a house on fire: we were in fact just two public librarians discussing common issues. That day I discovered the universality of librarianship and the strong bond that all librarians share.
"I am enormously proud to have been given the opportunity to come home to North Carolina where I now work with all types of libraries through the State Library of North Carolina," she added. "It is enormously rewarding to see the difference that the State Library’s programs can make to the public, academic and school libraries in our state. I am also very pleased to have the opportunity to be once again actively involved with SILS. As a life member of the Alumni Association, a former editor of the SILS newsletter, and now a member of the Board of Visitors, I have always had strong ties to the school, because I do believe that it was SILS – the people I met, the knowledge I gained, and the values I acquired – that made possible the incredible professional life that I have enjoyed.”