The milestones for the State Library have, for the most part, been quiet and internal, of significance–at least at first sight–only to the people most closely involved with them. But those quiet milestones have ripple effects that are, in many cases, still felt today throughout the state.
Many local libraries owe their original existence to the State Library’s careful stewardship of federal and private funds, such as money allocated by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and–early in the 20th century–the Carnegie fund. The appointment of Carrie Broughton, first as Assistant Librarian (1902), and then as State Librarian (1919), was not only a profound social shift, since she was the first female head of a state government department in NC, but also a hugely significant development for thousands of individual users of the Library, since it was she who both systematized the library collection, and also initiated what has become one of the strongest genealogy libraries in the South. Even time-limited projects such as the Library Processing Center and the IN-WATS phone reference service (both of which were initiated in the 1950s and 60s, and phased out by the 1990s), provided innovative and much needed support for county and city libraries–and their patrons–by centralizing critical tasks such as cataloging and in depth reference service, thus allowing individual institutions to focus on local service.