Library Branch Renaming Planned

SALISBURY – The downtown branch of Wicomico Public Libraries will be renamed in honor of the late U.S. Sen. Paul Sarbanes.

On Tuesday, the Wicomico County Council voted unanimously to rename the downtown library the Wicomico County Public Libraries – Paul S. Sarbanes Branch.

Wicomico Public Libraries Board of Trustees Chair Michele Canopii said a suggestion to rename the downtown branch came before the board late last year, shortly after Sarbanes’ death on Dec. 6.

“The discussion didn’t take long,” she told the council in a public hearing this week. “The Sarbanes name is synonymous with integrity, respect for others, hard work and commitment.”

Sarbanes – a Salisbury native and Wicomico High School graduate – served as a member of the Maryland House of Delegates from 1967 to 1971, the U.S. House of Representatives from 1971 to 1977 and the U.S. Senate from 1977 to 2007. During his political career, he drafted and introduced the first articles of impeachment against President Richard Nixon and sponsored the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, reforming federal securities laws amid corporate accounting scandals.

Several community members and former classmates this week also highlighted Sarbanes’ academic achievements. After graduating from Princeton University, he attended Balliol College as a Rhodes Scholar before moving on to Harvard Law School.

“Paul exemplifies what everyone thinks of as the American dream,” said former classmate Nevins Todd. “It was no question that Paul was the superior student. He went from WiHi to Princeton, he got a Rhodes Scholarship and Harvard Law degree, and from there he ultimately became a United States senator for 30 years. That’s an incredible record. I think it’s an honor that we consider naming the library for him.”

As children of Greek immigrants, Anthony Sarbanes said he hoped his brother’s story of achieving the “American dream” would inspire future generations that come through the library’s doors.

“He served at a time when people honestly talked to each other and got things done. He did a lot of things to help the state of Maryland …,” he said of his brother. “He provided personal service to people who had problems, and that’s what it’s all about when you get right down to it.”

The council this week voted 7-0 to approve a resolution renaming the downtown branch. In a memo to council members, Canopii said supporters of the name change have volunteered to fund the creation and installation of a plaque at the entrance of the library.

“I want to thank the people from the library and the citizens that spoke on behalf of Senator Sarbanes,” Councilman Bill McCain said. “I think that was a very nice gesture we were able to do to recognize the family. I know it meant a lot to his family and a lot to his friends and community members that knew him well.”

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.