The Best Small Library in America award was created in 2005 to honor libraries that meet the challenges of smaller budgets, space, technology, and collections and still find ways to bring expanded, innovative, and supportive services to their smaller communities. Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, for the past decade the award has encouraged and showcased exemplary work in libraries serving populations under 25,000. Judging criteria include creativity in developing model services and programs, innovations in public access computing, demonstrated community support, and evidence of the library’s role as community center. This year LJ looks back to see how the award has influenced the winning libraries, their communities, and their futures.
Over the last decade, Belgrade, MT, has grown and shifted from a small agricultural town to a diverse community of 12,700 in the exurbs of nearby Bozeman. In tandem, the Belgrade Community Library (BCL) has reimagined library services and aggressively developed new outreach efforts to meet the community’s changing needs. The result is intense engagement and support from the community and an impact that extends beyond Belgrade’s borders through active partnerships and state-level leadership.
The transformation of this smallest library in West Virginia convinced the judges that it is the Best Small Library in America 2013, cosponsored by Library Journal and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Though it has only a service population of 498, the activity, energy, growth, and community engagement of this library helps it rank with the state’s best and brightest. The library is directed by the dynamic Mary Beth Stenger, whose 20-hour workweek probably means she gives three times that much effort to SAPL, Lost Creek, and the surrounding area.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has raised the award levels for Library Journal’s annual Best Small Library in America Award. Now in its ninth year, the award was founded to celebrate and raise awareness of the work of libraries that demonstrate outstanding service to populations of 25,000 or less. For the 2013 award, the winning library will receive a $20,000 award, a feature story in the February 1, 2013 edition of LJ, membership and conference costs for two library representatives to attend the Public Library Association Biennial Conference in 2014 in Indianapolis, IN.
Delivering on “Yes” Smiling librarians greet you by name when you arrive at the Glen Carbon Centennial Library (GCCL), IL. After that great welcome, you notice that everyone is still smiling, and no matter whom you ask on that small staff of 15, they’ll tell you they love working there. If you probe a bit […]
Carolina Dreaming “The scene was bleak upon my family’s arrival in Union, SC, four years ago,” writes Jennifer Alexander. “The historic building was beautiful and inviting…. Our first visit was anything but…. The children’s collection was old and musty. I feared that my two-and-a-half-year-old twins were making too much noise for the quiet and seemingly […]