The Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library (TSCPL), KS, is engaged in every discussion in its community. In fact, it is usually leading them. The library is central to local deliberations and changes; creates leaders; and uplifts the community it serves. The way the library has become a major force for its constituents in the city of Topeka and throughout Shawnee County sets a bar for all libraries and has earned TSCPL the 2016 Gale/LJ Library of the Year Award.
As last summer waned, the library in Ferguson, MO, seemed an unlikely source for a most inspiring illustration of librarianship in action. The library was running on a shoestring budget, and the new director (and sole full-time employee) had taken over scant weeks before. But when that community was wracked by violent protest in the wake of the August 9 death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown, who was shot by a police officer, the library emerged as a critical asset, staying open and creating programs on the fly to respond to the turmoil. The library countered the chaos and fear with calm reassurance that the people of Ferguson were supported by a shared resource that was also a “quiet oasis”—a safe place to be, to recover their bearings, but also to learn more about what was happening and why.
The Ferguson Municipal Public Library (FMPL), MO, became a model for all libraries in the way it reacted to the crisis and the aftermath of riots brought on by the shooting of Michael Brown, a young African American man, by local police. FMPL was the one agency in town that stayed open to serve and support all the people of Ferguson. The library quickly became a safe haven and expressed a peaceful resolve, becoming a critical community anchor.
When the Edmonton Public Library (EPL) in Alberta, Canada was named the Gale/Library Journal 2014 Library of the Year, the staff knew they’d made history, becoming the first library outside of the United States to take home that honor. Turns out, Edmontonians know how to party, and they sent us some images from the celebration, which featured party favors, foam fingers, and of course, story time for the kids. Because no matter how big the honor you have to accept, nothing gets in the way of story time.
For 101 years, Alberta’s Edmonton Public Library (EPL) has galvanized its ever-growing city. From its beginnings above a meat and liquor store in 1913 to its current configuration as a massive, team-driven enterprise, EPL has served as a pioneering gathering place, connecting people and expanding minds. In the process, it changed the parameters of what it means to be a public library and transformed itself. Having the spirit and creativity to do that meant taking risks, innovating, and embracing change. It made EPL a model for all public libraries and the winner of the 2014 Gale/Library Journal Library of the Year Award.
There’s a reason that the Howard County Library System, MD (HCLS) is the Gale/LJ 2013 Library of the Year—an incredible focus on user experience and staff development that enables each worker to invest in the success of the library. It’s a case study for academic librarians who want to take things to the next level of service and community engagement.
ALA Annual Conference Day Three: First Time Authors, Top Tech Trends, Library of the Year | ALA 2013
“We deliver high-quality education for all ages,” says the simple, direct mission statement of the library system. Its position as an integral member of the county education system was coupled with the effort by CEO and president Valerie Gross to use “words that work” to describe the jobs of HCLS staffers, the services they provide, and the vision and mandate of the library. They all combine to provide a brand that has made HCLS a crucial county asset and a new model for libraries everywhere. This championing of community alignment, as well as many other impressive endeavors, makes HCLS the 2013 Gale/LJ Library of the Year—a well-supported, sustainable 21st-century library system from which others can and do take inspiration.
After some fabulous sessions, exhibits, and author signings (and a fire alarm at the convention center), the day concluded with the Gale/Library Journal Library of the Year award reception in honor of San Diego County Library. See below for some of the highlights, and and stay tuned for more live reports from #ala12.
As the dimensions of the housing crisis became clear to the management team of the San Diego County Library (SDCL), under the direction of Jose Aponte, they moved the library, knowing it was a trusted organization, into the breach. The libraries actions in that area and many others have won many awards and also serves as a prime example of why SDCL is the Gale/LJ 2012 Library of the Year.