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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The LibraryAware Community Award 2015 Winners

Dothan Houston County staffers accept their award.
Photo courtesy of Library Journal and NoveList.
Three libraries have won the 2015 LibraryAware Community Award, which recognizes libraries’ engagement with their communities.

+ Dothan Houston County Library System in Alabama won first place ($10,000).
+ Saint Paul (Minn.) Public Library won second place ($7,500).
+ Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library in Kansas won third place ($5,000).

These annual awards are given by Library Journal and are underwritten by LibraryAware, a product of the NoveList division of EBSCO Information Services. The award “recognizes model communities that engage with their libraries to improve the lives of their citizens and create life-long learners,” according to the press release. The M Word's Nancy Dowd is LibraryAware's Product Manager, and got to travel the country to present the awards. 

Dothan Houston County Library System exemplified this goal. It saw “overwhelming change” in the last 5 years after members of its community came forward with an idea to revitalize their county, starting with the library. Funded by donations and driven by community input, the library system was “transformed into a resource that the whole community supports and uses. With two new locations in growing parts of the community and a renewed emphasis on programming and providing new technologies, their door counts are up threefold, from 800 per day in 2010 to 2,500 in 2014.”

“Dothan Houston County Library System illustrates what can be achieved when a community recognizes the value of a strong library system, and a library responds to the priorities of its community,” Rebecca T. Miller, editorial director of Library Journal and School Library Journal, explained in the press release.

Saint Paul Public Library, in conjunction with its Friends group, was recognized for raising its profile and for offering programs that support priorities that community members identified, including racial equality, digital literacy, and workforce development.

Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library demonstrated long-term thinking in working with community residents and facilitating growth by having library staff members serve on community advisory boards, train others as facilitators, and work to provide regionwide broadband access, among other initiatives.

The LibraryAware Community Award is given annually to a community of any size and its library. Criteria include any and all components that create a LibraryAware community: strategic planning, marketing, outreach, or partnerships, along with program, product, or service development. Submission details and criteria are here, and all the info about this year’s winners is in an article in Library Journal.

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