Public Library to Be Honored at the White House

Michelle Obama will present an award to 10 libraries and museums today

click to enlarge L to R: William J. Moran (President - Board of Trustees), Amina Tuki (library patron) and Kim L. Fender (The Eva Jane Romaine Coombe Director)
L to R: William J. Moran (President - Board of Trustees), Amina Tuki (library patron) and Kim L. Fender (The Eva Jane Romaine Coombe Director)

At a White House ceremony this afternoon, First Lady Michelle Obama will present the 2013 National Medal for Museum and Library Service to The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County and nine additional libraries and museums. She will join Institute of Museum and Library Services Director Susan Hildreth in recognizing 10 exceptional institutions making important contributions to their communities and implementing creative approaches to outreach and public service.

Obama will present the award to the directors and local community members of these institutions, highlighting the impact each facility has had on individual lives and community growth. The National Medal is the nation’s highest honor conferred upon libraries and museums for service to individuals, families and communities.

Recipients are selected from an extensive list of nationwide nominations of libraries and museums exceeding the average standards of community outreach.

This year, the 10 diverse institutions represent seven states and include outstanding facilities such as a Santa Ana, Calif., science center; a Boston, Mass., children’s museum; a Clarksdale, Miss. Blues museum dedicated to exploring the unique musical genre; a Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Czech and Slovak museum that successfully re-emerged after a catastrophic flood in June 2008; and various public and county library systems. Representing The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County are The Eva Jane Romaine Coombe Director Kimber L. Fender and library patron Amina Tuki. The award will recognize the value the library has brought to the Cincinnati and surrounding community as well as its dedication and innovation in the field of public service.

Later this year, StoryCorps — a nonprofit committed to recording, sharing and celebrating a diverse array of American voices — will visit each of the winning institutions to collect information and personalized stories from individuals of the honored communities. The organization, founded in 2003, has pioneered such initiatives asthe  Military Voices Initiative, the National Teachers Initiative, the September 11th Initiative and the Memory Loss Initiative, and continues to celebrate its National Day of Listening (NDL), which takes place the day after Thanksgiving as a noncommercial alternative to “Black Friday” shopping mania. Their upcoming focus on libraries and museums across the country could serve as a contender for the NDL theme this November.

With its 21,000 programs, workshops and classes, The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County stands out among 140,000 libraries and museums across the United States. There is no word yet on what immediate effects this award will have on the local community, but a library spokesperson attributes the honor to its patrons and visitors, saying, “It’s because of your commitment to the Library that gives us the privilege of saying we’re one of the busiest and best library systems in the nation. This award belongs to all of us.”

The ceremony will be streamed live beginning at 1:30 p.m.

Follow The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County on Facebook for photos and updates.

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