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The Cedar Rapids Public Library wins the nation’s highest honor for museums and libraries


Cedar Rapids Public Library. — photo by Louis

Out of over 100,000 public libraries in the United States, the Cedar Rapids Public Library is in the top of its class. The Cedar Rapids Public Library has been awarded the 2017 National Medal for Museum and Library Service and shares this honor with only four other libraries and five museums across the country.

Awarded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the National Medal for Museum and Library Services honors libraries and museums specifically for their service to community.

“I can tell you it’s amazing to learn about the work being done at the other winning libraries,” said Amber Mussman, Community Relations Manager for the Cedar Rapids Public Library. “Cedar Rapids has a unique story to tell about resiliency and community-building, and that definitely sets us apart. We have overcome so much as a community and now the work we do is entirely focused on our strategic goals. We have taken the opportunity which was the result of so much devastation to become a community-driven library. It’s amazing to see the results of that.”

As a medal winner, the Cedar Rapids Public Library will work with the IMLS and popular storytelling nonprofit StoryCorps to document personal stories that demonstrate the ongoing impact of the library’s services and programs on the community.

“All of our library’s services and programs that meet our community’s needs earned the recognition,” said Charity Tyler, Executive Director of the Cedar Rapids Public Library Foundation. “Our library’s response to the September 2016 flood, our Summer Dare program, preschool outreach program and collaboration with Family Connections definitely play into it.”

The community-driven mission of the library is at the heart of this award, according to Cedar Rapids Public Library Director Dara Schmidt. A ceremony will be held in Washington, D.C. honoring the 2017 medal recipients. Schmidt will travel to D.C. to receive the award along with a member of the Cedar Rapids community. The community member will be chosen from among those interviewed by the IMLS — a person whose story, in the context of the library’s impact, is especially compelling.


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