Booth Library is finalist for national award

Booth Library has been selected as one of the 30 finalists, 15 of which are libraries, to receive the national medal for museum and library service from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

The winners of the award will be announced in late April and will be given the medal May 8 in Washington D.C., likely by First Lady Michelle Obama, as it was done last year. They will also be awarded $5,000 in recognition of their “extraordinary community contributions,” according to a press release.

There will be only five medals given out for libraries.

The institute is the primary source of federal funding for libraries and museums across the country. Allen Lanham, the dean of Library Services, said it is the agency that works on programs and giving support to the 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. They have been giving out these awards for 20 years.

“We applied for this particular award and we based it on the ‘America’s Music program series,’” Lanham said.

This was the first time they applied for this because it was “perfect” for the requirements for the award, which was having programs that brought people into the library or museum and that focused on humanities, Lanham said.

Lanham said Booth is one of the finalists because of their work on “America’s Music: a Film History of our Popular Music from Blues to Bluegrass to Broadway,” a series of programs and exhibits focused around six different genres of American music. These included jazz, gospel, rock, bluegrass, Latino and Broadway.

The exhibit, which went on during the course of spring semester last year, encompassed different areas. A concert both kicked off and closed down the exhibit, serving as bookends. The concerts featured the different genres of music. During the semester, community members had a chance to delve farther into the genre with different seminars set up to help educate on each specific genre.

According to the press release, the institute is encouraging community members who have visited Booth Library to “share their story” on the institute’s Facebook page. Each of the finalists will be highlighted on a specific day. Booth will be honored March 18.

“This is like the academy awards for libraries and museums,” Lanham said. “It is important because of the publicity it generates for Eastern Illinois University, Booth Library and it recognizes the hard work done by the faculty and staff. It merits national attention.”

Jarad Jarmon can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]