Washington, DC (KROC-AM News) - Rochester Public Library Director Audrey Boettcher was accompanied by James Arnold of Rochester on the stage at an awards ceremony this afternoon in Washington DC.

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The pair traveled to the nation’s capital to be presented with the 2018 National Medal of Museum and Library Service. It’s the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries for community service by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

The Rochester Public Library’s application for the prestigious award featured Arnold’s personal account of his experiences. Since he was a child, the 17-year-old has used the library as a safe space to develop his passion for writing. As an eighth-grader, he joined the Teen Library Council and had a hand in planning programs for his peers, as well as for younger children. When Arnold first identified as transgender, he says the library provided him a safe space to explore his identity.

The award is presented annually to ten libraries and museums throughout the U.S. This marked only the fourth time since the creation of the awards program 24 years that a Minnesota institution has received the honor.

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