Rochester, MN  (KROC AM News) - It’s a happy day at the Rochester Public Library.

It has been named a winner of the 2018 National Medal of Museum and Library Service, one of only ten in the whole country to be honored.

This is the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries for community service by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. RPL is only the fourth Minnesota library to win the award in 24 years.

It was a finalist for the award last year.

“We’re incredibly honored to be recognized for our innovative approaches to removing barriers, “said Library Director Audrey Betcher, adding, “The National Medal recognizes RPL’s dedication to equity and providing welcoming spaces for all community members. We strive to listen and respond so that every member of our community has the opportunity to succeed.”

The award will be presented at an event at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C., on May 24.

As part of the ceremony and celebration, community member James Arnold will travel with Library Director Audrey Betcher to accept the National Medal on behalf of the library and provide a personal account of the power the library has had in the community. Since he was a child, 17-year-old Arnold 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. And when Arnold first identified as transgender, the library provided him a safe space to explore his identity.

“The best thing about the library is its commitment to serving the entire community even if it’s part of the community that typically doesn’t have a voice. And I think that is a very beautiful thing,” said Arnold.

This is the second cause for celebration for the Rochester Public Library this year. Its Head of Youth Services, Heather Acerro, was honored as one of the 2018 Movers and Shakers.

Here is the list of the 2018 National Medal of Museum and Library Service winners:

Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus (Denver, CO)
The Detroit Historical Society (Detroit, MI)
El Paso Museum of Art (El Paso, TX)
Georgetown Public Library (Georgetown, TX)
History Museum at the Castle (Appleton, WI)
Orange County Library System (Orlando, FL)
Pueblo City-County Library District (Pueblo, CO)
Reading Public Library (Reading, PA)
Rochester Public Library (Rochester, MN)
University of Oregon’s Museum of Natural and Cultural History (Eugene, OR)

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's approximately 120,000 libraries and 35,000 museums and related organizations.


News update: Rochester’s April was the coldest and snowiest on record.

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