Nashville Public Library has won the nation’s top prize for libraries and museums. The library’s director will soon head to the White House to receive the Institute for Museum and Library Services’ National Medal. Only five libraries will receive the award this year.
Nashville Library Director Donna Nicely grins broadly as she calls the medal a “once in a lifetime” prize.
She says it recognizes programs that extend into the community, like letting teachers and students check out the public library’s books through their schools or sending puppet troupes into day care centers. It also honors her staff’s wide-ranging efforts to familiarize Nashvilians with the cultures of the city’s’ immigrant groups. And Nicely says it’s a seal of approval for attempts to make each branch library more than just a place to study.
“We’ve evolved into a thriving, vibrant community center of life. I like to think of it as our civic living room. And so we respond to what the community enjoys about literature and learning and education.”
The Institute is also giving Nashville’s library additional recognition for a series of exchanges with Magdeberg, Germany. The special relationship began because the German city has a long tradition of puppetry, as does the library. It deepened when the library sent an exhibit about Nashville’s Civil Rights struggle to Magdeberg and exhibited one here about the fall of the Berlin Wall.
The medal comes with a week’s visit from Story Corps and a 10-thousand dollar prize. Nicely says she’ll visit every branch library this week to thank and congratulate each staff member in person.