submitted by Christi Buker, PA Library Association Executive Director

Each year, the Pennsylvania Library Association (PaLA) honors the service of their members, as well as those community volunteers, who go above and beyond the call of duty to support the work of libraries throughout the commonwealth.

On Tuesday, October 27, the 2020 Library of the Year was recognized.

The Pennsylvania Library Association is pleased to present the 2020 Library of the Year Award to the Memorial Library of Nazareth and Vicinity, located in Nazareth, Pennsylvania.

This award is presented to a library that excels in service to its community, prioritizes staff development, and provides leadership in, and support of the Pennsylvania Library Association.

The Memorial Library of Nazareth and Vicinity has shown remarkable resilience, innovation, perseverance, optimism, and demonstrated they are a cornerstone in the community.  Facing an uncertain financial future in 2019, library leadership embarked on a mission to coach local municipal officials about the benefits and essential role of the public library.   The methods used to enforce this messaging included data-driven presentations delivered to municipal leaders and large public audiences, personal library tours, and a media campaign. Despite their exemplary efforts, the MLNV sustained a loss of over $56,000.00 in municipal funding.  In response to this loss there were changes and reductions in staff, services, materials and programs.  Meanwhile, an army of community members recognizing the importance and value of their public library formed a grassroots initiative to lead the charge to protect the long-term sustainability of the MLNV.  Then the pandemic hit.  The library was forced to re-evaluate its service model, challenge an age-diverse staff to rely on technology to work remotely, and encourage creativity in service delivery.  Staff made phone calls to “regulars”, delivered porch drop-offs, and participated in many professional development opportunities.  In the midst of the pandemic, voters passed a referendum resulting in a library tax which secured approximately $100,000.00 in library funding for the foreseeable future.

The MLNV staff and leadership team including Holly Bennett and Catherine Stewart serve the Pennsylvania Library Association with representation on the Legislative Committee, Best Practices Committee, Annual Conference Planning Committee, and the Lehigh Valley Chapter’s Nominations Committee. The library covers the membership dues for their staff.  In 2019 the MLNV became a PA Forward™ Gold Star Library, and that star is certainly shining brightly today.

“Our members and libraries have been doing amazing things, particularly during this pandemic” said Michele Legate, 2020 President of the Pennsylvania Library Association.  “It is so important to take a little time to recognize the incredible work that our colleagues have done.”


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