Ames Free Library Ranked One of Top Small Libraries in Country
The Easton Library was named a top three finalist for the Best Small Library in America Competition, earning the library a $5,000 grant.
The Ames Free Library announced Tuesday that it was selected as a finalist for the 2011 Best Small Library in America competition by Library Journal and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The library joined the ranks of Page Public Library in Arizona and Naturita Community Library in Colorado. Naturita Community Library won the top prize.
The ranking in the top three earned the library a $5,000 grant and the opportunity for three members of the library to attend a gala reception at the Public Libraries Association conference in Philadelphia in 2012.
According to a press release from the library, libraries eligible for the award must be based in towns with populations under 25,000 people. The statement said the ranking is given “to encourage and showcase the exemplary work of libraries serving populations under 25,000.”
“We are honored to help recognize these innovative libraries, which have excelled at understanding and meeting the needs of their communities,” said Jill Nishi, Deputy Director of U.S. Libraries and Special Initiatives at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in a statement. “They serve as remarkable examples of how libraries can develop and sustain the critical services their communities need, including high-quality technology and Internet access.”
The Ames Free Library is funded mostly by endowments, according to library Assistant Director Uma Hiremath. 40% of library services are funded by the town of Easton. Over the past year, "where the community connects" has become the slogan of the library, which has worked toward becoming a central meeting place in town.
The library has launched programs such as "Easton Reads Together" and a new "Author Meet and Greet Series" that launches Feb. 8 night when Bob Halloran, author of Irish Thunder visits the library.
Halloran's book was the basis behind the recent movie The Fighter, which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Film.
Additionally, over the past year, Ames Free Library has created a larger campus, using the Queset House next door as a community gathering place, and revitalizing Queset Gardens behind the library.
Library Director Madeline Holt said in a statement that it had been a goal of hers to secure the grant since she took over in 2008. She said the library will announce a community-wide celebration in the near future to celebrate the event.