Tennessee’s Nashville Public Library (NPL) has been named the 2017 Library of the Year by Library Journal magazine and Gale, a Cengage company. The Library of the Year is a prestigious honor awarded to a library that demonstrates profound service to community, creativity, leadership, and innovation in developing community programs. Nashville Public Library stands out for its ability to bring stories, reading, and learning to life to educate the community–from the youngest learners through adults.
“This is an honor for our library, for our dedicated staff, and for Nashville and Davidson County,” said Kent Oliver, Nashville Public Library Director. “I want to thank our patrons, elected officials, employees, volunteers, the Nashville Public Library Foundation, the Friends of the Library, and all our supporters.
This award reflects our commitment to our community. Nashville Public Library helps meet the challenges and embrace the opportunities we face as our city continues to grow. We are committed to helping shape education, economic development, and community growth for everyone.”
Nashville Public Library serves a community of nearly 700,000 residents through its 21 locations across the city. With a staff of more than 350, plus almost 600 volunteers, the library has encouraged more than 3.3 million visits and answered nearly 300,000 questions over the last year. These statistics reflect an impressive level of engagement by its users, but more importantly, lead to learning outcomes for the Nashville community. The library fosters a love of reading and learning through innovative storytelling programs that incorporate the city’s history. Through its renowned Civil Rights Room and Collection, its citywide book club” Nashville Reads” and the Bringing Books to Life! initiative, the library is able to use stories to engage the community in learning.
“Great libraries find compelling solutions to the challenges in their communities. Nashville Public Library stands out for its range of services, innovation in partnerships, and commitment to evolving as its community does, while keeping a keen eye on what’s important from the past,” said Rebecca T. Miller, editorial director of Library Journal. “We are very excited to have Nashville join the stellar Library of the Year roster.”
Nashville Public Library has a strong partnership with Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) to put public library materials and technology into students’ hands. The Limitless Libraries initiative has infused millions of dollars into school libraries and helped local schools meet or exceed state collection requirements. The initiative has funded the buildout of several school libraries into vibrant, engaging, and creative spaces for students to learn. Limitless Libraries has become a national model for cities considering similar deep partnerships between schools and public libraries.
Nashville Public Library has also focused on closing a material digital divide within the community – more than one in ten Tennesseans don’t have access to the Internet and more than 40 percent of students don’t have access to the Internet or computers at home. In addition to providing basic digital infrastructure, the library offers numerous outreach services to the neediest populations and at-risk communities.
“Now, more than ever, it’s important to demonstrate the wide-reaching impact libraries have on the education, health, and economy of the communities they serve,” said Harmony Faust, vice president of marketing for Gale. “Through creative programs and strategic initiatives that touch everyone in the community, Nashville Public Library is a stellar example of the important work public libraries do.”
The 2017 Library of the Year Award will be presented, along with $10,000 in prize money, at a reception during the American Library Association Annual Conference in Chicago, IL, on June 25.