The Search is on for the “Best Small Library in America”

lj.jpgThe Southern Area Public Library (SAPL) in tiny Lost Creek, West Virginia, is by far the smallest of that state's 175 public libraries. It is also, in many ways, the most impressive, according to Library Journal, who named it the “Best Small Library in America” last year.

The reasons for that selection are many, but the most critical may be the strong volunteer ethic that underlies SAPL’s work. In Lost Creek, volunteers and Friends outnumber staffers ten to one. With their invaluable help, Library Director Mary Beth Stenger recently upgraded equipment, expanded inventory and services, and turned the library into the locus of community activity – all on an annual budget that most would consider “shoestring” at best.

The annual ‘Best Small Library’ distinction is bestowed annually by Library Journal and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. As the name suggests, its intent is to encourage and showcase the exemplary work of modestly-sized libraries. The winner receives $20,000, a feature story in Library Journal early in 2015, and a number of other perks.

Do you feel that your Friends efforts contribute to making your local library the ‘Best’ of its kind? Consider nominating it for the 2014 award cycle, which ends September 10.

Judging is based on a number of factors, including: creativity in developing and implementing replicable programming, availability of computers/Internet and tech support, sustained cooperation with other libraries, and evidence of the library’s long-standing value as a community center. Only public libraries with service populations under 25,000 are eligible for consideration.

For more information, including comprehensive judging criteria, and step-by-step nomination instructions, visit Library Journal online.