Letter: National medal recognizes library service

Most Cedar Rapids citizens are aware of our world-class Cedar Rapids Public Library. Now the rest of the country will be too. The library has been selected as a finalist for the prestigious National Medal for Museum and Library Service — the nation’s highest honor (the Oscar!) for institutions that make significant, exceptional contributions to their communities.

This isn’t an architectural award. We’ve already received several national awards for our beautiful, energy-efficient downtown library building. The National Medal recognizes something we should be even more proud of: the exceptional way the library serves our community. Let me count some of the innovative ways it does that:

l Leading community literacy campaigns such as the Take on Literacy challenge and partnerships with the Reading into Success program to address grade level reading deficiencies.

l Initiating a summer learning outreach program with the Metro YMCA (Summer Dare Everywhere) which brings the library to kids with barriers to access.

l Deploying staff to Red Cross shelters and community centers during the 2016 flood to provide stories, resources, and companionship to displaced citizens. (Yes, our library staff did that for us when they could have simply hung a closed sign on the door.)

l Facilitating a micro loan program (MICRO) that connects patrons with short-term small business loans to help grow local businesses.

These and many more community-driven programs are offered in addition to the personal service the library delivers daily. I encourage you to take a fresh look at our library. It’s a winner for all of us.

Jade DeLang Hart

Cedar Rapids

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