ASTC members Pacific Science Center in Seattle, Washington; Bootheel Youth Museum in Malden, Missouri; and Long Island Children’s Museum in Garden City, New York, were among the 10 libraries and museums selected by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to receive the 2012 National Medal for Museum and Library Service. The National Medal is the nation’s highest honor for museums and libraries for extraordinary civic, educational, economic, environmental, and social contributions. Recipients must demonstrate innovative approaches to public service and community outreach.
“Museums and libraries serve as community anchors and this year’s winners—from urban North Miami to Naturita, Colorado, home to just 542 people—showcase the positive difference these institutions make for everyone. Innovative programs are teaching residents how to read late in life, inspiring children to dream, using technology to offer e-books on the go, and bridging cultural differences,” said Susan Hildreth, director, Institute of Museum and Library Services. “This year’s National Medal for Museum and Library Service recipients demonstrate the many ways libraries and museums build strong communities and provide opportunities for individual success.”
Pacific Science Center seeks to go beyond just teaching guests about science. In recognizing this institution, IMLS highlighted several programs and initiatives, including: the Portal to the Public program, which connects the public with cutting-edge science by training scientists to demonstrate and explain their research; Discovery Corps, which gets students excited about the world around them and teaches invaluable job and life skills; and Professor Wellbody’s Academy of Health & Science, which emphasizes not an accumulation of health facts but the impact of personal choices in building healthier lives.
The Bootheel Youth Museum (BYM) is located in a city with a population of 4,277, and has only three full-time and three part-time staff members, and some volunteers. Yet it entertains, educates, and inspires “insatiable curiosity” in 30,000 visitors each year. The museum combines sound science and a thirst for adventure with innovative exhibits like BYM Children’s Village, This Island Mars: A Space Adventure, and Making Tracks on the Lewis and Clark Trail.
The Long Island Children’s Museum delights more than 250,000 visitors annually with its hands-on exhibits and is a gathering place for the local community. It offers a wide range of programming to meet the needs of its diverse audience. Community focused initiatives provide kindergarten readiness programs to Spanish and Haitian Creole speaking immigrant families; share the Museum’s resources with teachers to engage their students in scientific inquiry; support families in crisis through strategies encouraging healthy parent and child interactions; and engage teens to teach “green” lessons to visitors in the Museum’s popular outdoor exhibit, Our Backyard.
The National Medal was created to celebrate the vital role museums and libraries play in American society, and is awarded to institutions that have developed innovative ways to serve their communities. In addition to the Pacific Science Center, Bootheel Youth Museum, and Long Island Children’s Museum, 2012 recipients included: Contra Costa County Library, Pleasant Hill, California; Cumberland County Public Library, Fayetteville, North Carolina; Garfield Park Conservatory, Chicago, Illinois; Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami, Florida; Naturita Community Library, Colorado; Park View High School Library Media Center, Sterling, Virginia; and Shaler North Hills Library, Glenshaw, Pennsylvania.
Medal winners are selected from nationwide nominations of institutions that demonstrate innovative approaches to public service, exceeding the expected levels of community outreach. The National Medal will be presented during a celebration later today in Washington, D.C.
To learn more about this year’s winners, visit www.imls.gov/medals.