The Meridian Library District has been awarded on a national scale for its work in the community.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services announced on Tuesday the library district is one of 10 recipients of the 2019 National Medal for Museum and Library Service. The award, first given out 25 years ago, is given to museums and libraries that make a significant and exceptional contribution to their communities.

Only one other Idaho institution has won the award in the past 10 years, according to Erica Jaros, spokeswoman for the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The Weippe Public Library & Discovery Center in Weippe, Idaho, was a recipient in 2011.

The Meridian Library District serves one of the fastest-growing cities in Idaho and focuses its efforts on enriching lives, igniting curiosity and cultivating connections, the release said.

“In our interviews we talked about our service philosophy: hold doors open,” MLD Director Gretchen Caserotti said during a presentation on Tuesday. “We have an embedded librarianship model, serving our patrons from within the community, not just the library walls.”

The district was recognized for its unique services to the community — like its bookmobile, which travels around the community bringing the library’s services to patrons. They were also recognized for the innovative work they’ve done with the Tiny Library, a shipping container staff repurposed into a library for young learners ages five and under.

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“MLD’s branches are dynamic community centers that allow Meridian residents to come together around shared goals and interests,” a release from the Institute of Museum and Library Services said. “The operating budget for the district isn’t large, but the collaborative energy of its staff far exceeds its limited resources.”

The library district was selected from 30 national finalists, and each winner represents an institution that provides dynamic programming and services that exceed expected levels of service, the release said.

“When someone first visits one of our branches and is amazed by how much is going on, that’s because we’ve worked hard to offer something for everyone,” Caserotti said in the release. “By offering a wide array of programs, we are better fulfilling our commitment to the community.”

As part of the ceremony and celebration, Meridian community member Greg Kunz will travel to Washington, D.C., with Caserotti to accept the national medal on June 12 on behalf of the Meridian Library District. Kunz will provide a personal account of how the library has made a difference. Kunz began using the library’s CNC (computer numeric control) machine a little over three years ago. Since then he has started a small business selling the key chains online and giving them to family and friends.

For Kunz, the library is his second home, where he brings his grandchildren with him and spends his weekends volunteering and teaching classes, the release said.

“This award is a great honor, and I expect libraries across the country will look to the Meridian Library as an example of a thriving knowledge base to mimic in their own community,” U.S. Rep. Russ Fulcher, R-Idaho, said in a letter to attendees of the Tuesday event. “The Motto of Meridian, Idaho is: ‘Built for business… designed for living.’ Now we can add ‘best library service in the country’ to that motto.”

Patty Bowen is the Meridian Press reporter. You can reach her at pbowen@idahopress.com or follow her on Twitter @pattybowenMP.

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