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PWPL takes top national honor

Marquette facility awarded National Medal for Museum and Library Service

November 16, 2010
By CLAIRE ABENT Journal Staff Writer

MARQUETTE - Peter White Public Library has received the prestigious 2010 National Medal for Museum and Library Service.

Only five libraries and five museums across the country are selected each year to receive the award - the nation's highest honor for museums and libraries which make extraordinary civic, educational, economic, environmental and social contributions. The award is presented by the Institute of Museum and Library Service.

The announcement was made during a breakfast ceremony today at the library by Steve Syrja, the regional manager for U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow. The library will be presented with the medal during a ceremony next year in Washington, D.C. The medal also comes with a $10,000 award and a visit from Public Radio's StoryCorps. Winners are selected every year following an open nomination process and based on the recommendations of the National Museum and Library Services Board.

Article Photos

Peter White Public Library Director Pam Christensen accepts recognition of the 2010 National Medal for Museum and Library Service from Steve Syrja, regional manager for U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing. (Journal photo by Claire Abent)

PWPL was noted for providing programs to promote acceptance and engaging people from all walks of life, informing the community, advocating the arts and culture and partnering with other community organizations and the City of Marquette.

"We work with many local organizations, but none is as important to us as the city of Marquette and the Marquette Arts and Culture Center. This partnership has truly set us apart from other libraries in the nation. And we hear that again and again and again," Pam Christensen, the library's director, said.

The library was also recognized for circulation and attendance figures three times those of other libraries of similar size in Michigan. PWPL serves the city of Marquette and nine surrounding townships for a total service area population of 36,145.

Toni Eppensteiner, president of PWPL's Board of Trustees, also spoke during the announcement ceremony.

"I would be remiss if I did not say, on behalf of the board of trustees, 'thank you' to the staff and administration for your dedication, enthusiasm, energy, social skills and your just unwavering vision," she said.

Marquette Mayor John Kivela spoke and Tom Baldini, district director for U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak, read a letter from the Congressman congratulating the library.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums.

"This year's National Medal winners are serving their communities with innovative and creative new approaches to lifelong learning, commitment to addressing diverse community needs, plain old hard work and a lot of heart," IMLS Acting Director Marsha L. Semmel said in a written statement. "Many of our winners have evolved and grown despite tremendous challenges - all to empower and enrich the lives of their community members by cultivating collaboration and openness. I am deeply appreciative of their efforts to make a difference. They serve as the nation's role models."

A video featuring the medal winners, produced by the History Channel, is available for viewing online at

Claire Abent can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her e-mail address is

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