MARQUETTE - Peter White Public Library was presented with the prestigious 2010 National Medal for Museum and Library Service Friday morning in Washington.
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 that make extraordinary civic, education, economic, environmental and social contributions. The award is presented by the Institute of Museum and Library Service.
First lady Michelle Obama presented the medal to PWPL Director Pamela Christensen during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House.
First lady Michelle Obama presents a 2010 National Medal for Museum and Library Service to Pamela R. Christensen, the director of Peter White Public Library in Marquette, center, and community member Jane Ryan during an East Room ceremony Friday at the White House in Washington. The National Medal is the nation's highest honor for museums and libraries that make extraordinary civic, educational, economic, environmental and social contributions. (AP photo)
"You're here today because you all share the same commitment to excellence, the same determination to serve your communities, and the same spirit of innovation," Obama said. "You're here because you've challenged the conventional notions of what a library or museum can and should be, pushing the boundaries of what's possible, embracing new ideas and approaches."
Obama singled out Peter White Public Library's efforts to reach out to the surrounding community.
"The Peter White Public Library recently hosted a series of events to educate the community about mental health and mental illness," Obama said. "I think their director, Pam Christensen, put it best when she said, 'There are so many stories here, and they're not all on the shelves.'"
Obama thanked and congratulated the award winners, saying that libraries can have a powerful local impact.
"Each of you is an integral part of your community. Each of you strives every day to meet the needs of the people who walk through your doors. And that's particularly true in times of challenge and crisis, when many of you offer vital services, stepping up to be there for folks when they need you the most," she said.
The medal is accompanied by a $10,000 award and a visit from Public Radio's StoryCorps. Winners are selected annually following an open nomination process and based on the recommendations of the National Museum and Library Services Board.
PWPL was cited 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.
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.
IMLS Acting Director Marsha L. Semmel said this year's winners are making a difference by "asking the right questions and tailoring solutions to enrich the lives of their community members.
"We honor their contributions to delight, surprise, inform and educate," Semmel said.
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.
A video featuring the medal winners, produced by the History Channel, is available for viewing online at www.imls.gov.