The Ferguson, Missouri library has been named Library of the Year. (More)

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The $10,000 prize, officially titled the 2015 Library Journal/Gale Cengage Learning Library of the Year, was announced yesterday. The award is given to the library that “most profoundly demonstrates service to the community, creativity and innovation in developing specific community programs or a dramatic increase in library usage; and leadership in creating programs that can be emulated by other libraries.”

Scott Bonner, the library’s only full time employee was in his fifth week on the job when the violence in Ferguson broke out. Many businesses closed and the schools closed. The library stayed open. Volunteer teachers came and taught students. Another group provided lunches. The library was open for the community.

CBC’s As It Happens talked to Scott Bonner last night. He spoke of watching social media to see if it was ‘safe’ to stay open. He checked at night and before he went to work in the morning.

The Library Journal had this to say;

The Ferguson Municipal Public Library (FMPL), MO, became a model for all libraries in the way it reacted to the crisis and the aftermath of riots brought on by the shooting of Michael Brown, a young African American man, by local police.

The little FMPL, with its part-time staff, a growing cadre of volunteers and partners, and its director and sole full-time employee, was the one agency in town that stayed open to serve and support all the people of Ferguson. The library quickly became a safe haven and expressed a peaceful resolve, becoming a critical community anchor. Proud of FMPL, librarians nationwide reacted, as did media large and small, and all who heard of the library’s calm leadership.
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Art teacher Carrie Pace from the Walnut Grove School asked Bonner if the library space could be used by teachers to provide an educational experience for Ferguson children during that difficult time. The school district closed indefinitely at the beginning of the school year, so FMPL created an “ad hoc school on the fly,” with volunteers and teachers and programs for children centered in one area of the library.

As a kid I spent endless hours at my local library. My mom had to come and sign for me to check out whatever I wanted to read. I negotiated more books per week to check out than was usually allowed. For a while, the librarian quizzed me on what I had read. When I quizzed her back, she stopped. Suffice it to say, libraries and books have always been an important part of my life. I was moved to tears reading about the Ferguson Library. I can only imagine how many lives were touched by this library in the midst of such turmoil and violence.