Best Small Library in America 2011

ImageHere's some inspiration for you — though Naturita has a population of only 665, this Colorado community's library earned Library Journal's 2011 Best Small Library in America Award.

Providing programs, applying for grants, and partnerships with local schools are just a few of the reasons this small library is a success:

  • Naturita had few nonathletic after-school or summer activities for the young, most of whom attend the local elementary school. Now more than a third of the students are active in library programs. Parents who have to drive to jobs in maintenance and housekeeping in Telluride depend on the library to provide programs and safe supervision for kids until they get home. In response, NCL offers four days of after-school programming every week. Programs include homework help, monthly teen nights, and a new Children’s Learning Garden tended by kids. In partnership with the Uncompahgre Board of Co­operative Services, NCL delivers weekly summer programs for preschool kids to second graders to build cognition, language, and social/emotional skills.
  • NCL’s seven public computers clock 200 uses a week; a recent grant from the Colorado State Library will add a dozen laptops to the array. Library staff help people conduct online searches for jobs and benefits like unemployment, since many have neither transportation nor home computers to get access to such services from offices in faraway Denver.
  • NCL has partnered with University Centers of the San Miguel—a nonprofit that provides access to secondary education—to offer library videoconferencing for a variety of classes. The goal is to increase access to higher education for the population. As of the 2000 census, the number of Naturita residents with bachelor’s degrees was 12, or three percent of adults 25 and older. This compares with 33 percent in the rest of Colorado.

    Read the full article at Labor of Love: Best Small Library in America 2011, and visit the library's Facebook page.

    To nominate a library for the 2012 award, go to Best Small Library in America Award Nomination Guidelines (application deadline: November 2, 2011).

    This annual award, sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, was created in 2005 to encourage and showcase the exemplary work of libraries serving populations under 25,000. The winning library receives a $15,000 cash prize from the Gates Foundation, conference costs for two library representatives to attend the 2012 Public Library Association (PLA) meeting in Philadelphia, a gala reception at PLA, and more. Starting with the 2011 award year, the two finalist libraries will each receive a $5000 cash award, conference costs for two library representatives to attend the 2012 PLA meeting and award celebration.