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Octavia Fellin Public Library receives national medal

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The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) recently announced the 2014 winners of the National Medal for Museum and Library Service. According to IMLS, "The National Medal is the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries for service to the community. In its 20th anniversary year, the medals program celebrates excellent institutions that have made a significant impact on individuals, families, and communities across the nation." IMLS awarded the medal to 10 finalists nationwide:

  • Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn, N.Y.
  • Chicago Public Library, Chicago, Ill.
  • The Children's Museum of Indianapolis, Indianapolis, Ind.
  • Las Vegas-Clark County Library District, Las Vegas, Nev.
  • Mid-Continent Public Library, Independence, Mo.
  • Mystic Aquarium, Mystic, Conn.
  • North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, Raleigh, N.C.
  • Octavia Fellin Public Library, Gallup, N.M.
  • Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, Norman, Okla.
  • Yiddish Book Center, Amherst, Mass.

The Octavia Fellin Public Library in Gallup is the only winner in New Mexico. The library serves Gallup and surrounding McKinley County as well as users in neighboring counties, the Navajo Nation, and Arizona. This is not the first time that the Octavia Fellin Public Library has received a national honor; Library Director Mary Ellen Pellington was awarded the American Library Association 2012 I Love My Librarian award. Library Ms. Pellington says of the 2014 national medal honor,

"We are all very humbled to be a recipient of the 2014 National Medal. In addition, I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the library’s name sake, Octavia Fellin, who served as Director from 1947 to 1990. Ms. Fellin was a true library champion in Gallup and will always be remembered for her contribution and commitment to this institution.”

Both U.S. Senator Tom Udall and U.S. Representative Ben Ray Lujan praised the Octavia Fellin Public Library and its contribution to the community. Maria Elena Reyes has used the Octavia Fellin Public Library since her childhood growing up on the Navajo Nation. Ms. Reyes will attend the awards ceremony on May 8 in Washington D.C. and talk about the impact of the Octavia Fellin Public Library on her life. The award will be presented by First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House on May 8. After the ceremony, StoryCorps – a national nonprofit dedicated to recording, preserving, and sharing the stories of Americans – will visit each institution to document stories from the communities about the winning institutions.

IMLS celebrates 20 years of the National Medal for Museum and Library Service. Including the 2014 winners, IMLS has recognized 142 institutions over the past two decades. The next deadline for nominating a museum or library is October 15, 2014. Consider nominating a deserving library or museum for the next award and join me in congratulating the deserving staff at the Octavia Fellin Public Library in Gallup!

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