Haines library nominated for national honor


October 15, 2020

The Haines Borough Public Library has been nominated by Sen. Lisa Murkowski for the National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the nation’s highest recognition for libraries’ and museums’ contributions to their communities.

“It’s not about how big your building is or how much money you have, it’s about the impact you have on your community,” library director Carolyn Goolsby said. “We’re all very honored that we were even mentioned for it.”

The library has faced several challenges this year, including the COVID-19 pandemic and a roughly 10% budget reduction which translated to Friday closures and the elimination of two part-time positions.

Goolsby said she thinks the nomination is a testament to the library’s high level of community engagement and its diverse array of original programs.

“We have a lot of different programs in our library that other libraries do not,” Goolsby said, adding that even with COVID-19, the library has found a way to continue a number of existing programs online and create new activities like the story walk, a trail linking roughly 25 sign posts, each with a different page from the same story.

Goolsby said the Haines library has a reputation among libraries in the state for its high usership rate.

“We have 2,926 registered users, more than our population,” Goolsby said. “In one hundred and thirteen days, we read more than one million pages. In a town of 2,500, that’s a lot of reading.”

Murkowski chose the library because of its excellence and its ability to pivot quickly in response to COVID-19, according to her staff.

“The Haines Borough Public Library is one of the most decorated and acclaimed small libraries in the U.S. and in Alaska. The way they have pivoted in light of the COVID-19 pandemic is a testament to that,” Murkowski spokeswoman Karina Borger said, referencing specific programs including wild harvesting adventures, nature hikes with kids, Zoom Ranger Talkers and virtual story times.

“They have also had great partnerships and projects with the local Native community, such as finding innovative ways to educate patrons on Tlingit culture and language,” Borger said.

This isn’t the first time the Haines library has received a nomination for the National Medal for Museum and Library Service. Murkowski has included the library among her nominations since 2014. The library was one of 15 finalists in 2016 and 2017. This year, Murkowski nominated four libraries statewide, including the Haines library.

Nominees must submit packets including letters of recommendation by Nov. 2 to be eligible for the medal. Goolsby said she’s working on the packet now and that anybody who wishes to write a letter of support for the library, explaining how it has impacted their lives, is encouraged to do so. Letters can be sent to cgoolsby@haines.ak.us.

Of the 15 libraries selected as finalists, three will receive medals. Nominees will be notified of their status in the spring of 2021.


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