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Institute of Museum and Library Services Announces Recipients of 2014 National Medal for Museum and Library Service

April 24, 2014
Press Release

Mrs. Obama to Present Nation’s Highest Honor for Museums and Libraries

Washington, D.C. – The Institute of Museum and Library Services today announced the recipients of the 2014 National Medal for Museum and Library Service. 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. The award will be presented by First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House on May 8.

These ten honorees exemplify the nation’s great diversity of libraries and museums and include a natural history museum, a children’s museum, a natural sciences museum, an aquarium, a botanic garden, public library systems, and a book center, hailing from ten states.

The 2014 winners of the National Medal for Museum and Library Service are:

Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Chicago Public Library, Chicago, Ill.
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.
The Children's Museum of Indianapolis, Indianapolis, Ind.
Yiddish Book Center, Amherst, Mass.

“Congratulations to the 2014 winners of the National Medal for Museum and Library Service. From programs that foster passion for science, literature and cultural heritage, to critical 21st century skills training for improved educational outcomes and workforce readiness, the services and programs of these institutions truly do make a difference,” said Susan H. Hildreth, director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. “We thank each of this year’s medal recipients for their innovation and their dedication to serving their communities.”

Winners of the National Medal were selected from nationwide nominations of institutions that demonstrate innovative approaches to public service, exceeding the expected levels of community outreach. 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. Congratulations to this year's finalists as well!

Celebrating 20 Years

This year, IMLS celebrates the 20th anniversary of the National Medal for Museum and Library Service. For the past two decades, the National Medal has honored outstanding institutions that make significant and exceptional contributions to their communities. Including 2014 winners, 142 institutions have received this honor.

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services 

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.  Our mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Our grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive.

9. Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History
The Sam Noble Museum has deep roots in Oklahoma. It began building collections in 1899 and has become one of the leading university-based natural history museums in the world, housing more than 10 million objects, specimens and artifacts. The museum provides entertaining and life-changing programs to young people, seniors, Native Americans, the disadvantaged, and all people of Oklahoma. One such program, ExplorOlogy, represents a major science outreach component of the museum’s education department, providing summer field expeditions, outreach visits to schools and teacher professional development workshops.

“The program gave me the stepping stones to be what I want to be in life and to follow my passion,” said ExplorOlogy participant, Ernesto Vargas. “In some ways, it is indescribable because it has made an impact on my life that I’ll never forget.”  Vargas, now a student at the University of Chicago majoring in geology and paleontology, was selected by the Sam Noble Museum to travel to Washington and share the impact the museum has had on his life during the May 8 celebration.

“The people of Oklahoma rallied together to save the original museum from destruction,” said Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History museum director, Michael Mares. “Ever since, their support has made it possible for the museum to work with them in providing unique programs that benefit young people from across Oklahoma, as well as adults. This medal is for all Oklahomans.”

Praise for Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History:

“Many congratulations to the fine team at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History for this incredible achievement. This accomplishment would not be possible without the dedicated work of numerous individuals who laid the groundwork and the commitment of those who continue to carry out the museum's educational vision. Our communities are better because of the learning outlet provided by the museum, and our state couldn’t be prouder.”– U.S. Rep. Tom Cole (OK)


Aliza Bran (202) 414-0798 (IMLS for Sam Noble)
Adrienne Lee (202) 414-0788 (IMLS)
Sarah Corley (202) 225-6165 (Cole)

Link to original release from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)