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Jeffco Public Library in the running for prestigious award

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By Ramsey Scott

The Jefferson County Public Library is in the running to be named one of the top libraries in the country.

Jeffco's library is a finalist for the National Medal for Museum and Library Services, an award given every year by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The award is considered to be one of the highest honors a library can receive.

"We are honored to have been chosen for this recognition," said Pam Nissler, the library's executive director. "Unbeknownst to us, we were nominated by Congressman Ed Perlmutter back in August."

The Jeffco Public Library was one of 16 finalists chosen from more than 100 library systems nominated.

"Winners will be chosen by a panel put together by IMLS and announced in late April. They decide based on the merits of the nomination," said Rebecca Winning, the library's associate director. "We believe Perlmutter nominated us based on our contributions to economic development."

Winning cited a library white paper, "Secret Weapon: How public libraries support regional economic development," as a factor. That paper showed how libraries provide important resources to businesses, entrepreneurs, commercial developers and job seekers.

"They give medals to 10 winners every year — five museums and five libraries. If we win, we'll get a $5,000 cash prize and be recognized at a special reception in Washington, D.C., in May," Winning said.

While the prizes will be determined largely on the work of the library, the Institute of Museum and Library Services will accept comments from library patrons at facebook.com/USIMLS.

"Jeffco residents can help us by going to the IMLS Facebook page on March 5 and sharing stories about how Jefferson County Public Library serves them and the community," Winning said. "It won't influence the panel's decision, but it's great exposure for the library."

"Winners will be announced in April, so we're keeping our fingers crossed," Nissler said. "Win or lose, it's a significant achievement to have come this far."

Contact Ramsey Scott at ramsey@evergreenco.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 22.