Anaheim, CA & NEW YORK, NY – July 6, 2021 – Anaheim Public Library (APL) is the 2021 Gale/Library Journal Library of the Year. Before the pandemic, APL decided to focus on better serving immigrant patrons, youth in foster care, and older adults. When COVID-19 struck, APL staff kept those goals front and center, while simultaneously reinventing library service for all.
As the 2021 Library of the Year, APL will receive a cash prize of $10,000, be featured on the cover of Library Journal’s (LJ) July 2021 issue, available in print and online, and will be honored during a live webcast on July 27.
Established in 1992, the Library of the Year Award celebrates the library that most profoundly demonstrates service to the community, creativity and innovation. This year, the award guidelines were revamped to include an explicit focus on equity, diversity, and inclusion both inside the library and out in the community. They also looked at how the library kept staff and patrons safe and engaged through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Among Anaheim’s many concrete steps to improving community connection, equity, and library service, the staff and leadership team:
- Revised the welcome brochure to include information on privacy and equity.
- Launched a Citizenship Corner at the Central Library.
- Engaged local teens remotely to help cataloguers make bilingual titles easier to find.
- Rolled out the We’re Here For You card for patrons 18 or younger who can’t obtain a parent or guardian signature or provide proof of address.
- Provided youth in foster care with free access to homework help and Wi-Fi.
- Assembled and distributed more than 1,400 art kits, material on legal topics, and Kindness Kits containing books, activities, and information about library and community services targeted to older adults.
- Held computer classes and legal workshops for older adults on Zoom.
- Gave away nearly 68,000 books at 90 food distribution sites.
- Rethought budgets to absorb a half-a-million dollar cut without laying off or furloughing a single employee. Part-time staff who had to leave because of reduced hours will be able to step back into their old positions when funding is restored.
- Launched virtual programming on DIY project tutorials, parent workshops, database instruction, hands-on STEAM activities, virtual tours of historic structures, and more. These reached more than half a million people and had more than 320,000 views.
- Expanded Wi-Fi hours outside closed branches and outfitted APL’s mobile library to serve as a hotspot in neighborhoods with low internet access.
- Offered STEAM On the Go! kits and Expedition Live, which enables classrooms, organizations, and families to book live, age-specific, staff-led virtual STEAM programs.
- Provided APL cards to Anaheim Workforce Development Program registrants so they can access the California State Library JobNow database, Peterson’s test and career prep programs, and Gale Courses to improve computer, writing, and other skills.
- Partnered with Access California, a local organization that assists refugees and immigrants, to provide more than 3,300 items of clothing, toys, and school supplies and allow new residents to automatically apply for library cards.
Additionally, APL participates in the California Libraries Cultivating Racial Equity and Inclusion Initiative, which provides intensive training on equity and inclusion. Leadership convened discussions where workers voiced concerns, and APL began a staff-wide collaboration to better incorporate equity and inclusion.
The discussions also led to the creation of virtual programming to drive community awareness and conversation and celebrate Indigenous, Asian, Black, and Latinx cultures and LGBTQIA+ pride. In spring 2020, the library launched a system-wide diversity audit of the teen fiction collection.
“All credit for the library’s resourceful work during the pandemic and as it reopens, rests with APL workers,” said Audrey Lujan, City Librarian at APL. “A library administrator can’t create what APL has done sitting in an office. The way we transitioned in those six days from March 16 to March 23, and kept going through COVID, is a tribute to every one of my 180 staff members.”
“Public libraries across the United States tackled daunting challenges this past year, protecting staff and patrons from the pandemic while wrestling with the reality that those protections made it harder to help those who need it most,” says LJ Editor-in-Chief Meredith Schwartz. “Anaheim Public Library’s thoughtful, consultative approach, deep partnerships, and willingness to reexamine its processes to improve equity and meet new needs successfully grappled with all those issues, making the library an example to the field.”
Also featured in the July 2021 issue of Library Journal are two other libraries honored with special mentions in the 2021 Library of the Year Award program. They are:
- Loudoun County Public Library, VA
- Sacramento Public Library, CA
A team of LJ editors winnowed the competitive nomination pool to a group of semifinalists, each of which was evaluated by a panel of qualified industry professionals.
About Library Journal
Founded in 1876, Library Journal is one of the oldest and most respected publications covering the library field. Over 75,000 library directors, administrators, and staff in public, academic, and special libraries read LJ. Library Journal reviews over 8,000 books, audiobooks, videos, databases, and websites annually, and provides coverage of technology, management, policy, and other professional concerns. For more information, visit www.libraryjournal.com. Library Journal is a publication of MSI Information Services, which also owns School Library Journal, The Horn Book, Junior Library Guild, and AKJ Education, Inc.
Gale, a Cengage company, provides libraries with original and curated content, as well as the modern research tools and technology that are crucial in connecting libraries to learning, and learners to libraries. For more than 60 years, Gale has partnered with libraries around the world to empower the discovery of knowledge and insights – where, when and how people need it. Gale has 500 employees globally with its main operations in Farmington Hills, Michigan. For more information, please visit www.gale.com.
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