The Institute of Museum and Library Services announced today that the Island Free Library is among 30 finalists for the 2023 National Medal for Museum and Library Service.

The National Medal is the nation’s highest honor given to libraries that demonstrate significant impact in their communities. For more than 25 years, the award has honored institutions that demonstrate excellence in service to their communities. In the March 17, 2023, edition of The Block Island Times, the Island Free Library was referred to as “the lifeblood” of the island.

“Even in the darkest months of winter—especially in the darkest months—the library is a warm, welcoming place where patrons can take in a special program, participate in book group, or learn a new skill,” wrote Renee Meyer, editor of The Block Island Times.

“We are proud of the role we play in the Block Island community,” said Island Free Library Director Kristin Baumann. “We were innovative and responsive to the challenges of 2020, and we remain so today. 2020 provided a creative moment for libraries and we excelled in pivoting quickly to a virtual presence with additional outside programs and events that were safe and enjoyable.”

The library staff—Judith Mitchell, Morgan Walsh, Bethany Petrik, Susana Gardner, and Irene Hopkins—continue to provide important recreational and educational events and programs for Block Island residents and visitors. The list is long, and the offerings are diverse, providing opportunities for everyone on the island to be welcomed at the library.

“To be named an IMLS finalist validates our hard work in this community, our understanding that public libraries help create healthy communities to live and work in, and it inspires us to continue our efforts to provide excellent public library service. We are truly honored that this small unique library off the coast of Rhode Island has been recognized by this prestigious national institution,” said Baumann.

“So many museums and libraries across the country are committed to providing programs that are vital to the health and growth of engaged communities. We are very proud to announce the 30 finalists for this year’s IMLS National Medal,” said IMLS Director Crosby Kemper. “These institutions represent the best of what museums and libraries do for their communities.”

To celebrate this honor, IMLS is encouraging Island Free Library community members to share stories, memories, pictures, and videos on social media using the hashtags #ShareYourStory and #IMLSmedals, and engage with IMLS on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. For more information, please visit the IMLS website.

National Medal winners will be announced in late May. Representatives from winning institutions will be honored for their extraordinary contributions during an in-person National Medals Ceremony this summer.

To see the full list of finalists and learn more about the National Medal, visit the IMLS website.