The Independence Public Library has been declared the Best Small Library in America for 2012. This award is sponsored by the Library Journal and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and it is a great honor for the libraries selected.
The Independence Public Library won the award by recovering from a financial crisis through an ongoing program of community partnerships, programming, excellent customer service, and extensive marketing, including a sophisticated Geek the Library campaign.
The library has won awards, gotten grants, pursued successful fundraising, and increased its tax income. The transformation has been so dramatic that the article in Library Journal described it as a “Renaissance.”
In her email announcing the award, Julie Hildebrand pointed out that the work of many people, in Independence and in the Kansas library community, had contributed to this remarkable outcome. She paid tribute to city government, state legislators, the Friends of the Library, the Geek Committee and the eight member library staff.
Independence is not a wealthy community. Montgomery County has the highest unemployment rate in the state and many of its citizens are struggling. But the city has gained a variety of riches in the development of its superb public library.