Waukegan Public Library to Receive National Medal for Museum and Library Service Today in White House Ceremony

Celebration Featuring First Lady Michelle Obama Highlights Impact of Illinois Library

This afternoon, in a White House ceremony in the East Room, First Lady Michelle Obama will join Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Director Susan Hildreth to present the 2013 National Medal for Museum and Library Service to Waukegan Public Library. The nation’s highest honor conferred on museums and libraries for service to the community, the National Medal celebrates institutions that make a difference for individuals, families, and communities. Richard Lee, the library’s executive director, and community member Diana Alvey will accept the National Medal.

Diana was born in Mexico and came to the United States with her family when she was three years old. Neither of her parents, nor her brothers and sisters, spoke any English, but shortly after arriving in America, Diana’s mother began English as a Second Language classes as a way to help the family adjust to their new home. As an adult, Diana volunteers her time at the Waukegan Public Library as an ESL tutor to help others on their language journey. Diana also volunteers in the library’s signature immigrant program as a Promotora, working with the Latino community to identify obstacles that limit success. She has supported students and helped them gain confidence to pursue job promotions, attend parent teacher conferences at school and advocate for their children, and describe a symptom to their doctor. Diana shares, ““A young mother was at home when she heard her children yelling ‘FIRE.’ Because of her participation in the library’s ESL program, she knew what that English word meant – and how to call 911 for help. Our programs are making a world of difference.”

“Museums and libraries serve as centers for lifelong learning and as cornerstones for our communities. Waukegan Public Library is modifying and adapting programs to ensure educational opportunities and literacy for all residents and community members, and we are proud to name Waukegan Public Library as one of this year’s National Medal for Museum and Library Service winners,” said Susan Hildreth, director, Institute of Museum and Library Services.

This year’s 10 honorees exemplify the nation’s great diversity of libraries and museums and include a science center, children’s museum, music museum, art museum, cultural museum, public libraries, and county library systems, hailing from seven states. The 2013 National Medal for Museum and Library Service Ceremony will be streamed live on www.whitehouse.gov/live beginning at 1:30 p.m. EDT.

“I am thrilled to join Illinois’ Tenth Congressional District community and the entire country in congratulating Waukegan Public Library on receiving such a distinguished honor. The Institute of Museum and Library Services awards the National Medal to just 10 institutions each year, and Waukegan Public Library’s long history of dedicated and innovative service, from its English Language Learning classes to its Homework Help program, earned it this most deserved distinction,” said U.S. Representative Brad Schneider (Ill.).

“The Waukegan Public Library should be honored to receive the 2013 National Medal for Museum and Library Service in recognition of the outstanding services the library provides to the residents of this growing community.  This award is the nation’s highest honor bestowed on museums and libraries for their service to the community. I’d like to congratulate the library and its tremendous staff for the work they do to make our community a great place,” said Illinois State Senator Terry Link. 

Medal winners are selected from nationwide nominations of institutions that demonstrate innovative approaches to public service, exceeding the expected levels of community outreach. Later this year, StoryCorps – a national nonprofit dedicated to recording, preserving, and sharing the stories of Americans – will visit Waukegan Public Library to document stories from the community.

To learn more about the 2013 National Medal for Museum and Library Service winners, please visit www.imls.gov/medals.

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.  To learn more, visit http://www.imls.gov and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.