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Richland Library is a finalist for national award

Richland Library’s Main branch on Assembly Street.
Richland Library’s Main branch on Assembly Street. Brett Flashnick.

Richland Library is a finalist for the National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries for service to the community.

The library is the only institution from South Carolina to be a finalist.

Executive Director Melanie Huggins said she was thrilled with the nomination. “It’s recognition of how amazing the staff is,” she said, as well as validation for the work the library does within its walls and out in the community.

Of the library’s many community programs, Huggins mentioned its FEMA sign-up initiatives, social awareness task forces following the Emanuel AME shooting in Charleston and ConnectED Library Challenge, an effort to get a library card for every child enrolled in school.

“They’re not fancy, expensive programs, but they’re super impactful. It’s more important to be making a difference in the community,” she said.

Richland Library also is impacting the community by renovating every library in its system. Three years ago, Richland County voters agreed to spend $59 million to renovate and upgrade 10 library branches.

“Each branch looks and feels a little different because they have been customized to fit the needs of each neighborhood,” Huggins said.

Photos: The new Richland Library

Three South Carolina institutions have received the medal: Columbia Museum of Art in 2016, EdVenture Children’s Museum in Columbia in 2011 and Georgetown County Library in 2007.

Richland Library was a finalist in 2016 but did not win.

The 2017 finalists of the National Medal for Museum and Library Service are:


▪ Haines Borough Public Library (Haines, Alaska)

▪ Long Beach Public Library (Long Beach, Calif.)

▪ Sacramento Public Library (Sacramento, Calif.)

▪ Cedar Rapids Public Library (Cedar Rapids, Iowa)

▪ Illinois Fire Service Institute Library (Champaign, Ill.)

▪ Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library (Evansville, Ind.)

▪ Terrebonne Parish Library (Houma, La.)

▪ Waterville Public Library (Waterville, Maine)

▪ University of Minnesota Libraries (Minneapolis, Minn.)

▪ Rochester Public Library (Rochester, Minn.)

▪ Charlotte Mecklenburg Library (Charlotte, N.C.)

▪ Tulsa City-County Library (Tulsa, Okla.)

▪ James V. Brown Library (Williamsport, Pa.)

▪ Richland Library (Columbia, S.C.)

▪ George and Cynthia Woods Mitchell Library (Conroe, Texas)


▪ State Of Alaska Department Of Education and Early Development – Alaska State Museum (Juneau, Alaska)

▪ Tucson Children’s Museum (Tucson, Ariz.)

▪ Regents of the University of California – Lawrence Hall of Science (Berkeley, Calif.)

▪ Pretend City, The Children’s Museum of Orange County (Irvine, Calif.)

▪ Friends of Peralta Hacienda Historical Park (Oakland, Calif.)

▪ Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego (San Diego, Calif.)

▪ Aspen Art Museum (Aspen, Colo.)

▪ Orlando Science Center (Orlando, Fla.)

▪ Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum (Chicago, Ill.)

▪ Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center (Skokie, Ill.)

▪ Detroit Zoological Society (Royal Oak, Mich.)

▪ Mississippi Children’s Museum (Jackson, Miss.)

▪ Discovery Place (Charlotte, N.C.)

▪ Children’s Museum of Manhattan (New York, N.Y.)

▪ Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum (Wausau, Wisc.)

The National Medal winners will be announced this spring. The representatives from winning institutions will travel to Washington, D.C., to be honored in a White House ceremony.

Related: Columbia Museum of Art receives nation’s highest honor for museums and libraries

Share your story

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is encouraging those who have visited finalist libraries and museums to share their stories on the IMLS Facebook page as a way to further honor their work in their respective communities. To share your story, visit www.facebook.com/USIMLS.