May 8, 2013

What’s New · Library Receives National Medal for Museum and Library Service
in White House Ceremony

Learn more about the 2013 winners in the National Medal brochure Learn more about the 2013 winners in the National Medal brochure In 2014, the Institute of Museum and Library Services is celebrating the 20th anniversary of its National Medal for Museum and Library Service program. The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County and Cincinnati Museum Center, proud recipients of the National Medal for Museum and Library Services, salute IMLS on this prestigious milestone. Help the Library celebrate the occasion by participating in the special IMLS “Share Your Story” Facebook campaign. Visit the IMLS Facebook page to share your own story about the ways museums and libraries have made a difference in your life!

On May 8, in a White House ceremony in the East Room, First Lady Michelle Obama joined Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Director Susan Hildreth to present the 2013 National Medal for Museum and Library Service to the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. 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. Kimber Fender, The Eva Jane Romaine Coombe Director, and community member Amina Tuki accepted the National Medal.

From a small village in Ethiopia without running water or electricity, Amina Tuki came to Cincinnati as a refugee with her husband in the early 1990s. Unable to read her native language of Amharic, learning English was a monumental challenge. Amina’s first steps into the library were to meet a tutor from the YWCA to work on her English and since that time, she’s taken infinite steps to further her language and communication skills. Unable to help her daughter Hannah with her homework, Amina marched into the library and used Homework Central. And when the Adult Learning Center opened in 2011, Amina herself participated in classes to work on her English skills. She reflects, “One day, I picked up a small book given by the library called 'Coming to America.' It took me all day, but I made my way through the pages highlighting the challenges – and joys – of coming to a new country. I took it home and told my husband and two daughters I would read them a story. And I did. My oldest daughter cried when I finished.”

Community member Amina Tuki, Kimber Fender, The Eva Jane Romaine Coombe Director First Lady Michelle Obama Community member Amina Tuki, The Eva Jane Romaine Coombe Director Kim Fender
and First Lady Michelle Obama

“Museums and libraries serve as centers for lifelong learning and as cornerstones for our communities. The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County is fostering lifelong learning for community members young and old, and we are proud to name this library one of this year’s National Medal for Museum and Library Service winners,” said Susan Hildreth, director, Institute of Museum and Library Services.


The First Lady Presents the 2013 National Medal for Museum and Library Service

“The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County has always played an instrumental role in the lives of Cincinnatians young and old and is truly one of our community’s greatest assets. Congratulations to all the individuals who have worked so hard to make our library system one of the best in the country,” said U.S. Representative Steve Chabot (Ohio).


Watch the National Medals video

“Congratulations to The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County for receiving the 2013 National Medal for Museum and Library Service. This award honors only the most outstanding institutions in the United States. Going back to the days of Ben Franklin in Philadelphia, public libraries have been crucial to elevating the education and civic literacy of our citizens. Likewise, the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, and its sixteen branches in Ohio’s Second Congressional District, have played a similar role in our community. Congratulations to The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County on this much deserved recognition,” said U.S. Representative Brad Wenstrup (Ohio).

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 The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County to document stories from the community.

Learn More

Watch this brief PowerPoint presentation or click on this PDF to see photo highlights from our trip to the White House!

Please visit the IMLS website to learn more about the 2013 National Medal for Museum and Library Service winners.