MANATEE COUNTY – The Florida Library Association this week announced the Manatee County Library System has been awarded the Library Innovation Award and the Betty Davis Miller Youth Services Award. Manatee is one of only two library systems in the state to receive two FLA awards.
The Library Innovation Award recognizes a Florida library or library system that has demonstrated outstanding service to the community it serves. It is awarded based on the library’s creativity or innovation in programming; expansion or enhancement of service to all constituents and areas of the community and leadership in implementing programs that can be emulated by other libraries.
The Betty Davis Miller Youth Services Award recognizes, “an outstanding program of direct service to youth” according to the Association. It is awarded based on a library system’s outstanding and creative youth programs that promote reading, literacy or library use.
In recent years Library Services Manager Ava Ehde and her staff have used patron data gathered using surveys, focus groups and town hall meetings to shape the Library System’s long list of community programming.
“The entire library staff is overjoyed with the recognition,” Ehde said. “We’re trying to reach out to the community in new ways and support them while continuing to offer all the traditional resources and services.”
She pointed to Manatee Library System’s monthly Jobs Seekers program as a prime example of a free resource that large numbers of people have used to help find work, build resumes and polish interview skills. The collaborative program usually is offered the first Thursday of each month at Central Library.
The library system has also targeted younger patrons through social media as well as the third annual Mana-Con Comics Convention that attracted over 900 teens last year.
“Reaching that kind of a group of teens and having them take over for the day was extremely exciting,” Ehde said. “It’s amazing and it’s grown exponentially every year.”
“We are engaging the community with contests to showcase their creative talents, creating opportunities to help those less fortunate with an amnesty program which raised over 7 tons of donations for local shelters and offering innovative programs that can benefit under-served populations such as veterans, tweens, Spanish speakers, and seniors,” Ehde said.
For more information on Manatee County Library System, visit www.mymanatee.org/library and “like” their two Facebook pages, www.facebook.com/mcpls and www.facebook.com/mcplsteen. The Library System also has a popular Flickr account that features photos of some of the system’s most popular programs.
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