The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribal Library in Blyn is in good company with libraries in Flint, Mich., and Los Angeles as fellow finalists for the 2019 National Medal for Museum and Library Service presented by the Institute of Museum and Library Services in Washington, D.C. Rep. Derek Kilmer nominated the library which is open to the public and specializes in materials by and about Native American Indians with a special focus on the tribes of the Northwest Coast.
“We’re thrilled and in awe to be named a finalist,” said Bonnie Roos, tribal librarian. “Of all the museums and libraries in the country, it is amazing! We’re with the big guys.”
Added Betty Oppenheimer, the tribe’s communications specialist, “There are some heavy hitters in there. It’s pretty thrilling to be a finalist. May 7 is the big reveal and April 19 is our day to shine on the institute’s social media — they’ve given each finalist a day. We’ll show photos about our library and people can post comments.”
IMLS is encouraging community members who have visited the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribal Library to share their story on social media. To #ShareYourStory, visit www.facebook.com/USIMLS or www.twitter.com/us_imls and use #IMLSmedals.
The institute announced by email in early March that the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribal Library is among the 30 finalists — divided equally among libraries and museums — out of 152,000 across the United States. Finalists were chosen because of their significant and exceptional contributions to their communities. In less than a month, 10 National Medal winners will be announced.
According to a March 11 press release, “The National Medal is the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries for service to their communities. For 25 years, the award has celebrated institutions that demonstrate extraordinary and innovative approaches to public service and are making a difference for individuals, families and communities.”
Entry required completing a six-page application and asked what made the Jamestown library stand out, Roos said her top reasons were the library’s online virtual museum, a prestigious award from the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, & Museums in 2014 and the library’s impact on the community through outreach to all tribal members so they may reconnect with their culture.
About the collections
The tribal library began in 1988 with a few donated books and in 2019, it’s definitely digital.
“Our collections are primarily Native American topics and authors, both historical and contemporary,” said Roos, who has a master’s degree in library science. “We do collect some general area information.”
There are collections on history, basketry, ethnobotany, canoes/kayaks, genealogy, fiction by Native American writers, traditional arts and crafts, and graphic novels by Native American artists, plus sections for children and young adults.
“We have a full-service library with the internet, computers, books, DVDs, CDs and newspapers. But I think we make use of any resources we can. We serve the tribal community but also serve the public and in our programs we always try to tie the tribal culture into whatever they’re doing,” Roos said.
Oppenheimer noted, “As a 21st-century library, we’re not just about the books — it’s about the programs we provide.”
Several that Roos mentioned are STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) activities for youths, Native American film nights which show documentaries for tribal members and the public, providing flash cards for Klallam language classes and the Traditional Foods department for plant identification and uses in cooking.
As for Jamestown’s chance of being one of the five library National Medal winners, Oppenheimer said, “What I think of Jamestown is we can be small and mighty.”
Representatives from winning institutions will be honored at the National Medal Ceremony on June 12 in Washington, D.C.
To see the full list of finalists and learn more about the National Medal, visit the IMLS website at www.imls.gov.