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Membership Awards Q&A with Tom Kern
By Judy Hoffman, NSLS
November 11, 2005

Tom Kern is the director of the Wauconda Area Library, named NSLS Library of the Year in 2005.

How did the Library of the Year award impact the staff at Wauconda?
The great thing about this particular award was that we were able to give credit to all staff for earning it, along with the board of trustees and even the entire community whose support, after all, had made it possible to accomplish so much in recent years. The awards celebration was well-attended by our staff and brought us all together even more as a team, and it gave me a great opportunity to personally thank the staff and the trustees as a group for all of their great work. Since receiving the award, library patrons have frequently congratulated staff at services desks, further improving staff morale and again giving us the opportunity to share the credit with our patrons.

Did the award raise the profile of the library in the community, and if so how?
The award greatly enhanced the library's image in the community not only by heightening everyone's awareness of the library's excellence in serving the community but by providing a perfect opportunity to thank all of the library's partner organizations and all citizens for their support and cooperation, and to give credit where credit was due.

Did the award open any doors to new partnerships or projects?
The award certainly has made it easier to approach various organizations with ideas for new projects, and we have already started to take advantage of this. Our partnership with the business community for Library Card Sign-Up Month this year drew a record-breaking number of 120 businesses throughout the library district, resulting in part in our most successful sign-up month ever, registering 597 new cardholders. In applying for grants, it never hurts to mention that we were named "NSLS Library of the Year." In fact, we recently were awarded a "Creative Use of Libraries" grant, and it is likely that our recent NSLS award contributed to the success of our application for this LSTA grant. Other projects are in the planning process, and the NSLS award will undoubtedly help open more new doors for the library.

What were some of your outlets for publicizing the award?
First and foremost, we took advantage of this opportunity to share credit for this award with all who have contributed to this library's success, including all staff, all trustees, many community organizations, NSLS, and the taxpayers themselves. We promoted this award in many ways, including:

  • Press releases resulted in some excellent articles in local newspapers
  • Summer and fall issues of library newsletter
  • Library e-News announcing the award
  • Extensive coverage on the library's Web site
  • Various in-house decorative displays promoting the award
  • All computer monitors throughout the library use a screensaver announcing "NSLS 2005 Library of the Year" award
  • School Board presentation recognizing the library's award
  • Main library signs (street and entrance) were changed to include "NSLS 2005 Library of the Year"
  • Main award celebration September 24 at the library: "A Great Day @ Your Library!" attended by 1,450 patrons, promoted heavily in various media
  • Main telephone system message always starts with mention of the award
  • Outgoing e-mails always end with mention of the award and link to library's award Web page
  • Display of the award plaque along with a number of other award/recognition plaques received recently, some of which were related to the NSLS award
  • Gold pins in the shape of stars, with faceted glass stones, inscribed "NSLS Library of the Year," given to all library staff and trustees (purchased by library)

About the Author

Judy Hoffman is the Marketing/Communications Specialist at NSLS.



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