For its innovative use of technology and its outstanding accessibility, the Contra Costa County Library has been awarded the nation's highest honor for libraries and museums – the National Medal for Museum and Library Service.
It is one of 10 awardees – from 10 states – to receive the 2012 medal from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the agency that serves as the primary source of federal funding for the nation's libraries and museums.
The medal will be presented in a ceremony in Washington, DC, Wednesday.
Only one other county library system – Cumberland County Library in North Carolina – received the medal this year. The winners, listed at the bottom of this article, included also other libraries, museums, a science center and a conservatory.
The award announcement singled out the Contra Costa County Library's use of mobile and digital access platforms, including its "Snap & Go" QR codes and its "Discover & Go" portal to downloadable free passes to cultural institutions around the Bay Area.
"California’s Contra Costa County Library is reshaping how residents access library services on the go," the announcement said.
With the library's QR (Quick Response) codes, patrons with mobile devices "can access e-books, the catalog and other features where and when they want them, not just when libraries are open," the announcement said.
Also singled out by the agency was the experience of county resident Gladys Weeks:
Contra Costa County resident Gladys Leeks shows us that it’s never too late to make a change. In her sixties, Gladys joined Weight Watchers and successfully lost 104 pounds. With newfound confidence, she enrolled in Contra Costa County Library’s adult literacy program, Project Second Chance, and at age 67, learned to read. "All facets of my life have been enhanced by the growth of my reading skills. I no longer have to look at pictures to understand movies or menus; I can now read to my grandchildren," she said. Gladys landed her dream job with Weight Watchers because of her new literacy skills and successfully advanced to earn the position of Leader.
The 10 winners of this year's National Medal for Museum and Library Service are:
- Bootheel Youth Museum, Malden, Mo.
- Contra Costa County Library, Pleasant Hill, Calif.
- Cumberland County Public Library, Fayetteville, N.C.
- Garfield Park Conservatory, Chicago, Ill.
- Long Island Children’s Museum, Garden City, N.Y.
- Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami, Fla.
- Naturita Community Library, Naturita, Colo.
- Pacific Science Center, Seattle, Wash.
- Park View High School Library Media Center, Sterling, Va.
- Shaler North Hills Library, Glenshaw, Pa.
This story originated on El Cerrito Patch.