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Madison Public Library Honored at White House

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“In many communities our libraries and museums are the places that help young people dream bigger and reach higher for their futures, the places that help new immigrants learn English and apply for citizenship…the places where folks can access a computer and send out a job application so they can get back to work and get back to the important process of supporting their families.”

— First Lady Michelle Obama

First lady Michelle Obama presented the National Medal for Museum and Library Service to Madison Public Library in a ceremony at the White House today.

Library Director Greg Mickells, Library Board President Tracy Kuczenski and Madison hip-hop artist and library volunteer Rob Dz Franklin were on hand to accept the honor for “outstanding institutions that make significant and exceptional contributions to their communities.” Selected institutions demonstrate extraordinary and innovative approaches to public service, exceeding the expected levels of community outreach. The Madison Public Library was one of ten from around the country honored at the National Medal award ceremony today.

Founded in 1875, Madison Public Library is a system consisting of a Central Library and eight neighborhood libraries. The library’s mission is to provide free and equitable access to cultural and educational experiences in the neighborhoods it serves. In 2012, with new leadership, the library revitalized the Central Library, which gave birth to their prized Bubbler program. Since 2012, the library has prioritized initiatives that focus on building community partnerships, connecting library visitors to services such as summer reading clubs, engaging with public health nurses, and social services outreach.

The library created the Bubbler program that encourages participatory learning through hands-on, pop-up workshops. The experience encourages the community to join the maker movement through varied opportunities from the basics of animation, to beer brewing, to 3-D printing. Currently funded through an Institute for Museum and Library Services grant in partnership with the University of Madison, the Bubbler program has become a model of the library’s new vision: “your place to learn, share and create.”

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