Pritzker Military Library to Receive National Medal for Museum and Library Service Nation’s Highest Award for Community Service
CHICAGO (October 6, 2009) – The Pritzker Military Library has been named one of 10 recipients of the 2009 National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the nation’s highest honor for museums and libraries. The annual award, made by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) since 1994, recognizes institutions for outstanding social, educational, environmental, or economic contributions to their communities. The Pritzker Military Library will receive the National Medal at a ceremony to be held in Washington, D.C., including a $10,000 award in recognition of their extraordinary contributions.
“On behalf of our founder and president, James N. Pritzker, we are honored to be selected as a recipient of the 2009 National Medal,” said Ryan Yantis, executive director of the Pritzker Military Library. “While our library is relatively young, we feel this award is a tribute to our members, staff, trustees, and volunteers for their steadfast service and innovative efforts. This recognition will inspire us to achieve even more with our programs, events and outreach.”
“Every day, the Pritzker Military Library makes a real difference in their community,” said IMLS Director Anne-Imelda M. Radice. “Their exemplary programs respond to community challenges, positively impact people’s lives, and serve as models for the nation’s libraries. I applaud their outstanding efforts and encourage others to follow in their footsteps.”
Founded by Colonel (IL) James N. Pritzker, IL ARNG (Ret.), the Pritzker Military Library has become a national resource for study of the Citizen Soldier in American history. It is the only library in the United States devoted to military history that is free and open to the public, located not on a military base but in downtown Chicago – a short walk from Navy Pier, Water Tower, and the Magnificent Mile. Stories of courage, valor, and sacrifice are told not only through an extensive collection of books, photographs, posters, and artifacts, but also through weekly programs on topics from military history and current affairs, enjoyed by thousands in person at the Library and around the world via live Internet webcasts.
“The Pritzker Military Library is a national treasure,” said Hershel “Woody” Williams, who earned the Medal of Honor as a young Marine on Iwo Jima in World War II. “What they do with their programs to help tell the story of our American soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen is incredible. I am proud to be associated with such a fine and effective organization.”
Williams, 86, first visited the Library in January 2008 and was interviewed about his experiences in earning the nation’s highest award for valor in combat. He has since donated significant items pertaining to his service to the Library’s rapidly growing collection. Williams lives in Ona, West Virginia, and reflects the growing national and international audience of the Library.
The size of the Library’s collection has quadrupled in just six years. Many of these items are one-of-a-kind or limited edition memoirs, biographies, and personal papers of Citizen Soldiers. These materials are available to members, researchers, and school groups who visit its physical facility, but the Library extends its reach through a commitment to digital collections, with staff assigned to research and digitize historic photos, posters, prints, medals, uniforms, and more. These resources are accessible to scholars, researchers, and genealogist through the Internet.
Since opening in 2003, the Library has produced over 250 programs including lectures by award-winning authors, interviews with Medal of Honor recipients by the Library’s executive producer for programs Ed Tracy, and an Emmy-nominated public affairs program on military issues; questions are taken from viewers attending in person and watching the live Internet webcast. Regular webcast audiences include senior citizen centers, veterans groups, and others around the world. All programs are recorded for later broadcast on WYCC-TV/Channel 20, a PBS affiliate, and also available for download as audio podcasts. The Library also houses a gallery with regular exhibitions of military related art, vintage posters, and photography.
In addition to the Pritzker Military Library, other recipients of the 2009 National Medal for Museum and Library Service are the:
- Braille Institute of America Library, Los Angeles, CA
- Children's Museum of Pittsburgh, PA
- Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal, Cincinnati, OH
- Gail Borden Public Library, Elgin, IL
- Indianapolis Museum of Art, IN
- Multnomah County Library, Portland, OR
- Museum of Science & Industry in Tampa, FL
- Stark County District Library, Canton, OH
- Tennessee Aquarium, Chattanooga, TN
Any individual may nominate a museum and/or library in the United States and its territories for the National Medal for Museum and Library Service. Members of the National Museum and Library Services Board, the Institute’s presidentially-appointed policy advisory board, review the nominations and make recommendations to the Institute Director who selects the winners. To view nomination information, please go to www.imls.gov/medals. The deadline for 2010 nominations is February 16, 2010.
About the Institute of Museum and Library Services
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute's mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas. The Institute works at the national level and in coordination with state and local organizations to sustain heritage, culture, and knowledge; enhance learning and innovation; and support professional development. To learn more about the Institute, please visit www.imls.gov.