Robot wars, GED graduates, 3-D printer services, just a few reasons why we’ve been named the 2017 Library of the Year by Florida Library Association! Among 800 libraries in Florida, including public, academic, special and school libraries, we are thrilled to be recognized among the best and we can’t wait to share this news with our community. In fact, the award recognizes the particular work that libraries do in the community it serves. This award comes right on the heels of the American Library Association’s announcement that JPL Director Barbara Gubbin earned the 2017 Ernest A. DiMattia, Jr. Award for Innovation and Service to Community and Profession.
We’re blushing pretty hard with such recognition. Gubbin said the award shows how relevant the library is today in our community. Don’t you dare chuckle. With our computer and tech classes (Want to learn how to code? We’ve got you covered), online resources and, yes, physical materials like books, CD’s and movies, we’re at the forefront when it comes to offering useful, accessible resources to our community.
We focus on educational success with tools like our tutoring service BrainFuse, technology success with our free computer classes, and economic success with our Small Business Center. Our programs here at JPL have measurable results and help change lives. Gubbin credits the efforts of the entire JPL team for winning the Library of the Year award. “This award is in recognition of our staff and what they do every day to make us a great library,” Gubbin said. “It is recognition of their dedication and talent.”
Specifically, the Library of the Year award recognizes our work with initiatives that impact the community in positive ways like the Duval County Public School Student Card expansion, Project LEAP (Library Enhanced Access Program), Career Online High School for adult learners, and a new Jax Makerspace for community hands-on creation and collaboration. Through determined library leadership and fierce advocacy efforts, the library gained additional funding to restore hours—and provide more services—to more people throughout the city.
It was, and continues to be, our goal to outfit every Duval County Public School student with a public library card and direct access to library resources. We expanded our Student Card initiative for the 2016 – 2017 school year, and the initiative is going strong. Virtual student cards, which are accessed through student ID numbers, have been issued to nearly 130,000 DCPS students in kindergarten through 12th grade. The expansion resulted out of the library’s successful 2015 pilot program that initially provided virtual library cards to 60,000 DCPS students in kindergarten through fifth grade. In addition, DCPS students are treated to a field trip to their local library branch – allowing them to get comfortable searching and checking out materials.
Adult learners aren’t left out either. They are given an opportunity to earn an accredited high school diploma through the
Career Online High School at the library’s Center for Adult Learning. Now in its second year at JPL, COHS boasts the first graduate in the state; 23 graduates who have earned diplomas and career certifications; and 85 students in progress! Through Project LEAP (Library Enhanced Access Program), a Jax Journey funded anti-crime initiative, the library partnered with community organizations to take early literacy, digital literacy, and adult literacy programs into neighborhoods with the greatest needs. LEAP had more than 6,500 participants in its first year, and the program continues into 2017.
Last but not least, we were celebrated for our focus on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math). The library kicked off a 25,000 square-foot Jax Makerspace in 2016 where the community can explore, collaborate and create everything from art to robotics. Turn It UP! Thursdays turn up the fun with programs that run the gamut from cooking demonstrations to martial arts classes. The library also offers hundreds of technology classes including 3-D printing, web design, coding and more. Two Comic Cons drew more than 2,400 people, and more than 1,000 young adults attended the library’s Young Adult Job Fair.
Stay tuned as we unveil just how we are planning to celebrate our wonderful customers and staff in the wake of being named Library of the Year! More information will be posted on the library’s website at www.jaxpubliclibrary.org, in other library publications, and in all library locations.