California Library Awards

Humboldt County Library branch receives 
IMLS 2007 National Medal for Museum and Library Service

The Kim Yerton Memorial Hoopa Branch of the Humboldt County Library was one of five libraries selected by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to receive the 2007 National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the nation's highest honor for extraordinary public service.

On January 14 First Lady Laura Bush presented Hoopa Community representative Connie McKinnon, Humboldt County Library Director Victor Zazueta, Humboldt County Board of Supervisors Chair Bonnie Neely, and Kim Yerton Branch Manager Kristin Freeman with a newly-minted medal at a special White House ceremony. The library will also receive a $10,000 award.

Anne-Imelda M. Radice, Director of the Federal Institute of Museum and Library Services says National Medal winners, such as the Kim Yerton Memorial Library, “provide ground-breaking programs that respond to community challenges, serve as models for the nation's museums and libraries, and most of all make a difference in people's lives.”

Kim Yerton, California’s only joint county-tribal library on an Indian reservation, does indeed “make a difference” in California. The library connects thousands of rural Hoopa Valley residents with Native American reading materials, computer access and engaging literacy programs. Since December 2001, Kim Yerton has recorded more than 55,000 visits, circulated more than 43,000 items, hosted 175 children’s programs, logged more than 17,000 computer sessions, and handled more than 8,600 requests for materials or information by community members. With less than 70 living speakers of the Hupa language left, the library also houses the largest collection of Native American materials of any institution in the Humboldt County system.

Road to the National Medal

Kristin Freeman who, according to the library director,”got the ball rolling” on the IMLS application, works full-time with the winning library’s customers. Freeman says, “I felt confident about competing for the award. We are an access hub: we give this remote community (which includes an elementary school, a high school, and a junior college) 32 hours of weekly services, activities and programming that our people would only find in Eureka over 60 miles away.”

Kim Yerton, according to Freeman, customizes programming for its predominantly Native American customers. “Our area’s three tribes - Hupa, Yurok, and Karuk - are oral tradition tribes. Because storytelling is a big part of their lives, we celebrate that tradition as we simultaneously celebrate reading and teach the skills essential to today’s communication and employment demands.”

For more information on the Kim Yerton Library, contact Branch Manager Kristin Freeman at (530) 625-5082.

Cataloging advocate Henry Snyder wins National Humanities Medal

At a White House ceremony November 15, 2007, George Bush presented Henry Snyder, director of the University of California at Riverside’s Center for Bibliographical Studies and Research, with a National Humanities Medal. Snyder, a tireless advocate of preserving and cataloging California’s historical newspapers, was one of 10 medal recipients for 2007. The National Endowment for the Humanities awards the National Humanities Medal to those whose work has broadened citizens' engagement with the humanities or helped preserve and expand Americans' access to important resources in the humanities.

Snyder was recognized for his work on three extensive research projects:

  • The English Short-Title Catalogue, a searchable database of every known publication in England and its dependencies from the birth of the printing press in 1473 to 1800.
  • The California Newspaper Project, which began in 1990 to preserve and index the state’s newspapers from 1846, when the first publication appeared, to 1922. It is part of the larger United States Newspaper Program, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities to preserve and inventory the nation’s newspapers.
  • The Catálogo Colectivo de Impresos Latinoamericanos hasta 1851, a searchable database of Spanish- and Portuguese-language publications printed in North and South America, the Caribbean and the Philippines from about 1539 through 1850. The latter project began in 2000. It has been funded by the National Science Foundation.

The projects are “how we recall our heritage,” Snyder says. “As we try to recover our past and try to understand what happened and how cultures evolved, we need to have access to these records.”

Newspaper Project brings Snyder to California State Library

Snyder and his team have so far digitized 200,000 newspaper pages in the California Newspaper Project’s free, searchable online database. “California has the second-largest number of published newspapers in the United States, even though the first one wasn’t published until 1846,” Snyder says. “Newspapers are the single most important record of local history, yet also the most ephemeral. They don’t survive. People read them one day and burn them in the fireplace the next.”

While directing the California Newspaper Project, Snyder combed the California State Library’s newspaper collection to gain bibliographic control over all California newspapers. Snyder worked extensively with California State Library Director of Special Collections Gary Kurutz who says, “Henry Snyder is a real dynamo. He is passionately devoted to recording and preserving bibliographic resources - his work is an enduring imprint on human history.”

Tulare County Library wins national literacy award for Jail House Rocks

The Tulare County Library has received ProLiteracy Worldwide’s program innovation award for Jail House Rocks, a project of Tulare County Library's Read to Succeed literacy program. The winning Jail House Rocks is a six week series of classes on basic health, work development, and financial literacy for inmates. ProLiteracy Worldwide is the largest organization of adult basic education and literacy programs in the United States.

Jail House Rocks is the brainchild of Patricia Habeck, Tulare County Library’s Literacy Program and Literacy Specialist. “For the guys in the California county corrections facility, getting their GED, taking their drivers test, passing their citizenship test, reading their bus schedule, and reading to their kids are benchmarks of success. I designed the Jail House Rocks module to move them closer to that success,” she says.

“Programs [like Jail House Rocks] give individuals reading, writing, and math instruction while they are incarcerated and then introduce them to support literacy services they can use once they are released,” says David C. Harvey, ProLiteracy CEO and president. “As many as 70 percent of all inmates in federal, state, and county corrections facilities are reported to have the most minimal literacy skills. But research shows that inmates who receive literacy instruction are less likely to return to jail than inmates who don’t study.” Harvey says Jail House Rocks appealed to ProLiteracy’s judges because it can be replicated in other facilities. “Tulare already has shared the program module with neighboring prisons. Some of the concepts have even been adopted and used with inmates at the state prison in Coalinga, California,” he says.

Habeck and her team are “jazzed” not only about the national literacy award, but also the positive change Jail House Rocks is making beyond the inmate community. ”One inmate,” Habeck tells us, “who we’re going to help with his GED was released a couple of weeks ago. When he came in [to the library] today he told us his uncle is a tribal chief at the Tule Indian Reservation. Because of Tulare County Library’s work in the jail with this young man, our Tulare Literacy team is meeting with the chief next week to set-up literacy services on the reservation. Jail House Rocks created this inroad into this community. We’re really excited about that!”

For more information about Jail House Rocks and Read to Succeed please contact Patricia Habeck at 559-733-6445 or email at

Tulare County Library receives some funding for their literacy program from the California State Library. Tulare County Library has been a part of the California Library Literacy Services since 2000.

Solano County Library website design wins “Best Non-Profit” design award

The Solano County Library’s website design, crafted by ISITE, has won the “Best Nonprofit” website award from the Massachusetts Innovation and Technology Exchange (MITX), a professional organization of over 6000 technology, marketing and digital media professionals.

Solano County Library Director Ann Cousineau reports ISITE’s web designers spoke to staff from Solano’s children and young adult, reference, and circulation groups as part of the redesign process. Independent of the ISITE research, the library conducted focus groups in the community to determine what customers wanted from their library’s website. “Since the website would be available 24/7, we had to make sure it was more customer-friendly and easy to use. In essence we wanted to develop a virtual branch,” Cousineau says.

California Big Read Grant Awards

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has awarded Big Read Grants to 7 California applicants. Big Read is the largest federal reading program in U.S. history, and nationally 127 libraries, municipalities, and arts, culture, higher education, and science organizations have received the grants which total $1,598,800.  During the January-June 2008 programming, the selected applicants will host celebrations of classic novels. California recipients of the NEA Big Read grants for January-June 2008 programming are:

Black Storytellers of San Diego, Inc., Chula Vista, Their Eyes Were Watching God

County of Los Angeles Public Library, Downey, Bless Me, Ultima

Friends of the Encinitas Library, Encinitas, To Kill a Mockingbird

Mono County Libraries, Mammoth Lakes, Fahrenheit 451

National Steinbeck Center, Salinas, Fahrenheit 451

Orange County Public Library, Santa Ana, To Kill a Mockingbird

Stockton-San Joaquin County Public Library, Stockton, The Maltese Falcon

For the full press release from the Institute of Museum and Library Services about the January-June 2008 grants please visit:

The next Big Read application deadline is February 12, 2008 for communities wishing to host a Big Read from September 2008-June 2009. For more information on the Big Read, including program FAQs, the complete list of Big Read novels, and application deadlines, please visit




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