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Library receives bronze Standards Award

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

Chilton/Clanton Public Library branches have received a Bronze Level Standard Award based on a 2018 application.

The award is given by the Alabama Library Association. Awards will be officially presented at the President’s Award’s Reception on April 4. The library will receive a plaque.

Libraries are scored on following best practices standards developed by the association.

“These are the goals that we started working hard to reach about a year ago,” library director Savannah Kitchens said.

Kitchens was excited about the award saying it was “a really big deal.”

She said Chilton County faces challenges, “but we have been able to push through those challenges and may some impact.”

“Just because we are small and rural doesn’t mean we can’t accomplish a lot, and we are very proud of that,” Kitchens said.

The Alabama Standard Achievement Awards serve as a type of report card for libraries to measure how well they are doing compared to the ideal.

“Public libraries that achieve Award Level Standards serve as benchmarks of excellence for other libraries in the state,” the Alabama Library Association stated in the award notification letter. “We extend our appreciation and congratulations to you and your library for a job well done!”

Kitchens said two major things contributed to the library being able to achieve this award.

The first was adding new programs that “quadrupled our attendance in one year,” Kitchens said.

Children’s programs were added. Teen programs were started. Special events for adults were also scheduled.

The second was removing outdated and unused materials and replacing them with new books that were more relevant and diverse. This increased the number of books being checked out by 27 percent in one year, Kitchens said.

This was the first time the library system had seen an increase in circulation in five years.

“When things change and when things are also relevant to your experience and your identity as a person in the community, you tend to check them out,” Kitchens said. “When its new, you are more likely to check it out … Change is an integral part of good library service.”

The score sheet used to determine award recipients is divided into three categories: facility, hours of operation and administration and governance.

Kitchen said the checklist used to evaluate a library for an award is determined by the population of the library’s service area.

She said the population and budget for Chilton/Clanton Public Library meant the library could only really achieve bronze.

“(Bronze) is really what smaller, rural libraries are able to earn,” Kitchens said.

How many people attend library programs, average age of the books in the library and circulation are major factors.

“It gives you quantifiable goals that you can work to reach,” Kitchens said.

Score ranges are set for bronze, silver and gold.