Dover Town Library Named Finalist for Best Small Library in America

"The positive feedback regarding our changes and outcry of support has been the greatest reward!"

The Dover Town Library was recently named a runner-up for Library Journal's Best Small Library in America 2012.

The recognition comes on the heels of major renovations and a shift in culture at the library that director Cheryl Abdullah feels has changed the way the library can serve the town of Dover.

"The 6,034 people of Dover find Kindles, Nooks, iPads, and iTouches in the collection and use them at the tech bar in the center of the library or take home. The whole collection is QR coded, intermingling digital assets with print in an open, mobile, wiki environment. In recent renovations the staff translated their favorite places—the Apple store, gardens, bookstores, and museums—into new library areas so use exploded and dollar donations jumped 85 percent," Abdullah said in a press release.

The DTL received support from local and out-of-state libraries during the evaluation process. The Haverhill Public Library (Haverhill, Mass.) and the West Warwick Public Library (West Warwick, R.I.) both wrote letters of recommendation explaining why they believe Dover's library is tops.

"After two hours in Dover, I came away with enough ideas to last two
years, and am looking forward to see what elements we can integrate with our newly revised strategic plans," wrote Beth Gallaway, Assistant Director at the Haverhill Public Library, in her letter of recommendation.

As a finalist, the library will receive a $5,000 cash prize from Library Journal and will also have conference costs covered for two library employees to attend an upcoming award ceremony.

Abdullah said that the prize money "will be used to further enhance technology for our community."

"I'm really proud of the exceptional staff here. It is their dedication to this community and the library profession that fostered and continues to foster a vision for success. It is due to their hard work and diligence that we have been able to accomplish so much in such a short period of time. The DTL is a vibrant community resource, appreciated by so many," Abdullah said in an email.

The winning library was the Independence Public Library (Independence, KS) and the other finalist was the Decatur Public Library (Decatur, TX).

"Independence, Decatur, and Dover are more than "best libraries,” they are community institutions that have reached deep into their communities, identified key opportunities to serve and innovate, and then re-created their space, staff, and programs to meet those needs,” said Karen Archer Perry, Senior Program Officer, Global Libraries Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

While being considered one of the best small libraries in the country is an honor, Abdullah is happier with the community's response to the upgrades that have been made at the library.

"The positive feedback regarding our changes and outcry of support has been the greatest reward!," Abdullah said.


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