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Cabell County Public Library Director Judy Rule and Charles Bagley, president of the Library Board, hold the National Medal Winner for Library Service award presented to the library in May.

HUNTINGTON — While the Marshall University men’s soccer team was being honored Tuesday for winning the national championship, the Cabell County Public Library was also receiving national attention.

“We are greatly honored to have been named a National Medal Winner for Library Service,” said Judy Rule, the library’s director. “This week is full of good news for Huntington with Marshall’s men’s soccer team winning the national title and the public library winning the National Medal. We are so proud of our library, our community and our state.”

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) announced Tuesday that the library was one of six recipients of the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries that make significant and exceptional contributions to their communities. Over the past 27 years, the award has celebrated institutions that are making a difference for individuals, families and communities, the organization said in a news release.

“It is an honor and pleasure to honor these six recipients of the 2021 National Medal of Museum and Library Service,” IMLS Director Crosby Kemper said in the release. “Through their programs, services and community relationships, these institutions exemplify the ongoing excellence of our nations’ museums and libraries across the country, as well as their extraordinary efforts this past year to serve, heal and bring us together.”

Selected from 30 national finalists, the 2021 National Medal for Museum and Library Service winners represent institutions that provide dynamic programming and services that exceed expected levels of service, the release said.

“Through their community outreach, these institutions bring about change that touches the lives of individuals and helps communities thrive,” Kemper added.

The library was nominated for the award by U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin.

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Cabell County Public Library continued to provide West Virginians with quality broadband access through hotspots that allowed those studying and working at home to keep up as schools, businesses and health care went virtual. Because of these innovative efforts, I nominated the Cabell County Public Library for this award, and I am thrilled they have been selected for their incredible service to their community,” said Manchin, D-W.Va. “Congratulations to the Cabell County Public Library on being selected for the highest national honor for libraries. This recognition is well deserved.”

“It is truly awesome to be included in such a great company of outstanding libraries and museums,” Rule said Tuesday. “It means a lot to be only the second library in the state of West Virginia to be so honored.”

Rule added that the Cabell County Public Library has offered exemplary service to its community for years.

“Since 1967, when the local law was passed that established the Cabell County Public Library and funding was mandated from the property taxes, the library could start planning for more than one year at a time,” she said. “The structure of the Library Board with five persons appointed by three entities assured that those entities work together to improve library service. The library works hard to cooperate with these entities and to create and promote library services that address community goals and need.”

She said the library serves as a service center library for Logan, Mason, Mingo, Putnam and Wayne counties.

“We share a computer system, and books and other materials are shared among all libraries,” Rule said.

The Tri-State Literacy Council is located in the Cabell County Public Library. It serves Cabell, Mingo and Wayne counties, as well as Lawrence County in Ohio.

Rule said the Cabell County Public Library was the first library in West Virginia to have an online catalog and first to have a website.

“Staff are very active with the West Virginia Library Association and have provided numerous presidents for that association, and one is currently serving in that capacity,” she said.

Rule said the library is building a new branch library in Barboursville, which is expected to be completed this fall.

“There are very active summer reading programs for both children and adults with in-house programming starting to take place,” she added.

Karen Goff, West Virginia state librarian, said, “Cabell County Public Library has long set the gold standard for public library service in West Virginia. Judy Rule and her staff are willing to experiment, innovate and sustain. They do this with confidence and then share the results with other libraries in the western counties region and across the state. I am delighted that the Cabell County Public Library’s commitment to service is being recognized with the National Medal for Museum and Library Service.”

The National Medal Winner for Library Service award will be presented at a virtual ceremony in July.

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