HISTORY™ announces the winners of a special contest for libraries connected with its landmark 12-part series AMERICA THE STORY OF US. The series, which premiered on April 25th and concluded on Memorial Day, was accompanied by the largest education outreach effort in the network’s history. Organized with the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, the Library Outreach Contest encouraged libraries large and small to create themed exhibits, media projects, and public programming about the role their community played in the broader national story. Open to all libraries nationwide, the contest awarded a total of $35,000 in prizes to 13 libraries. The Grand Prize winner in the contest was awarded $15,000; two First Prize winners were awarded $5,000 each; and ten Second Prizes winners were awarded $1,000 each.
The Grand Prize Winner was Lower Macungie Library in Macungie, Pennsylvania, for an exhibit entitled Six Days in April, Forty Years Ago: The Story of Apollo 13. This exhibit analyzed the dramatic story of Apollo 13 and other Apollo missions from many angles, highlighting individual reactions to these human endeavors into space. Libraries receiving First Prizes were the Saratoga Springs Public Library in Saratoga Springs, New York, for their exhibit Honoring Saratoga Veterans, and the Erie Community Library of Erie, Colorado, for a project entitled Erie: From Working Coal Town to Suburban Boom Town.
The Second Prize winners of the contest included the Haines Borough Public Library in Haines, Alaska for their project on the history of the local Tlingit tribe, the Illinois State Library for an exhibit entitled Writing Women Back into History, and the Marian Wright Edelman Public Library in Marlboro County, South Carolina for an exhibit entitled Then and Now.
“These winners are a testament to the power of libraries to connect communities to the American story,” said Marsha L. Semmel, acting director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. “The rich diversity of the projects is impressive. And we are particularly delighted to see so many small libraries answer this call in a big way. Congratulations to all.”
The Library Outreach Contest was a combined effort between HISTORY, IMLS, and PCAH to engage libraries in a national exploration of the American past. “AMERICA THE STORY OF US provided a perfect catalyst for communities all over America to join in ramping up the conversation about the history of our country,” said Dr. Libby O’Connell, chief historian and senior vice president, corporate outreach for HISTORY. “Local libraries brought their grassroots focus to highlight the compelling stories in their collections and in their backyards.”
The library contest criteria included the relevance of the exhibit to American history, the effectiveness of the exhibit or media project overall, and outreach about the projects to local communities. The Library Outreach Contest was part of the most ambitious, wide-ranging educational initiative HISTORY™ has ever organized. The outreach campaign for AMERICA THE STORY OF US also included a student video and a lesson plan contest for teachers to highlight best practices in teaching U.S. history. In conjunction with the broadcast, HISTORY offered, for the first time, a DVD of the entire 12-hour series to every single school in America including all accredited colleges – free of charge. Other events included a live webcast with the Smithsonian Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., in which thousands of schools nationwide participated in a conversation about innovation and invention in American history. A wealth of additional curriculum resources related to AMERICA THE STORY OF US is available online.
Cara Tocci, Cara.Tocci@aetn.com
Leah was appointed Executive Director of the Charleston Conference in 2017, and has served in various roles with the Charleston Information Group, LLC, since 2004. Prior to working for the conference, she was Assistant Director of Graduate Admissions for the College of Charleston for four years. She lives in a small town near Columbia, SC, with her husband and two kids where they raise a menagerie of farm animals.