BURRILLVILLE – U.S. Sen. Jack Reed has nominated Pascoag Public Library for the Institute of Library and Museum Services National Medal for Museum and Library Service. The medal is the nation’s highest honor for museums and libraries that make significant and exceptional contributions to their communities.
The IMLS National Medal has been awarded to more than 200 organizations in the program’s 25 years existence. The 2023 recipients will be announced in the spring.
The oldest library in Burrillville, Pascoag Public Library was founded in 1871 in a millinery store with just 500 books. It moved from donated space in one business and/or mill office to another until 1924, when its current facility on Church Street was built.
In 2011, the building was doubled in size with a new underground space dedicated to children’s programming, with the construction of an addition that was fully funded by grant money. In 2021, the library celebrated its 150th birthday with a series of special events, the highlight being an evening reception-the Sesquicentennial Soiree in October of last year.
The library is privately owned by the Ladies Pascoag Library Association and governed by a Board of Trustees. he village library has been run by women since almost the beginning – and has maintained that dynamic since.
The library has remained a community staple, offering a wide variety of children’s programs, genealogy classes and more. It offers microfilm of old newspapers, inter-library loans, computers, color laser printers, and now boasts more than 16,000 volumes, plus audio books and a large selection of children’s DVDs. It is handicap accessible, including a chairlift to get to lower part of the building.
When Boy Scouts of America first opened its program to girls in 2019, the library was one of the first to sponsor a girls’ troop.
Reed’s office spoke with library Director Gretchen Hanley in mid-October, and a letter from IMLS announcing the nomination was received a week later, also shared with Board of Trustees President Kathan Lambert.
“It’s a bit of a cliche, but in this case we feel it truly is an honor just to be considered for this award,” said Lambert of the honor. “Then, to be nominated by someone with the stature of Senator Reed, well, we’re thrilled and grateful beyond measure.”