U of M wins prestigious award for its libraries

There's a ceremony to present the medal this afternoon.

The University of Minnesota won a prestigious award because of how great its libraries are.

The National Medal for Museum and Library Service is the highest honor for museums and libraries, and is given to libraries that "demonstrate extraordinary and innovative approaches to public service and are making a different for" people.

This year, 10 library systems will receive the medal, including the University of Minnesota Libraries – which is only the third academic library ever to get the medal. And in honor of the award, Gov. Mark Dayton has declared Monday as University of Minnesota Libraries Day.

"I am extremely proud to accept this medal on behalf of our extraordinary staff, who serve our students, faculty, state, and a global community of scholars with enthusiasm, ingenuity, expertise, and dedication," University Librarian Wendy Pradt Lougee said in a statement. "And, I sincerely thank our Friends of the Libraries Board, which nominated us for consideration for this prestigious award."

The award is presented every year by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, which is the federal agency that supports libraries and museums. The U will be awarded the medal at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., at 2 p.m. Monday (watch a live stream of it below). There will also be a medal ceremony on campus Wednesday at 5 p.m., a news release says.

More about the U of M's libraries

MPR News explains what makes the U's libraries so great, including its efforts put rare archives online for the world to see, like Andreas Vesalius' On the Fabric of the Human Body. There are only 16 known copies of the book, and the U has a first edition of it, which dates back to the 16th century.

The University of Minnesota Libraries is the only research library in the state, a news release says. The libraries system has 12 library facilities, with collections of more than 8.1 million books and a special collections valued at nearly $1 billion.

On an average day, more than 11,000 people use the libraries at the U of M's Twin Cities campus and staff answer about 3,300 request for information every day, according to the Friends of the Libraries Board.

Only one other Minnesota library system was up for the award. Rochester Public Library was named a finalist, but didn't win the medal.

Next Up