Joliet Public Library receives 2018 ALA Excellence in Library Programming Award

For Immediate Release
Tue, 04/24/2018

Contact:

Cheryl Malden

Program Officer

Governance

American Library Association

312-280-3247

cmalden@ala.org

CHICAGO — The Joliet Public Library (Joliet, Illinois) has been named the 2018 winner of the ALA Excellence in Library Programming Award for their program “Star Wars Day.”

The award, supported by ALA’s Cultural Communities Fund, recognizes a library that demonstrates excellence by providing programs that have community impact and respond to community needs.

Joliet Library hosts the largest Disney approved Star Wars event of its kind in the world. The program is successful because the Library has keyed in on a universally cherished movie franchise that has enjoyed continual success for the past 40 years. Started in 2009, the span and scope of Joliet’s Star Wars Day has grown exponentially each year, becoming a small Star Wars convention and attracting over 10,000 visitors from several states

One of the day’s highlights is Star Wars Day Parade in downtown Joliet, complete with several Star Wars vehicles and featuring more than 200 individuals from the 501st Legion, a world-wide Star Wars costuming organization, dress up in authentic costumes. U.S. Congressman Bill Foster traditionally opens the event with remarks each year, and last year’s event was covered by Chicago's ABC7 news and even featured a marriage proposal.

The influence of Star Wars Day lingers far beyond the one day event. The library has garnered a group of fandom devotees and social media followers who now associate Joliet Public Library with science fiction, specifically Star Wars. Many of these individuals would never have considered the library a place for them. Robust community partnerships have also developed. The library is able to call on these partners throughout the year for support and further joint ventures. The push for area businesses to contribute to the event financially has created new partnerships between the library and the business community. Many of these businesses now use Joliet’s Digital Media Studio for their publicity needs and a symbiotic relationship has developed. The event also benefits downtown restaurants and bars that feature Star Wars themed food and drinks that day, as well as a nearby hotel that is filled to capacity that day. Although the event continues to grow larger each year, the expenses for the library are offset through fundraising and partnerships, making the event sustainable year after year

The ALA Excellence in Library Program Award, consisting of $5,000 and a citation of achievement, will be presented to the Joliet Public Library at the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago in New Orleans. 

Members of the 2017-2018 ALA Excellence in Library Programming Award committee are: Chair Tim Grimes, Ann Arbor District Library, Michigan; Susan DiMattia, Di Mattia Associates, Connecticut;  Betsy Fraser, Calgary Public Library, Canada; Dora Ho, Los Angeles Public Library; and Judy Nelson, Pierce County Library System, Washington.

More information about the ALA Excellence in Library Programming Award, including how to submit a nomination, is available on the ALA website (www.ala.org).