For immediate release | May 9, 2017

The Monroe County Public Library (Bloomington, Indiana) has been named the 2017 winner of the ALA Excellence in Library Programming Award

CHICAGO — The Monroe County Public Library (Bloomington, Indiana) has been named the 2017 winner of the ALA Excellence in Library Programming Award for their program series, “Discuss, Meet, & Act: The Power of Words.”

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.

The bi-annual event “The Power of Words,” presented by Monroe County Public Library and the Friends of the Library, features an author who writes on important topics of our time: topics that speak to the average citizen’s ability to positively change the world in which we live. The 2015 The Power of Words event featured Congressman and Civil Rights leader John Lewis, who recently had announced the publication of his graphic novel "March," accompanied by both of the novel’s co-creators, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell, the graphic novelist, who lives and works in Bloomington.

The authors gave an incredibly moving talk about Lewis’s lifelong struggle, the importance of discussing our past, fighting for civil rights and voting. The event was held at Indiana University Auditorium, one of the premier cultural centers of the Midwest, and drew 1,630 people.

Congressman Lewis’s visit coincided with the Library’s new partnership with the League of Women Voters. As attendees entered IU Auditorium, they were met with a large display staffed by the League, encouraging them to learn more about civic engagement and to register to vote. Soon the League was faced with a line of young people, inspired by John Lewis’s story, looking to register for the first time.

The organizing principles of the project were: Read, Discuss, Meet, Act, and featured book discussions, wisdom circles, a Civil Rights film series, art talks and exhibits, and many city, university and community partners were involved in planning.

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

Members of the 2016-2017 ALA Excellence in Library Programming Award committee are: Chair Tim Grimes, Ann Arbor District Library, MI; Nancy Bolt, Nancy Bolt & Associates, CO; Megan Egbert, Meridian Library District, ID; Betsy Fraser, Calgary Public Library, Canada; and Jay Johnston, Farmington Library, CT.

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


Cheryl Malden

Program Officer

American Library Association