Redwood City Public Library named finalist for prestigious National Medal

in Community

Redwood City Public Library is among 30 finalists selected for the prestigious 2021 National Medal for Museum and Library Service — and the only from California.

The National Medal is the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries that demonstrate significant impact in their communities, according to the Institute of Museum and Library Services (ILMS). For more than 25 years, the award has been bestowed upon institutions that foster learning for all ages and abilities, provide access to digital materials and resources addressing needs such as workforce development and public health and harbor spaces for community discussion. This year’s award also recognizes institutions offering innovative ways to engage their communities during the pandemic.

The Redwood City Public Library worked to step up its game during the pandemic. The Library began engaging community members virtually, setting up curbside pickups for library materials, expanding free parking lot WiFi access for community members, providing WiFi hotspots for community members with connectivity issues, and offering educational virtual content for kids learning from home, among other programs.

The pandemic is among a number of factors in an unprecedented year that amplified the distinction of this year’s award, IMLS Director Crosby Kemper said.

“The revival and reinstitution of the National Medals by IMLS is another signal of recovery and renewal in the nation’s very challenging—but very hopeful—times,” Kemper said. “We are celebrating not only the ongoing excellence of the best of our museums and libraries, but their extraordinary efforts through the pandemic, the recession, the racial justice protests, and national divisions to serve, heal, and bring together our communities. Congratulations to all 30 finalists.”

Redwood City Mayor Diane Howard said the Redwood City Public Library “has always taken great pride in its creative and innovative approaches to fulfill its mission to cultivate community by welcoming all people to experience the shared joys of literacy and learning.”

“The Library’s success in working toward its community aspirations of inclusion, equity, awareness, safety, and education has always been meaningful to our community, but the library’s services were truly a lifeline for residents during the incredible challenges of this past year,” Mayor Howard said. “We are genuinely honored and delighted by this recognition for our extraordinary library.”

National Medal winners will be announced in late spring and celebrated during a virtual National Medal Ceremony this summer.

“IMLS is encouraging Redwood City Public Library’s members to share stories, memories, pictures, and videos on social media as part of the Share Your Story campaign, using the #IMLSmedals hashtag, and engage with IMLS on Facebook and Twitter,” according to a statement.

Here’s the full list of finalists:


  • Cabell County Public Library (Huntington, WV)
  • Chapel Hill Public Library (Chapel Hill, NC)
  • Dakota County Library (Eagan, MN)
  • Gwinnett County Public Library (Lawrenceville, GA)
  • Haines Borough Public Library (Haines, AK)
  • Highwood Public Library (Highwood, IL)
  • Kenosha Public Library (Kenosha, WI)
  • Long Branch Free Public Library (Long Branch, NJ)
  • Marathon Public Library (Marathon, TX)
  • Memphis Public Library and Information Center (Memphis, TN)
  • North Las Vegas Library District (North Las Vegas, NV)
  • Queens Public Library Langston Hughes (Corona, NY)
  • Redwood City Public Library (Redwood City, CA)
  • The Ferguson Library (Stamford, CT)
  • West Warwick Public Library (West Warwick, RI)


  • Asheville Art Museum (Asheville, NC)
  • Brookfield Zoo (Brookfield, IL)
  • Cincinnati Art Museum (Cincinnati, OH)
  • Center of Science and Industry (COSI) (Columbus, OH)
  • Great Lakes Science Center (Cleveland, OH)
  • High Desert Museum (Bend, OR)
  • Museo de Arte de Ponce (Ponce, Puerto Rico)
  • The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk (Norwalk, CT)
  • Mississippi Children’s Museum (Jackson, MS)
  • New-York Historical Society (New York, NY)
  • Orlando Science Center (Orlando, FL)
  • Queens Museum of Art (Corona, NY)
  • Taubman Museum of Fine Art (Roanoke, VA)
  • Thomas Cole Historic House (Catskill, NY)
  • Virginia Museum of Natural History (Martinsville, VA)

Photo courtesy of Redwood City Public Library