Representatives from two Texoma libraries received recognition for innovative approaches to programming and community services. Both the Sherman and Denison Public libraries were recognized this week with the 2019 Achievement in Excellence in Libraries Award.

The libraries were acknowledged this past week during short presentations during scheduled City Council meetings.

The award is given out by the Texas Municipal Library Director’s Association and is only awarded to a small number of libraries each year. For 2019, only 53 of the 571 municipal libraries in the state received the recognition.

“The Achievement of Excellence in Libraries Award is conferred annually to libraries that demonstrate consistent excellence and outstanding contributions to public library services within their communities,” the TMLDA said on its website. “Difficult to attain, in 2018 of the 548 public libraries in Texas, only 52 libraries received the award.”

In order to be eligible for the award, a library must be able to demonstrate how its programming meets a set of 10 criteria. Among these criteria are categories for providing services for under served populations, providing cultural, topical and educational programs for both adults and families, and literacy support, among other topics.

“Once again, our library is having created fun projects and all kinds of educational opportunities and (are) just doing a really great job,” Sherman Mayor David Plyler said last week.

Sherman Library Director MeLissa Eason said these programs and subjects must be as diverse as the communities the libraries serve. There isn’t a specific list of programs, and libraries can take different approaches to meeting these needs.

“Each library provides different programming material that meets the needs of their communities,” she said. “Each year, the things we’ve done are different because we are always evolving and finding new things.”

Over the past year, the Sherman has taken steps to increase its collection of Spanish language books and material. In increasing its collection, which Eason said started small, librarians looked to cater this selection to what Spanish-speakers prefer to read. Among the selections that were added were the works of Chilean writer Isabel Allende.

Denison City Manager Judson Rex, who presented the award to the library administration last Monday, said this is the sixth year in a row the Denison Public Library has received this award.

“We’re very proud of our public library,” he said. “Clearly, they are exceptional.”

Denison Library Director Greg Mitchell said it was good to receive recognition from other library professionals who realize the work his staff is doing. The programs he highlighted included the summer reading events and the adult learning curriculum the library offers.

“We do a lot in our library on early literacy,” Mitchell said. “We have a huge emphasis on early and emerging literary programs. We go out to preschools and give away early reading kids books. Last year we reached more than 22,000 preschool children with our Read to Win Program.”

Mitchell said the summer reading program helps prepare kids for the next school year.

“As much as kids love summer vacation they tend to slip a little,” Mitchell said. “They are looking for ways to be entertained. We have a fun and challenging format. It is a combination of public programs such as performers for the kids as well as reading competitions. We also give awards for reading so many books during the summer. We give recognition to the kids while giving them something worthwhile to do during the summer.”

Mitchell said it is the biggest program the library takes on each year.