Anythink named as special mention for 2020 Library of the Year

Library Journal and Gale Cengage have announced Seattle Public Library as the winner of the 2020 Library of the Year Award, an annual award that recognizes service, creativity and industry leadership in libraries across the United States and Canada. As part of this announcement, Anythink was named as a special mention alongside San Antonio Public Libraries in Texas. While normally announced as part of a gala reception at the American Library Association Annual Conference, this year’s recipients were honored during a live broadcast hosted online June 3, 2020. 

The special mention recognizes Anythink’s focus on “Anythink as Town Square,” a key component of the organization’s current strategic plan.  This initiative seeks to build community by connecting people, organizations and agencies with ideas and each other. In practice, the concept of “Anythink as Town Square” comes to life through a variety of partnerships, services and one-of-a-kind community engagement experiences and programs.

“Congratulations to the Seattle Public Library for winning the LJ Library of the Year Award for their work in providing strategic leadership in the area of equity, diversity and inclusion. And thank you to Library Journal for showcasing the work of public libraries,” says Anythink Director Pam Sandlian Smith. “It is an honor for Anythink to be given special mention. As an organization, we are dedicated to establishing the library at the center of our community and providing opportunities for civic engagement, social interaction and information access. This special mention is a testament to the hard work of our staff in helping to ensure people are happy, healthy and safe.”

From community gardens and public art to cultural exchanges and dialogues, Anythink centers in on meaningful community engagement. Programs like 2017’s “Community Voices: Breaking Bread” encourage people of different backgrounds and cultures to break bread together – both literally and through personal stories.

Anythink was also recognized for its emphasis on innovative civic engagement. Through partnerships with organizations like The Aspen Institute, Citizen University, and Facing History and Ourselves, Anythink has provided opportunities for diverse community members to come together to connect and address difficult topics. Programs like Civic Saturday (ongoing), Better Arguments: Tech Boom Tensions (2o19) and What Every American Should Know (2016) provide space for civic dialogue, action and inspiration. Additionally, Anythink continues to partner with Adams County Elections to provide increased voting information and registration services.

Anythink’s outreach and initiatives that champion the underserved are also highlighted as part of this special mention. AnyAbility, Anythink’s ongoing service that focuses on providing meaningful experiences designed for adults with disabilities, is recognized as an industry model approach, the subject of which has resulted in numerous presentations, peer-reviewed articles and awards. In addition, through partnerships with organizations like Food Bank of the Rockies, Tri-County Health Department, the American Heart Association, and the City of Thornton, Anythink is able to increase accessibility to nutrition in food-insecure communities. With healthy outdoor farmers’ markets that accept and provide food assistance services like SNAP and WIC, as well as in-branch meals and snacks for kids, Anythink is committed to improving the overall health and wellbeing of everyone in the community. 

As the library transitions its services in response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the organization remains committed to promoting and adapting concept of “Anythink as Town Square.” Continuing to put people at the center, Anythink has been reaching out directly to vulnerable populations to check in and see what services they might need, while also maintaining an open call line for the public. The library has also been finding other formats to build community, including online performances, virtual storytimes and more.

This summer, Anythink will launch a new community engagement system, transforming traditional library management with a holistic and people-centric approach. This system, OCLC Wise, will further Anythink’s commitment to connecting people with ideas and each other by providing customers with a more personalized experience and interface. During this time, Anythink leadership continues its plans for future projects, including civic programming, bike lending, and much more. For the latest on these initiatives and more, visit