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National Medal for Museum and Library Service

Deadline: 
October 01, 2018
Grant Info: 

Download FY 2019 Nomination Form (Fill-in PDF, 219KB)

Program Overview:
The National Medals are designed to recognize outstanding libraries and museums that contribute significantly to the wellbeing of their communities. These institutions exceed expected levels of community outreach beyond a single program or exhibit by building community cohesion and serving as catalysts for positive community change.  Nominees should review the IMLS strategic plan and highlight how their work aligns (e.g., promoting lifelong learning, building institutional capacity, increasing community access). We are particularly interested in enhanced services for veterans/military families, sustained opportunities for diverse youth and young professionals, and assistance to marginalized young families or seniors.  

Recipient institutions are honored at an awards ceremony.

Nominations should describe the:

  • population served and community needs;
  • institution’s programs, services, and partnerships;
  • impact and evaluation of programs; and
  • financial sustainability.

How are the recipients of the National Medal selected?
The Director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, with the advice of the Museum and Library Services Board, selects the recipients of the National Medals.  In addition to the Medal, IMLS may grant a monetary award.

When are the recipients of the National Medal announced?
The recipients of the National Medals are usually announced in the spring on the IMLS website and through a press release.  Visit the National Medals page to learn more about the annual celebration of the National Medal recipients.

Who is eligible for a National Medal?
For museums:

  • Aquariums, Arboretums/Botanical Gardens, Art Museums, Children’s/Youth Museums, General Museums, Historic Houses/Sites, History Museums, Natural History/Anthropology Museums, Nature Centers, Planetariums, Science/Technology Museums, Specialized Museums, and Zoos may be nominated for the National Medal for Museum Service if they: are either a unit of State or local government or a private nonprofit organization that has tax-exempt status under the Internal Revenue Code;
  • are located in one of the 50 States of the United States of America, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, or the Republic of Palau; and
  • qualify as a museum that, using a professional staff, is organized on a permanent basis for essentially educational or aesthetic purposes; owns or uses tangible objects, either animate or inanimate; cares for these objects; and exhibits these objects to the general public on a regular basis through facilities that it owns or operates.

A public or private nonprofit agency which is responsible for the operation of a museum may apply on behalf of the museum.

For libraries:

  • Academic and Research Libraries/Archives, Digital Libraries, Library Associations, Library Consortia, Public Libraries, Research Libraries/Archives that make information available to the public and that are not an integral part of an institution of higher learning, Public School Libraries, Tribal Libraries, and Private or Special Libraries that are considered libraries as determined by the State in which they are located, may be nominated for the National Medal for Library Service.  They should also be: either a unit of State or local government or be a private nonprofit organization that has tax-exempt status under the Internal Revenue Code; and
  • located in one of the 50 States of the United States of America, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, or the Republic of Palau.

Previous library or museum medal recipients may reapply after ten years.

Libraries or museums that employ or are affiliated with a current member of the IMLS National Museum and Library Services Board (NMLSB) are not eligible for a National Medal, per resolution of the NMLSB.

Who may nominate a library or museum for the National Medal?
Anyone, including the institution’s employees, board members, members of its community, and elected officials, may nominate a museum or library for this honor.

What steps should nominators take?

  • If an institution self-nominates, it simply needs to submit the nomination materials to IMLS by the deadline.
  • If someone outside of the institution wants to make a nomination, they should notify the museum or library directly and ask them to complete and submit the nomination form in advance of the deadline.

What information is necessary in order for an institution to be considered for the National Medal and who is responsible for providing it?
Your institution, not the individual who nominates it, must complete the Nomination Form and include the following four parts:

  • Cover Sheet
  • Executive Summary & Mission Statement
  • Narrative (four questions)
  • Letters of Support

Do not include additional cover letters, binders, folders or attachments.  For detailed information on answering parts B-D, refer to the Nomination Form.

What is the deadline for submitting the Nomination Form?
The Nomination Form and letters of support should be sent by October 1, 2018, to this email address: nationalmedals@imls.gov

Alternatively, nominations may be mailed and postmarked by October 1, 2018, to this address:              

The National Medal for Museum and Library Service
Office of the Director
Institute of Museum and Library Services
955 L’Enfant Plaza North, SW, Suite 4000
Washington, DC 20024-2135

Who can I reach out to with questions?
For more information about the National Medal for Museum and Library Service, please contact nationalmedals@imls.gov or call (202)653-4757.