You are here

National Medal for Museum and Library Service

Deadlines: 
October 02, 2017
October 23, 2017
Grant Info: 

Applications: Applications for 2019 are not yet open.

Program Overview:
The National Medals are designed to recognize outstanding libraries and museums that contribute significantly to the wellbeing of their communities. For 2018, IMLS was particularly interested in museum and library programs that build community cohesion and serve as a catalyst for positive community change, including programs that provide services for veterans and military families, at-risk children and families, the un- and under-employed, and youth confronting barriers to STEM-related employment.

Selected institutions demonstrate extraordinary approaches to serving their constituents; they exceed expected levels of community outreach. These organizations have established themselves as community anchor institutions. Recipient institutions are honored at an awards ceremony that is held in Washington, DC.

Nominations describe:

  • 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. 

When are the recipients of the National Medal announced?
The recipients of the National Medals will be announced in late April 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 nomination?

For museums:

  • In general: 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 Centers, 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.

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:

  1. Cover Sheet
  2. Executive Summary & Mission Statement
  3. Narrative (four questions)
  4. 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 application deadline for 2019 has not yet been announced.

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 (202) 653-4757.