Wallowa County Library wins national honor

March 03, 2002 11:00 pm

By Bill Rautenstrauch

For the Observer

ENTERPRISE The Wallowa County Library received national recognition recently as it garnered an award for excellence from the Public Library Association.

The library, operated by Claudia Jones of Enterprise, won the PLAs Excellence in Small and/or Rural Public Library Award for 2002. The award carries a $1,000 honorarium.

The annual award recognizes one library serving a population of 10,000 or fewer that demonstrates excellence in service to its community as exemplified by an overall service program or a special program of significant accomplishment.

The library was nominated for the award by Nancy Press of the Pacific Northwest Regional office of the National Library of Medicine.

Last year, the Library of Medicine provisionally awarded the county library $32,000 to provide Internet connections to four sites the county library headquarters and the Troy, Imnaha and Enterprise libraries. New computers were installed and made Internet-ready at those locations. The primary goal was to provide county residents with access to consumer health information.

The funds were awarded in January 2001, but with a catch: the project had to be completed by April 30. Jones, Press, Troy branch librarian Conni Curry and Delores Judkins of Oregon Health Sciences University worked frantically, shopping for and purchasing equipment, arranging for installation and making a plan for training. They got the job done, but it wasn't easy.

Finishing it on time was the real challenge, Jones said.

But the rewards are obvious today. A major benefit is that anyone in Wallowa County can access databases containing consumer health information from home.

I think this incredible gift was two-fold, Jones said. The entire grant that allowed such extensive consumer health information for the residents of the county. Then, for the county library to receive this kind of recognition at the national level is a tribute to the people of this county.

The idea for the project stemmed from a visit to Wallowa County by Dr. A.B. Lindberg, director of the Library of Medicine.

Lindberg visited the Troy library and was struck by the lack of available health information. He encouraged Jones to seek funding for the Internet project.

PLA awards eight in all will be presented at the organizations annual conference in Atlanta, Ga., June 17. Jones said she hopes to attend.

Two years ago, Jones received an Oregon Book Award for her work with children.