2022 WINNER – John Cotton Dana Award


WILMINGTON LIBRARY CONTACT: Jamar Rahming, jamar.rahming@lib.de.us , 302-571-7400 ext 2402

IMLS MEDIA CONTACT: Brittany Vanderpool, bvanderpool@vancomm.com, 202-248-5487


The Wilmington Institute Free Library Recognized as a 2022 Recipient

of Nation’s Highest Museum and Library Honor

National Medal for Museum and Library Service Recognizes Wilmington, Delaware’s

Wilmington Institute Free Library for its Community Contributions


Wilmington, DE —The Institute of Museum and Library Services today announced Wilmington Institute Free Library of Wilmington, Delaware, as one of six recipients of the 2022 National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries that make significant and exceptional contributions to their communities. Over the past 28 years, the award has celebrated institutions that are making a difference for individuals, families, and communities.


“IMLS is pleased to recognize the outstanding performance and meritorious community and professional service of our six National Medal recipients,” said IMLS Director Crosby Kemper. “We look forward to celebrating them and calling attention to their great work not only in their widespread locales but across the land!”


Founded in 1788 as one of the nation’s first community libraries, The Wilmington Institute Free Library (also known as the Wilmington Library), is being recognized as a national model for community engagement and advancement.  The library is currently riding on the “cool” coattails of local barbers who are partnering with the library to promote reading among youth who live in a culture of the phone. Meanwhile, the library’s free all-star celebrity conversations with the biggest names in sports, arts, music, TV, and broadcasting, bring a variety of perspectives on how to navigate all the barriers and bumps in the road to success. From classic TV personalities to icons of activism, a broad variety of life experiences are explored, and worldviews expanded, live at the library or in the comfort of home, online.

Selected from 30 national finalists, the 2022 National Medal for Museum and Library Service winners represent institutions that provide dynamic programming and services that exceed expected levels of service. Through their community outreach, these institutions bring about change that touches the lives of individuals and helps communities thrive.  


“Today’s library expands the definition of learning,” says Library Director Jamar Rahming. “The world is complex and scary. But when a famous basketball player tells you how they crawled out of the projects or a local barber says it’s cool to read, people see the world differently, make different choices.”  


In addition to innovative outreach and in-library events, Wilmington Library offers a wide array of free resources.  Director Rahming observes that the library today is different, but also has the same community advancement vision of the founders: “When this library opened to the public, there was job training for carriage and trolley making. Today, youth are making videos and designing fashion. Adults are getting connected to employers, culture influencers, and e-commerce. The library is a civic hub for learning, celebrating, and participating in conversations that help us successfully navigate the world today and ready ourselves for brighter tomorrows.” 

Director Rahming urges the community to check out all the free resources, both on the shelves and online: “This national award is for our community. It recognizes that when libraries work with the community, they can be change agents and catalysts for talent discovery and development, for social, educational, and economic well-being.”


The award will be presented at a ceremony next month in Washington, DC. For a complete list of 2022 recipients and to learn more about the National Medal winners, visit the website here.

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s libraries and museums. We advance, support, and empower America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. Our vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov and follow us on Facebook  and Twitter.


About the Wilmington Institute Free Library.  

The Wilmington Institute Free Library (also known as Wilmington Library) is one of the oldest public libraries in the nation, chartered in 1788 to strengthen community social, moral, and intellectual advancement. Today the library’s mission continues to promote community and individual well-being by connecting people, building community, and transforming lives through the power of information and the power of stories. To learn more, visit Wilmington.lib.de.us and follow us on Facebook and Instagram.