2021 Recipient of Nation’s Highest Museum and Library Honor

The Institute of Museum and Library Services announced Highwood Public Library of Highwood, Illinois as one of six recipients of the 2021 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 27 years, the award has celebrated institutions that are making a difference for individuals, families, and communities.

Under a new strategic plan implemented in 2018, the Highwood Public Library has dedicated its purpose to assessing and responding to the needs of local families and our community. The result has been a complete transformation into a robust array of programs and services responding to the needs of the most vulnerable populations. These programs have proven to be a doorway to progress and opportunity, increasing adult and early childhood literacy, access to education, and combating the impact of the digital divide. More importantly, the library’s programs have empowered patrons to pursue their ultimate literacy and career goals.

“It is an honor and pleasure to honor these six recipients of the 2021 National Medal of Museum and Library Service,” said IMLS Director Crosby Kemper. “Through their programs, services, and community relationships, these institutions exemplify the ongoing excellence of our nation’s museums and libraries across the country, as well as their extraordinary efforts this past year to serve, heal, and bring us together. We look forward to celebrating them, as well as paying tribute to the hardworking staff at all American museums and libraries this summer.”

Selected from 30 national finalists, the 2021 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.

“The 2021 National Medal award is recognition of the outstanding work that the Highwood Public Library has put into serving our community,” said Congressman Brad Schneider. “Under Executive Director Carmen Patlan’s leadership, the Highwood Public Library has transformed into a vital hub of support for local families and the growing immigrant population in Highwood. The Highwood Library’s technology and education services help ensure that local children and families of all backgrounds have the tools they need to succeed. Thank you to Carmen, the Highwood Library staff and the IMLS for your commitment to serving our Highwood and Lake County constituents.”

“We are humbled by this recognition from IMLS and feel empowered to continue to move forward to create new pathways that expand the incredible resources and programming the library offers,” said Executive Director Carmen Patlan. “Our community engagement strategy, BREAK, has proven to be a life-changing approach to library services. Witnessing the growth and progress of our patrons has been a transformative experience and this award serves as a testament to the power of our willingness to engage the entire community in the process of positive change. We may be small, but we are truly a mighty library.”

The award will be presented at a virtual ceremony in July. For a complete list of 2021 recipients and to learn more about the National Medal winners, visit the IMLS website.

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.


See the official press release here: Highwood Public Library_2021 National Medal Press Release