The Kent District Library Board of Trustees recently approved a plan to reinvest $250,000 in prize money into the community in two different ways — by supporting library expansion projects and establishing a scholarship fund.
As the recipient of the fifth annual Jerry Kline Community Impact Award, KDL receives the one-time prize as the 2023 winner of this national award. Developed as a partnership between the Gerald M. Kline Family Foundation and Library Journal, this award recognizes the powerful synergy that results when a library works closely with both its local government and its community.
Four communities in the KDL service area currently have a library expansion project underway — the cities of Rockford and Walker and townships of Grattan and Tyrone. Thanks to this one-time prize for excellence, KDL is able to pledge $50,000 to support each of these projects.
KDL is also establishing a scholarship fund for KDL patrons who are a pursuing a college degree with plans to impact their community positively. The fund will be established with $50,000 from the Jerry Kline prize, interest earned from KDL’s Community Foundation Fund through the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, and private donations. Scholarship applications will be announced and accepted late in 2024.
“The whole focus of the Jerry Kline Award is community impact, so it only seems fitting we use these funds to have a positive effect on the communities that we serve and love,” KDL Executive Director Lance Werner said. “This is an exciting opportunity to live out our mission of furthering all people thanks to the financial prize that comes with this recognition.
“This gives us a unique opportunity to invest in the physical growth of branches in our community and in personal growth for exceptional patrons. We are so pleased to give back to Kent County, whose residents so thoughtfully support our operations.”
People who would like to donate to the building projects can do so by contacting the government offices for Grattan Township, city of Rockford, Tyrone Township or city of Walker. For those who would like to donate to the KDL Impact Scholarship fund, visit kdl.org/donate.
The Jerry Kline Community Impact Award was created in 2019 to distinguish the public library as a vital community asset. KDL was recognized for building relationships with local officials based on a foundation of trust and credibility. This award highlights KDL’s WonderKnook Play Spaces, summer food program, diverse and innovative programming, Library Ambassador program, diversity training and more.
All U.S. public libraries were eligible to apply for the prize whether in a single building in a small town or a multi-branch system serving an entire region. Nominations were evaluated based the library's impact on the community in areas such as engagement, inclusion, leadership development, sustainable thinking and inventiveness.