National Library Service Award for Peter White

Patrons of Marquette’s Peter White Public Library have long known that the library isn’t just a place for books.

It’s a vital part of the community.

Now it’s been recognized as a winner of the 2010 National Medal for Museum and Library Service.

Only 5 of the country’s 123,000 public libraries win the honor each year.

Pam Christensen, the library’s executive director, says Peter White is by far the smallest of those 5 however you choose to measure it — budget, staff or service area.

Its programs for children and adults range from films to health issues, history to dance and theater.

Sometime in early 2011, Christensen will fly to Washington, DC to receive the award from First Lady Michelle Obama.

The schedule for that has not yet been completed, but there are other honors affiliated with the award, including a feature on National Public Radio.

Perhaps it will include the fact that the library is named after Peter White because it was a $5,000 donation from him in 1871 that allowed the library to get started.

In 1900, the Longyear family donated the property where the library now stands at Ridge and Front Streets.

The current building went up a few years later.

An expansion project completed in 2000 has allowed an expansion of the many services provided through the library, including the housing of the city’s Arts and Culture Center.