April 19, 2016

Federal Delegation Announces Museum & Library Awards in RI

Tomaquag Museum wins prestigious national medal Providence Public Library awarded $530K for teen workforce development pilot

Providence, RI – Rhode Island’s federal delegation today announced the Tomaquag Museum has been awarded a prestigious 2016 National Medal for Museum and Library Science by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).  The delegation also announced today that the Providence Public Library has been awarded a $530,000 matching grant from the IMLS National Leadership Grants for Libraries program to develop and implement LibraryU, a teen workforce development program model. 

“I commend Tomaquag Museum and the Providence Public Library and their partners for winning these awards.  Both Tomaquag Museum and the Providence Public Library are cornerstone institutions in their communities.  Winning the 2016 National Medal of Museum and Library Science affirms the vital role that the Tomaquag Museum plays in preserving and promoting Rhode Island’s Native American heritage.  And the new grant for workforce development will enable Providence Public Library to support more youth on their pathway to the workforce and to becoming successful and engaged citizens, ” said U.S. Senator Jack Reed, who authored and successfully passed the Museum and Library Services Act of 2010, and who ensured that the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act included key provisions to better integrate local libraries into state and local workforce strategies and help them serve local communities through education and job training. 

“Congratulations to the Tomaquag Museum and the Providence Public Library on bringing national recognition to Rhode Island,” said U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, who nominated the Tomaquag Museum for the National Medal.  “The Tomaquag Museum is an exceptional resource that I hope will honor the important heritage of Rhode Island’s indigenous people for generations to come.  And the Providence Public Library will put this federal funding to good use, providing the next generation of our workforce with the skills they need to succeed.”

The National Medal is the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries for service to the community.  The award celebrates institutions that demonstrate extraordinary and innovative approaches to public service. 

“Libraries and museums enhance our communities to make them more vibrant, welcoming places to live, work, and visit. In Rhode Island, we are blessed with many exceptional examples of the transformative, collaborative, and engaging power of such centers of our communities,” said Congressman Jim Langevin. “The Tomaquag Museum will use this prestigious honor to help them preserve an important piece of Rhode Island’s past, and the Providence Public Library will use these IMLS grant funds to help them improve Rhode Island’s future. Congratulations to both organizations on this well-deserved recognition.”

“I am thrilled that the Institute of Library and Museum Services is recognizing the work of two exceptional organizations in Rhode Island. As one of only 10 institutions around the country to earn this distinction this year, the Tomaquag Indian Memorial Museum is being recognized for their dedication to preserving the heritage and culture of Rhode Island’s Native American Community for almost six decades.  I look forward to seeing their work honored next month at a ceremony in Washington,” said Congressman David N. Cicilline. “I am also pleased that the Providence Public Library will receive federal funding through the Laura Bush 21st Century Library Program to expand their learning programs for young people in the city and I am excited to join with my colleagues in announcing these awards.”

Founded in 1958, the Tomaquag Museum is Rhode Island’s only Native American museum. The Museum aims to empower indigenous people, engage the community, and provide educational opportunities through its many programs, partnerships, films, books, tours, exhibits, lectures, workshops, and classes.

“The staff and board of Tomaquag Museum are so proud to receive this most prestigious honor. We are grateful that our work is empowering the Indigenous community and educating the public through engaging cultural experiences, including our exhibits, offsite programs and partnerships across the region,” said Lorén Spears, executive director of the Tomaquag Museum. “We are thankful for the nomination by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse.”

LibraryU will provide more than 600 underserved teens with free, high-quality workforce development training through the Providence Public Library.  These opportunities will provide teens with digital credentials, academic credit, exposure to the world of work, and entry into education and career pathways.  The project is expected to serve as a model for replication at libraries across the country.

“This demonstration project will help establish the important leadership role public libraries can play in communities to provide teen workforce education and increase employment,” said Rob Taylor, Board Chair of the Providence Public Library. “With the dissemination nationally of program tools, curricula and guidance needed to extend the program to other libraries, this model will provide a blueprint for libraries to play a central role in collective impact that is well suited to the strengths and mission of libraries – this is, the role of ‘backbone’ organization.”

The IMLS National Leadership Grants for Libraries program supports projects that address challenges faced by the library and archive fields and that have the potential to advance practice in those fields.  Winning proposals generate new tools, research findings, models, services, practices, or alliances that can be widely used or replicated to extend the benefits of the federal investment.

About the IMLS

An independent federal agency, the Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. The institute’s mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement.  Its grantmaking, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive.


Press Contact

Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921