Idaho’s Boundary County Library District Named 2017 Best Small Library in America

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Library Journal Honors Library District for Creating a Culture of Opportunity in Idaho-Canadian Border Community

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Idaho’s Boundary County Library District (BCLD) is the Best Small Library in America, 2017. Honored today by Library Journal with the support of sustaining sponsor, Junior Library Guild (JLG), BCLD serves nearly 12,000 residents in Bonners Ferry, a small community straddling the Kootenai River, with its northern border touching Canada. As the Best Small Library in America 2017, BCLD will receive a cash prize of $5,000 from JLG and is featured on the cover of Library Journal’s September 15, 2017 issue, available in print and online. The Best Small Library in America Award was established in 2005 to identify and highlight the exemplary work of public libraries serving communities with populations under 25,000.

For 30 years, Sandy Ashworth, BCLD’s recently retired director, developed the library’s vision and community connections and identified the county’s needs. She saw that openings would have to be created to encourage residents to innovate and build business that could strengthen the shrinking farming and timber economy. She worked to get new resources and repurpose library space to develop practical educational programs at BCLD, to help upgrade and modernize skills and opportunities in the county and to inspire confidence that this progress is coming.

Ashworth identified the need to raise residents’ tech skills and saw that the library could be positioned to respond. She said, “The library’s goal is to provide people with a toolbox to allow them access to new ideas and technologies that they can use to make Bonners Ferry a more successful place.”

Today innovative educator Craig Anderson runs the library and continues its progress. “I let the board know that I share Sandy’s vision to take the library far beyond a traditional library,” Anderson told Library Journal.

“With its dynamic environment, creative use of resources, and high levels of engagement, BCLD is a model for all of America’s libraries – no matter their size,” said Rebecca T. Miller, editorial director of Library Journal and School Library Journal. “By collaborating with local schools, businesses and community members, the BCLD team is fulfilling its mission to create a culture of opportunity in Bonners Ferry.”

This year’s finalists for the 2017 Best Small Library in America Award also share a focus on innovative programs and collaboration to deliver exceptional service with limited resources. They are:

  • Columbus Public Library, Wisconsin, under the leadership of Director Cindy Fesemyer
  • Pottsboro Area Library, Texas, under the leadership of Director Dianne Connery

Also featured in the September 15, 2017 issue of Library Journal, the two finalists will receive $1,000 each in credit toward purchasing JLG book selections for their collections.

Each nomination was evaluated by a panel of qualified industry professionals—including Rosemary Cooper, director of Albert Wisner Public Library, Warwick, NY, Best Small Library in America 2016. Entries are judged based on criteria that include developing innovative services that can be replicated by other libraries, technology use and education, collaboration, and serving as a focal point for the community.

To learn more, visit

For award guidelines, visit

About Library Journal
Founded in 1876, Library Journal is one of the oldest and most respected publications covering the library field. Over 75,000 library directors, administrators, and staff in public, academic, and special libraries read LJ. Library Journal reviews over 8,000 books, audiobooks, videos, databases, and websites annually, and provides coverage of technology, management, policy, and other professional concerns. For more information, visit Library Journal is a publication of Media Source Inc., which also owns School Library Journal, The Horn Book, and Junior Library Guild.

About Junior Library Guild
Junior Library Guild (JLG), a division of Media Source, Inc., is a book review and collection development service helping thousands of school and public libraries acquire the best new children’s and young adult books, saving them both time and money. Based in Plain City, Ohio, and founded in 1929, JLG provides the very best customer service in the industry. Its services help librarians with collection development and members trust JLG to put only the best books into the hands of eager young readers. For more information, visit JLG is a division of Media Source, Inc., which also owns Library Journal, School Library Journal and The Horn Book.

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Lisa Wolfe
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