CWU News

Brooks Library named a finalist for 2016 National Medal for Library Service

The James E. Brooks Library at CWU is one of 30 libraries and museums in the running for the 2016 National Medal for Museum and Library Service. The National Medal, awarded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, is the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries for service to their community.

“The 2016 National Medal finalists make lasting differences in their communities by serving and inspiring the public,” said Dr. Kathryn K. Matthew, director of the IMLS. “We proudly recognize these museums and libraries for their invaluable work to provide Americans with educational resources, 21st century skills, and opportunities for lifelong learning.”  

The Brooks Library is the largest publicly funded library in Central Washington. It was picked as a finalist for its innovative programming, community outreach, and focus on town-gown relations. U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell and U.S. Representative Dave Reichert also submitted letters of nomination to the IMLS on behalf of the Brooks Library.

“The recognition by the IMLS is truly a defining moment for this library. The faculty and staff have created an environment focused on academic success, collaboration, and partnerships that has transformed the services we provide,” said Patricia Cutright, dean of libraries at CWU.

The Brooks Library has developed a strong partnership with the Kittitas County Chamber of Commerce, which has helped in assessing community programming needs. Other partnerships have led to visits from local schools and the general public for specially designed lectures and exhibits.

Among its many popular free programs are: International Games Day where families and students play a variety of games; the Friends of Brooks Library book sale; a quarterly Waffle Night where students enjoy waffles and coffee while studying for finals; Banned Books Week with discussions on the Freedom to Read Statement; Poetry nights with readings by famous authors, lectures and film series; and the annual Brooks Library Gala which features local businesses, authors, and showcases student and faculty talent.

The library partners with Head Start to support early literacy needs in the community. Free adult workshops on computer literacy, career planning, and resume writing are also offered. With a Pride Foundation grant, Brooks Library developed an LGBTQ informational brochure and website and purchased library materials covering youth, family, young adult, adult, and aging LGBTQ issues.

Brooks Library is also home to an increasingly popular local history collection. Irreplaceable photos and recorded interviews related to the history of Kittitas County are preserved and easily accessible through ScholarWorks, CWU’s digital showcase of scholarly and creative output.

“Every day we listen to new ideas from faculty, staff, students and our town patrons,” Cutright said. “There are challenges with the always-limited resources in meeting expectations, but I am proud that this staff and faculty approach work with creativity and a positive attitude that makes things happen.”

IMLS is encouraging people who have visited Brooks Library to share stories on its Facebook page. The National Medal winners will be named this spring. For more about the finalists, visit

Media contact: Maureen Rust, CWU student engagement and community outreach librarian, 509-963-2102,

February 23, 2016