MANATEE -- Manatee County Public Library System has been named as Florida's Library of the Year.
Florida Library Association named Manatee County as the Library of the Year at its annual conference this week in Daytona Beach.
The Library of the Year award is given in recognition of a Florida library that has "demonstrated outstanding service to the community it serves," according to the Florida Library Association's website.
All libraries in the state, including academic, public, special and school libraries, are eligible for the award.
Key considerations are given to libraries with "creativity and/or innovation in programming; expansion and/or enhancement of service to all constituents and areas of the community: city, county, campus; leadership in implementing programs that can be emulated by other libraries," according to the association's website.
During Thursday's annual awards banquet, the county received three other awards, including the Betty Davis Miller Youth Services Award for the annual Teen Recycled Fashion Show. Rocky Bluff Friends of the Library president Doris Pope won the Friends, Foundations and Boards Outstanding Member Award and Kevin Beach, the county's libraries operations manager, received the Lifetime Achievement Award.
"We are honored to be the recipient of each of these awards," said Ava Ehde, the county's library services manager. "Andrew Carnegie believed that in America, anyone with access to books and the desire to learn could educate himself or herself and be successful. We have worked very diligently to reinvent and reenergize our libraries to meet the needs of life-long learners by creating new roles in the community and bringing a wider range of services."
Manatee County has six library branches: Central Library, Braden River Library, Island Library, Palmetto Library and Rocky Bluff Library.
This is the second time in three years Manatee County won the Betty Davis Miller Youth Services Award. In 2013, Manatee County won for the annual Mana-Con Comics Convention.
"What an outstanding day for Ava, Kevin and all of our library team," said Cheri Coryea, the county's neighborhood services department director. "We really owe a thank you to the Board of County Commissioners for their investment in the renovations to Central Library and for making electronic resources a priority for the community."
Manatee County Commissioners celebrated the news during Thursday's Land Use meeting.
"Congratulations to our library system for being named Library of the Year," Commissioner John Chappie said. "Cheri Coryea and Ava Ehde have done an amazing job at the library."
Claire Aronson, Manatee County reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7024. Follow her on Twitter@Claire_Aronson.