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York County Libraries took home two major awards this week from the Pennsylvania Library Association.

Martin Library in York City received the inaugural Library of the Year Award, presented at the association's annual conference Tuesday, Oct. 16, in Harrisburg.

"That Martin Library would receive that, the first Library of the Year Award, meant a lot to us as a library and a lot to our staff," Mina Edmondson, director of Martin Library, said. 

Edmondson said she thinks the general public doesn't realize how many services and programs the library offers, including early-learning initiatives, story times, partnerships with local schools and the recently announced "1,000 Books Before Kindergarten" iniative, designed to encourage parents to read at least 1,000 books with their young children before they start school.

More: York County Libraries goal: 1,000 books before kindergarten

More: York County libraries get $1 million boost from state

The library staff members provide these services as part of their daily routines, Edmondson said.

"When they (the staff) realize that the level of work they’re doing and the engagement they’re making with the community and the service they’re providing is at such a high level," Edmondson said, "it kind of amazes them because it’s just what we do."

The Pennsylvania Library Association presented its most prestigious honor, the Distinguished Service Award, to Paula Gilbert, director of youth services for York County Libraries.

The award is given to employees who show "exceptional meritorious statewide service," according to the PLA website.

"It was very humbling to think that different people across the state felt that I was worthy of receiving the Distinguished Service Award," Gilbert said. "It’s a high honor in the library field."

Gilbert said the board members and leaders within York County Libraries have been visionary in their support for the variety of youth programs offered. 

One of those programs is GOAL: Grade One at the Library. The program aims to sign first-graders up for their own library cards at the same time they're learning to read at school.

More: EDITORIAL: Libraries strengthen communities

York County Libraries also offer poetry nights for kids and teens, STEAM activities to promote science, technology, engineering, arts and math, as well as several other youth programs.

"I have always been interested in working with children and helping them to be able to achieve anything they are able to," Gilbert said. "The possibilities are endless with children. They just need to be given opportunities."

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