Members of the Sidney Richland County Library staff pose with a copy of their sixth ELSA certificate. Shown are (from left) Kathryn Murphy (Teen and Adult Services Librarian, Kelly Reisig (Director), Miranda Evenson (ILL and Special Services Librarian), and Ezzie O’Clair (Children’s Librarian).

The Sidney-Richland County Library has been awarded the 2021 ELSA (Excellence in Library Services Award) for the sixth time, despite the COVID pandemic and shutdowns that followed.

This year’s awards were announced by Commission Chair Bruce Newell during the Montana State Library’s Virtual Conference.

“The Montana State Library Commission is pleased to recognize Montana’s excellent libraries with the ELSA award,” said Chair Bruce Newell in a provided statement. “Montana’s communities face unique challenges of geography, scarce resources and diverse needs. The libraries that receive the ELSA are not only meeting these challenges, they are exceeding expectations to ensure that the communities they serve are provided with the best resources, services, technology and information. Congratulations to the trustees, library staff, and communities for their commitment to excellence.”

Award recipients have demonstrated best practices in management and provided exceptional services to the public. Specifically, these libraries have gone above and beyond in all of the following areas; collection development, information access, policies, planning and evaluation, fiscal management, board accomplishments, continuing education for staff and trustees, and outreach to the community.

The ELSA requirements are adapted from Montana’s current Public Library Standards, which serves as a measuring tool for libraries in the state.

Library Director Kelly Reisig summed up her sentiments about the award as follows: “I am very proud of what our library has been able to achieve despite the challenges of the COVID pandemic. In fact, we have a number of new services. Like many other businesses, we began offering curbside services. We also added the ability for patrons to print from their mobile device or print from home,” said Reisig.

The library also adapted technologically as well. “Thanks to a cooperative program with the Montana State Library we added WiFi hot spots and laptops for checkout. We also have an online magazine service, Pressreader. Finally, we added two new dedicated mobile apps,” said Reisig.

The Montana Shared Catalog app gives patrons instant access to the card catalog where they can manage their account and place holds for items they wish to checkout. The other app, READSquared, gives everyone an easy and convenient way to participate in the summer reading program without worrying about print journals that need to be turned in at the library.

Reisig said the library is continuing to look for new methods to meet the public’s needs and to adapt to an ever-changing world. “We are researching other new services to be made available in the near future so be watching for announcements,” said Reisig.

Reisig concluded by acknowledging some of those who support the library’s mission. “None of this would have been possible without a supportive community, the confidence of the Sidney City Council and Richland County Commissioners, the dedication of our Library Trustees and an excellent group of staff members who love the work that they do,” said Reisig.

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