The Patagonia Library has been recognized as one of the best small libraries in the nation. Photo by Matthew Brown

Patrons of the Patagonia Library already know that the Patagonia Library is a special place, but now this local treasure has been given national recognition.

Library Journal announced that the Patagonia Library was one of only two libraries receiving an honorable mention award at the Association for Rural & Small Libraries conference in Springfield, IL. This award honors U.S. public libraries that “most profoundly demonstrate outstanding service to populations of 25,000 or less.”

Librarian Abbie Zeltzer, encouraged to apply for the award by a colleague in Idaho, submitted an application last summer. She credits several programs at the library for influencing the judges to select the Patagonia Library. “They were impressed with the partnerships that we maintain with the Patagonia Creative Arts Center, with Borderlands Restoration Network (BRN), the Patagonia Museum and the Patagonia Senior Center,” she said. “They were impressed with our Voices for Young Authors program and how it has evolved over the last seven years.

“They were also impressed with our Semilloteca seed planting library. Working with Borderlands Restoration Network we created a series of bilingual YouTube videos that highlight dryland gardening, seed saving, pollinators, milkweed propagation and gardening for honey bees,” she added.

Zeltzer also mentioned the summer lunch program at the library, which served close to 1,000 lunches this summer, the Three Sisters Gardening program for kids, retired librarian Cynthia Berk’s “Short Attention Span” discussion group series, and pop-up libraries at the Senior Center lunches as programs that impressed the judges.

The Library’s Community Webs Project was also cited in the announcement of the award. “Patagonia was the smallest library in the United States selected by the Internet Archive to be part of its Community Webs project and develop expertise in web archiving,” the article stated.

Several new programs are in the works for the library. “I was inspired by a program at the conference to create a coding club for middle school students next summer,” she said. Assistant librarian Laura Wenzel will be installing a grant funded ‘Story Walk’ in the town park, the gardening program and the web archives collection will be expanded, and a special collection is being compiled of nationally recognized authors who have focused attention on this area and the borderlands.

The Patagonia Library is supported by funds from the Town of Patagonia, the County general fund, and the Friends of Patagonia Library.

“I want to thank the community for its support,” Zeltzer said. “Without them the library would not have evolved to be what it is today.”