Library Accolades

You have many reasons to be proud of your library and many reasons to have faith in your library’s committment to excellence. Here is a list of recent awards and endorsements from local and national organizations. Please share these with your friends and family. By spreading the good news, you lift the image of the library, considered by many to be the crown jewel of Topeka.

Library named a 4-star library in 2015


The Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library has been recognized as a 4-Star Library by Library Journal. Star libraries are identified based on the success of their output – circulation numbers, program attendance and community use of services.

Lissa Staley facilitates Community Health Improvement Plan

croppedphotoLissa Staley is the library’s health information librarian and co-chair of the Healthy Eating and Active Living workgroup at Heartland Healthy Neighborhoods as a library representative. She helped community members and service providers to create goals, strategies and opportunities for community action for the Community Health Improvement Plan based on areas of focus identified in the 2012 Community Health Needs Assessment for Shawnee County. She worked on the project for 16 months and presented it to the Shawnee County Board of Health in April 2015.

Library wins 2015 LibraryAware Community Award

The Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library was given a 2015 LibraryAware Community Award by Library Journal and underwritten by LibraryAware™, a product of the NoveList division of EBSCO Information Services.

The Dothan Houston County Library System in Alabama was the first place recipient, Saint Paul Public Library in Minnesota was awarded second place, while third place went to Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library.

The award recognizes model communities that engage with their libraries to improve the lives of their citizens and create life-long learners.

David King appointed to ALA Nominating Committee

DAvid_web thumbDavid Lee King, director of digital services, has been appointed to the American Library Association’s (ALA) Nominating Committee. The Nominating Committee builds a slate of candidates for the association that include the President–elect, Treasurer and Councilor-at-Large. An ALA member can only be appointed to the Nominating Committee once, and it’s a great honor to be appointed.

Community Novel Project featured in American Libraries Magazine

LISSA-STALEY-00831The library’s own innovative Community Novel Project was featured in a Trends/Perspectives article in American Libraries magazine. The article was authored by our own Lissa Staley, librarian and self-proclaimed “Book Evangelist.”

“Leading Self Publishing Efforts in Communities.” Lissa Staley. American Libraries, January/February 2015, pages 18-19. Read the article.

Kansas ALA Councilor







Marie Pyko, the library’s public services director, was appointed to the position of Councilor of the American Library Association Kansas chapter.

2014 Star Library

We were recognized by Library Journal as a Star Library in 2014. Star libraries are identified based on the success of their output – circulation numbers, program attendance and community use of services.

Star Library banner


2014 Top Innovator

The Urban Libraries Council (ULC) announced Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library as one of its 2014 Top Innovators during the Next Libraries Conference, June 22-24, in Chicago. A panel of expert judges selected TSCPL’s Librarians Facilitating Community Change from more than 180 applications in the fifth annual ULC Innovations Initiative.

ULC’s Innovations Initiative highlights members’ programs, services and operating practices that demonstrate their leadership by creating new approaches and practices to ensure the public library continuously meeting the ever-changing needs of the community. Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library won in the category of Civic and Community Engagement.

The library has served as a convener for community conversations and librarians have served as trusted facilitators. In 2013 the Librarians and management staff received Effective Facilitator/Masterful Meetings training sponsored by Heartland Visioning. The librarians now use these tools to increase productivity, improve communication and participation, and achieve superior outcomes in the library and in the community, whether that’s leading a library team or facilitating a community discussion for Heartland Visioning, or the recent Community Conversation on Poverty.

“21st century public libraries serve as conveners and facilitators in their communities and the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library has pursued those roles as a way to have a real and lasting impact on making our community a better place to live, work and learn, “explains CEO Gina Millsap. “When our librarians are at the table in any community conversation, they have the skills as facilitators and information professionals to ensure a good process and better outcomes.”


Literary Recognition

77f1f84b-2af1-473b-8f42-c675337517eeIn 2014, the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library’s Community Novel Project launched its third and fourth serialized novels, Superimposed, adult fiction, and Spirits of Oz, fiction for tween readers. More than 50 members of the Topeka community authored the books collaboratively. 
 Librarians and leaders of the project, Lissa Staley and Miranda Ericsson Kendall, accepted the Arty Literary Arts Award on behalf of the library. Topeka arts organization, ArtsConnect, presented the award Sat. Aug. 30, 2014. The Community Novel project won over two other nominees.

“We’re demonstrating to the local writing community that the library is a convener, an encourager and supporter. We’re more than just a place to have your book shelved when it’s published. We’re giving them experience,” said Staley.

For more on the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library’s Community Novel Project, visit Or see Miranda Ericsson Kendall and Lissa Staley present a webinar on the project on the Nebraska Library Commission website.


Your Four Star Library

The Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library has been recognized as a high-performing library in a time of need. The library was given four out of five stars by Library Journal, by the oldest and most respected publication covering the library field.

Libraries across the nation are playing a key role in their communities in this current economic crisis, and your library is no exception. Libraries were judged on number of visits, circulation, program attendance and public Internet computer use.

Each day more than 3,000 visitors walk through the doors of the library. The library has experienced a 19.3 percent increase in the number of people coming into the library this year compared to last. In 2008, we checked out 2,453,453 items. In 2009, checkout was up 7 percent.

The library provides free computer and Internet access and training. We offer about 500 computer-training classes each year. Our instructors say attendance at computer training programs has increased as the unemployment rate has increased.

258 libraries from across the United States earned a star ranking. To find out what other Kansas libraries were awarded stars, visit Library Journal’s website.


 Art librarian made esteemed juror

Brea BlackArt librarian Brea Black juried the Guild of Book Workers Midwest Chapter’s travelling book arts exhibit “Plainly Spoken” in 2013. Black was one of three jurors. The other two jurors were from the University of Kansas (KU) and St. Louis. Books were submitted by artists from across the country.

The exhibit opened at the Spencer Research Library at KU in Nov. 2013. After KU, the exhibit travelled to the University of Michigan, the Newberry Library in Chicago, the University of Iowa, and the Minnesota Center for Book Arts in Minneapolis.

The exhibit is described as “including a range of binding ideas: models that replicate books from an historical period; cut-aways that visually reveal their hidden structure; design bindings that interpret a concept from the text; and artists’ bindings that play with structures and materials to create something new.”


Library earns Mora Award for multicultural celebration

The Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library’s efforts to celebrate and raise awareness of the traditions of the Latino culture earned us $1,000 in grant money.

The library was honored with a national 2009 Estela and Raúl Mora Award for our El Día de los Niños/El Día de los Libros (Children’s Day/Book Day) program. El Día is a multicultural celebration held annually.

More than 550 individuals participated in our program in 2009, and about 90 percent of them were Hispanic or Latino. The event included a bilingual puppet show, bilingual reader’s theater, traditional dancers, carnival games, bilingual storytelling and music by local elementary and high schoolers. All activities were presented in English and Spanish.

In 2010, some of the grant money will be used to purchase more books, food and prizes for attendees of Dia, which will be April 29. And, some of the grant will be spent bolstering the library’s collection of bilingual books and other materials.

The only other library to earn this distinction this year was the San Francisco Public Library.


Proud Partner of Heartland Visioning

The Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library has been recognized as a pioneering Funding Partner of Heartland Visioning, a community-wide initiative to develop and implement a shared strategic vision for community revitalization.

Funding partners are organizations and individuals who have made it possible for the visioning project to start and continue for the first three years. Either cash or in-kind contributions from these partners made it possible to go forward with plans for the Greater Topeka Region.

Gina Millsap, library executive director, provided expertise as an adviser and member of the Steering Committee. The library also served as a host site for Heartland Visioning meetings, providing meeting room space free of charge.


Executive Director Leads National Association

An organization dedicated to developing the next generation of leaders in the library industry is being led by the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library’s executive director.

Gina Millsap is the 2009-2010 president of the Library Leadership and Management Association (LLAMA), one of the largest divisions of the American Library Association. One of her many goals for the association is to foster a wider diversity among its members, who average 54 years of age.

She is also focused on encouraging excellence in libraries.

“We must learn new ways to discover what our customers need and provide resources and services when and how they want them,” she said.

Millsap was sworn in as president of the LLAMA in July 2009.

Millsap came to Topeka in August 2005. As director, she works with the library’s governing board, the library staff, The Library Foundation, and the Friends of the Library to expand upon our tradition of excellence in collections, programs and services.


Advertising Accolades

The library’s Art Director Rich Kobs took home a silver medal at the 2010 Topeka Chapter of the American Advertising Federation for the creation of a poster promoting Family Chess, an ongoing chess event at the library. (See poster here.)

The library earned seven awards from the federation in 2009: three silvers, three golds and one best in show. The library’s stationary earned best in show. The library’s logo, which Kobs designed, earned a gold. Also of note, the library’s connectnow magazine earned a silver.

The annual competition recognizes some of the biggest names in the local advertising and public relations fields. The library’s submissions compete against those from commercial advertising agencies.


King Named “Mover and Shaker” in Library Leadership

Each year the editors of Library Journal identify the emerging leaders from across the United States and Canada who are innovative, creative, and making a difference.

David Lee King, Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library’s (TSCPL) Digital Branch manager, is one of 50 Movers & Shakers 2008 identified professionals who are moving libraries into the future. Library Journal has been covering the library field for 132 years, and is considered to be the “bible” of library directors, administrators, and staff in public, academic, and special libraries.

King’s recognition is attributed to his ability to simplify complex technology. He is a popular library technology conference speaker, and is a writer for publications such as Computers in Libraries to Library Journals’ netConnect.

His personal Web site also focuses on library sites and emerging digital technology as well as “other related-yet-cool (translation: fun) topics, like video-blogging, experience design and planning, and Web 2.0 / Library 2.0 topics.”

View the Library Journal article on King here


A Friend of Education

The Youth Services Department was awarded the 2008 Topeka Friends of Education Award by Topeka Public Schools USD 501 for providing excellent outreach services at Head Start programs, having bilingual storytimes each month, offering quality teacher resource materials and dedication to children. The library also won this award at the state level.

The library earned the award in the private/public institution category, for its significant contribution to public education. Outreach services provided by the Youth Services Department to area preschool education facilities are outstanding. For example, Sheldon Head Start has a library but no librarian. Youth Services staff fill this gap by providing staff to go to the school every month.

The Summer Reading program provides incentives for children to continue their education when school is not in session. The Homework Center is a place where adult mentors provide homework assistance and encourage children and young adults to value reading, studying and learning.

Vivian Scales Education Award

In 2008, Library Board Trustee Elizabeth Ross nominated the library for the Vivian Scales Education Award, for which we won a plaque in Jan. 2009.

The award was presented to the library by Living the Dream, Inc., for which Ross serves as a board member.


Woman of Excellence

Librarian, Lissa Staley, was named a Woman of Excellence at the YWCA’s Leadership Luncheon in June 2008. Her dedication as a librarian, as well as her creativity in programming, is appreciated by library customers.

The YWCA recognized her and 35 other women for their outstanding leadership, dedication, commitment and excellence at work and in the community.

Lissa Staley has worked as a public services librarian at the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library since 2001. When visiting the library, one will find her at the Reference Desk, leading book discussions, writing reviews, and helping her customers find the information they need.


Millsap, a Library Journal “Mover and Shaker”

The Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library Executive Director Gina Millsap was named a 2007 “Mover and Shaker” by Library Journal magazine.

Within days of becoming the library’s director in 2005, Millsap scheduled meetings with every manager and supervisor individually and with 220 other staff in focus groups. She asked them what needed to stay the same and what needed to change, what barriers prevented them from doing their best work, and what made them feel valued.

Millsap moved just as quickly to put the library at the table in community decision-making and to show local leaders what the library can do for them. She established a beachhead with Topeka’s Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, and the United Way.

Kansas State Librarian Christie Brandau, says Millsap has shown her users an “exciting, technologically savvy, and user-centric library.” The new Digital Branch and Services Department serves distance users with blogs for adults and teens, wikis, podcasts, and a library social networking web page.

Millsap gave her staff free reign to show customers their stuff. And the community did, indeed, say, “Wow!”


“Emerging Leader” on Staff

Thad Hartman, our collection development and technical services supervisor, was named a 2006-2007, “Emerging Leader” by the American Library Association.

While in college he started at TSCPL as a shelving assistant. Since then has worked throughout the organization in many varying capacities, including circulation, reference, and interlibrary loan.

One of Hartman’s major projects has been working with staff to create an organization and layout that will make sense to library customers, facilitate use, and create an exciting user experience. This plan resulted in the creation of several neighborhoods, which is a group of similar materials shelved together for ease of browsing.

The American Library Association (ALA) Emerging Leaders (EL) program is a leadership development program which enables newer library workers from across the country to participate in problem-solving work groups, network with peers, gain an inside look into ALA structure, and have an opportunity to serve the profession in a leadership capacity. It puts participants on the fast track to ALA committee volunteerism as well as other professional library-related organizations.