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Article by Diana Ring

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Norman, OK. March 9, 2023 – It was at a Thursday evening awards ceremony at Norman’s Embassy Suites that Pioneer Library System took home the freshly-minted top award of Library of the Year. 

PLS Executive Director Lisa Wells accepted the award from presenter Tim Miller, Executive Director of Western Plains Library System and current Oklahoma Library Association President. Scott Martin, Norman Chamber of Commerce President/CEO, submitted the nomination on PLS’s behalf.

“This is awarded to a library or library system that has provided outstanding programs and services that can be a model for other libraries, or that has made a significant impact on the lives of people in their communities,” Miller shared in the award description.

The ceremony, a highlight of the 2023 joint conference of the Oklahoma Library Association and Mountain Plains Library Association, held March 8-10, also saw PLS staff receive a number of awards.

Special Meritorious Service Awards went to PLS Branch Managers Phil Clark (Moore), Beth Lyle (Tecumseh), and Rebekah Lynam (Purcell). Computer Training Center Manager Aaron Pence (Norman) received the Oklahoma Library Service Award. PLS Board Member Marissa Lightsey was awarded a Citizen’s Recognition Award, and Executive Director Lisa Wells received the alumni award from OU’s School of Library and Information Studies. Additionally, several PLS staff currently attending OU’s MLIS program were awarded scholarships to support their studies.

Founded in 1958, PLS today offers 12 full-access libraries in 10 communities throughout Cleveland, McClain, and Pottawatomie counties, as well as additional access locations in smaller communities and outreach services including Business Services and the PLS Maker Mobile. Continually seeking to innovate, PLS recently became the first Oklahoma library system to partner with the State to offer Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, a program which mails a free book each month to enrolled children under the age of five. 

In presenting the Library of the Year award, Miller said of PLS: “From being the first to implement innovative technology, the first in the nation to install a 24 Hour Library and locally-developed library mobile app, to being the first in the state to custom build and launch a Maker Mobile, to developing forward-thinking partnerships, such as the Cleveland County Jail Reset Pod and embedding Central Oklahoma Workforce Innovation Board staff in the library, PLS lives up to its namesake of pioneering library services.”

For more information about PLS and its services, visit pioneerlibrarysystem.org.

CONTACT: Kelly Sitzman, 

PLS Director of Communications and Employee Development

Telephone: 405.801.4503

Email: ksitzman@pioneerlibrarysystem.org

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