By William C. Singleton III
The Homewood Public Library recently received the 2014 Gold Level Standard Award from the Alabama Library Association.
The award was officially presented to Homewood Library Director Deborah Fout at ALLA’s annual convention in Huntsville in April.
“Public libraries that achieve Gold Level Standards serve as benchmarks of excellence for other libraries in the state,” wrote Jessica Ross, secretary of the Public Library Division for the ALLA, in a letter to the Homewood Library. “We extend our appreciation and congratulations to you and your library for a job well done.”
Homewood Public Library is the first to receive the Gold Standard Award and is the only library to receive the award this year. The award was given for the first time this year.
“We got the blue ribbon award 10 years ago, which was the highest level a library could attain,” Fout said.
ALLA updated its standards a few years ago because the economic crisis of 2009 resulted in funding cuts that left many libraries cash-strapped and unable to meet certain association criteria, Fout said.
To receive the gold award, a library must grade high in its facility, administration, governance, planning, budget, hours of operation, staffing, staff training, promotion and partnering, collection, services and technology.
The evaluation process was very tedious, Homewood’s library director said.
“They came for a site visit, and we had one side of our boardroom lined with documentation that we had to provide to prove we do what we’re supposed to do,” Fout said.
But the process was worth it, she added.
“This is a very high honor for the Homewood Library and the city of Homewood,” Fout said. “On behalf of the city of Homewood, the Homewood Library Board and the library staff, it was an honor for me to receive this award. I am proud to be a librarian. I am proud to work for the city of Homewood, and I am proud to be the director of this great library.”