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HMML Awarded National Medal of Honor

October 25, 2011
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COLLEGEVILLE, Minn. –The Hill Museum & Manuscript Library (HMML) at Saint John’s University has been awarded the National Medal for Museum and Library Service. The National Medal is the nation’s highest honor for libraries and museums and is sponsored by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. 
HMML is one of five libraries and five museums chosen to receive this annual award. Medal winners are selected from nationwide nominations for institutions that demonstrate innovative approaches to public service, outstanding community outreach, and advancement of global cultural understanding. U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) nominated HMML for the award. 

As one of the world’s leading cultural preservation organizations, HMML’s mission is to identify, digitally photograph, catalog, and archive the contents of endangered manuscripts belonging to threatened communities, and then to make these unique cultural resources available to users around the world. 

“The work of HMML is inspiring, vitally important, and deserves recognition for excellence. The National Medal is an honor that places HMML among America’s preeminent libraries and highlights its commitment to preserve the world’s most endangered manuscripts. HMML’s executive director, Father Columba Stewart, OSB, and the entire HMML team deserve congratulations for earning this award. They have my deep appreciation for their tireless efforts to ensure mankind has access to these sacred texts for generations to come,” said Representative McCollum. The congresswoman represents Minnesota’s 4th district, which includes Minneapolis and St. Paul as well as Ramsey County, northern Dakota County and western Washington County. 

“We are deeply gratified to receive this honor,” says Father Columba, “As a ‘library of libraries’ HMML has formed partnerships with over 480 libraries and archives, and has photographed more than 120,000 manuscripts in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and India. These handwritten books and archival materials are the primary resource for understanding the evolution of humankind’s diverse cultures. They represent a distinct record of the history, language, art, literature, and religious faiths of many communities. We partner with scholars, librarians, teachers, religious leaders and government officials around the world to ensure that written documents from endangered cultures will be digitally preserved, shared with scholars, and studied to reveal their significance for everyone’s better understanding of the world in which we live.” 

HMML applies best-practice standards to digital imaging, electronic cataloging, and archiving of digital data and is recognized as a world leader in digital imaging and electronic cataloguing. HMML partners with national and international organizations such as the Library of Congress, the Institut de recherche et d’histoire des textes (IRHT) in Paris, the Arcadia Fund of London, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. 

“Congratulations to the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library on receiving the National Medal for Museum and Library Service. The work you have done is an inspiration to libraries and museums throughout the nation,” said Susan Hildreth, IMLS Director. “With innovation, creativity and a great deal of heart you have achieved an outstanding level of public service.” 

The other institutions that will received the IMLS medal this year are: 

Weippe Public Library & Discovery Center, Weippe, ID
San José Public Library, San José, CA 
Alachua County Library District, Gainesville, FL 
Columbus Metropolitan Library, Columbus, OH 
Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY
EdVenture Children’s Museum, Columbia, SC
Erie Art Museum, Erie, PA 
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Richmond, VA 
Madison Children’s Museum, Madison, WI 

The 2011 award winning libraries and museums will be honored at a Washington, DC ceremony. Each library and museum also receives an honorarium of $10,000.

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HMML has nearly a half-century of experience in the area of photographic manuscript preservation.