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Setting the Standard

Library History

RCPL’s exceptional achievements and its contributions to the community have been enhanced by its outstanding, up-to-date materials in all formats; state-of-the-art technology; highly trained staff; a multitude of innovative services; superb programming for all ages; and beautiful, functional facilities located strategically throughout the county. Through many years of thoughtful planning and skillful implementation, RCPL has become a leader among libraries in the state, the Southeast and the nation.

In June 2001, RCPL was named the 2001 National Library of the Year. Given by Library Journal and The Gale Group, one of the foremost vendors of information databases and reference materials, the award is the highest honor a library can achieve. This Library of the Year award has been presented annually since 1992, making Richland County the tenth library to earn this recognition.

Richland County Public Library was selected for the honor based on three key factors: service to the community, creativity and innovation in developing specific community programs, and leadership in creating programs that can be emulated by other libraries. Editorial board members of Library Journal, the president of The Gale Group’s Library Education Division and librarians from across the U.S. chose the recipient.

In 2002, RCPL ranked sixth among urban libraries serving populations of 250,000-499,999 according to the recent HAPLR Ratings, 2002 (Hennen’s American Public Library Ratings.) Thomas J. Hennen Jr. outlined the survey in the October 2002 issue of American Libraries, the magazine of the American Library Association.

Among nearly 9,000 public libraries in the United States and Canada, only four libraries in the Southeast ranked in the top 100-RCPL and three Virginia libraries. RCPL ranked the second highest of all libraries in the Southeast serving populations of 250,000 or more (Prince William Public Library System in Virginia scored 821; RCPL’s HAPLR score was 752; and Fairfax County Public Library in Northern Virginia outside Washington, DC scored 730.).

The Richland County Public Library has been ranked nationally each time the HAPLR Ratings were conducted, coming in at fourth in its population category in 2000. The HAPLR scores are based on 15 factors, with the focus on circulation, staffing, materials and reference service.