Courtesy Chicago Park District

The Institute of Museum and Library Services announced Chicago’s Garfield Park Conservatory as one of 10 recipients of this year’s National Medal for Museum and Library Service. The nation’s highest honor conferred on museums and libraries for service to the community, the National Medal celebrates institutions that make a difference for individuals, families, and communities. The National Medal will be presented at a celebration in Washington, D.C. on November 14.

Garfield Park Conservatory is a source of pride to previously neglected neighborhoods. It works with residents to transform vacant lots and eyesores into community gardens, offers workshops that teach participants how to grow food and flowers at home, instructs teachers about ways to use the conservatory’s resources in classrooms, and serves as a catalyst to revitalize Chicago’s West Side. So far, the Garfield Park Community Garden Network has created 18 community gardens covering two acres of urban landscape. The Garfield Park Conservatory is owned by the Chicago Park District and operated in partnership with the Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance.

“Museums and libraries serve as community gathering places and centers for lifelong learning, and we are very proud to name Garfield Park Conservatory one of this year’s National Medal for Museum and Library Service winners,” said Susan Hildreth, director, Institute of Museum and Library Services. “This year’s National Medal recipients demonstrate the many ways libraries and museums build strong communities and provide opportunities for individual success. Innovative programs are teaching residents how to read late in life, inspiring children to dream, using technology to offer e-books on the go, bridging cultural differences, and more.”

“Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance was founded by community residents and so this medal is as much for our community as it is for the Conservatory. We are honored to be able to represent our community, and we are proud of the work we are doing together,” said Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance President Eunita Rushing. Eighteen-year-old Tiara Livingston, a member of the Conservatory’s Green Teens program, will travel to Washington and share the impact Garfield Park Conservatory has had on her life during the November 14 celebration.

This year’s honorees exemplify the nation’s great diversity of libraries and museums and include a school library, county library systems, individual libraries, children’s museums, an art museum, science centers, a park conservancy, and more, hailing from 10 different states.  Medal winners are selected from nationwide nominations of institutions that demonstrate innovative approaches to public service, exceeding the expected levels of community outreach. For a complete list of 2012 recipients and to learn more about the 2012 National Medal winners, please visit