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Friday, May 24, 2024

WRL Receives Two State Awards

Sensory corner in the Kiwanis Kids Idea Studio (Provided by WRL)

WILLIAMSBURG — Williamsburg Regional Library (WRL) announced on April 5 that it received two awards from the Virginia Public Library Director’s Association (VPLDA) — the Outstanding Service Innovation award and the Gold Standard of Excellence award. 

“These accolades are a testament to the hard work and dedication of WRL staff and volunteers, as well as the robust support from local jurisdictions and the Friends of WRL Foundation, all of whom help make this a continually award-winning library system,” said Interim Library Director Sandy Towers.  

The Outstanding Service Innovation award recognized the library’s programs, services, and accessibility features for neurodiverse users, it said. The library has implemented several initiatives to expand accessibility, including the installation of a custom-built sensory corner, the introduction of a monthly program for users with autism and sensory issues to enjoy a calmer environment, and providing Special Needs Communication Guides at all public service desks. 

The recently installed sensory corner inside the Kiwanis Kids Idea Studio at the James City County Library offers children a giant calming bubble tube, touch lights and light ropes, fidget toys to play with, and a place to relax in a quieter, low-light area, WRL added. The sensory corner in Kiwanis Kids Idea Studio was supported by the Friends of WRL Foundation, all the local Kiwanis clubs, and the Shoo Fly Dairy Bar. 

The library also introduced Quiet Time for the Spectrum, a monthly program where children and caregivers can enjoy the Idea Studio for an hour before the library is open to the public, offering them a less stimulating experience. 

Additional services and programs for neurodiverse users include sensory toys available for checkout from the popular Learning to Go collection; sensory-friendly movie showings; and the Next Chapter Book Club, a book group for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, WRL said. 

“The Outstanding Service Innovation award highlights WRL’s dedication to improving accessibility and inclusivity for neurodiverse users,” said Interim Library Director Sandy Towers. “Through efforts spearheaded by Youth Services librarian Linda Niedzwick, WRL has created additional spaces and services that foster a true sense of belonging and community.” 

WRL also received the Gold Standard of Excellence for exemplary performance across all public service categories: governance and administration, funding, staffing and staff development, access and services, collections, facilities, technology, programming, publicity, and advocacy. 

These categories align with the Library of Virginia’s Standards for Virginia Public Libraries, which provides benchmarks for direction and aspiration for state library systems, WRL said.  

Learn more about WRL by visiting

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