The Deschutes Cultural Coalition of the Oregon Cultural Trust has awarded the Deschutes Public Library with the 2020 Ben Westlund Memorial Award for its extraordinary level of delivery and access to library services and programs to the citizenry of Deschutes County. The award recognizes the library’s response to the programmatic accessibility challenges presented by the COVID pandemic. The recognition includes a $1,000 award to the Deschutes Public Library Foundation. A ceremony to celebrate the award recipient is postponed until February 2021.
During the pandemic, the library quickly pivoted from in-library programs to an online format. Within ten days of the library buildings closing because of COVID-19, library staff began creating programs online, from storytimes for babies to cultural programs for adults to classes for all ages. The A Novel Idea… Read Together program was redesigned in two weeks’ time and went completely digital for the month of April. More than 9,000 residents participated in A Novel Idea, making it the highest participant level in A Novel Idea’s 18-year history. Between April 1 and July 31, 2020 the library created more than 300 online programs and made the programs available for free on the library’s YouTube channel.
“We are extremely honored to receive the Ben Westlund Memorial Award from the Deschutes Cultural Coalition,” said Library Director Todd Dunkelberg. “This award recognizes that our efforts made a difference for thousands of Deschutes County residents. The Library will continue to serve our communities at the highest level possible. We are committed to creating access to amazing programs, story times, digital resources and classes for all ages to enjoy.”
The DCC initiated the annual Ben Westlund Memorial Awards in 2012 to honor an individual or organization who has worked tirelessly to forward the cause and development of arts and culture in central Oregon. As a member of the Oregon House of Representatives, Ben Westlund co-sponsored the bill that created the Oregon Cultural Trust. As a representative, Westlund represented much of Central Oregon, driving every road and cow path to assess the needs of his district. He was by nature a great supporter of unsung heroes and believed in creating access to arts and culture to everyone in this state. As a resident of Tumalo, he was a true advocate for the arts in Central Oregon. Ben was taken too early by cancer in 2010 at the age of 60 while serving as our Oregon State Treasurer.
To date, the Deschutes Cultural Coalition has honored the following individuals, programs and institutions: 2012 — Brad Tisdel, Americana Project in Sisters; 2013 — Brad Porterfield, Latino Community Association; 2014 — Carol Leone, Museum at Warm Springs; 2015 — City of Redmond; 2016 — Bob Boyd, Curator, High Desert Museum; 2017 — Les Joslin, U.S. Forest Service; 2018 — Pam Beezely, Sunriver Music Festival; 2019 — Jean Wells Keenan, Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show and 2020 — Deschutes Public Library.