New Castle, DE – Today, the Delaware Library Association announced New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer the recipient of the Distinguished Service Citation. This citation recognizes an individual who is a library supporter who has been active in supporting library development and services in Delaware.
Throughout his tenure as County Executive, Meyer has been an advocate for libraries, supporting and promoting library initiatives and services before and during the pandemic. In March 2020, health and safety concerns led County Executive Meyer to take the unprecedented step to close all county libraries in order to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. As the pandemic continued, libraries worked to re-establish service in a manner that complied with CDC guidelines. To provide access while protecting staff, libraries launched a curbside service with County Executive Meyer’s enthusiastic support. The county Executive attended the program’s launch at the Newark Free Library, assisting with curbside delivery to help promote the service.
“I am humbled by this recognition from the Delaware Library Association,” said County Executive Meyer. “COVID-19 has challenged all of us to rethink how we serve our community, and I am so grateful to Diana Brown and our team of talented librarians and staff who have created new, fun and innovative programs such as online story times, cooking classes, Libby (online library), Easter EggCam and more to continue to provide safe, vibrant community places, even in the face of a global pandemic.”
“The selection of County Executive Matt Meyer as the recipient of the Delaware Library Association’s highest honor is a great choice,” said Annie Norman, Delaware State Librarian. “County Executive Meyer is an effective collaborator and appreciates libraries’ leadership role in the social infrastructure for the benefit of Delawareans.”
The Census Bureau's 2018 American Community Survey (ACS) estimated, almost 10% of households in Delaware did not have any internet service. Recognizing the pandemic made the digital divide in the community more acute, the County Executive’s office worked with libraries to increase access. In addition to creating new hotspot locations, the county collaborated with the Delaware Division of Libraries to extend WiFi access to the libraries’ parking lots and purchased 100 Chromebooks to distribute to patrons. These actions helped provide digital access to the hardest to reach communities.
During the pandemic, the County Executive’s office continued to encourage partnerships between community organizations and libraries. In November 2020, the Woodlawn library served as a host for West End Neighborhood House’s 30th annual turkey giveaway. With Mr. Meyer’s assistance, libraries distributed free books to families as part of the program.
Throughout the pandemic, County Executive Meyer has been concerned with promoting staff safety and reducing risk of COVID-19 infections amongst staff. The county offers weekly testing at each library branch in addition to daily testing at sites around the county. County Executive Meyer also worked with the State Librarian, Dr. Annie Norman, to advocate for the State and DHSS to include library staff workers in Phase 1B of the vaccine schedule.
As County Executive, Mr. Meyer has attended and helped launch numerous library programs. He can be counted on to attend the start of the libraries’ summer reading program or the launch of a new library card campaign. When the New Castle Public Library launched its Bike Mobile, he took the bike on its inaugural ride at the Separation Day Parade to help promote the library’s service.
Mr. Meyer has been particularly active in promoting initiatives related to literacy and the arts. Each year Mr. Meyer participates in New Castle County Reads, a program that promotes literacy, library usage, and community conversation by encouraging New Castle County residents to read the same book and attend a discussion with the author. He has also been a strong supporter of the PAGES and IMAZINE magazines, a publication for and by children and teens.
For his dedication to libraries as community centers, education resources, and supporting and promoting library services, the DLA is pleased to honor County Executive Meyer with the 2021 Distinguished Service Citation.