Columbus community members celebrated a special honor for its downtown library Oct. 3.

In recognition of being honored as one of the Best Small Libraries in America, the Columbus Public Library marked the achievement with a street party between the library and city hall. The event was hosted by Rob Ferrett, host of Wisconsin Public Radio’s “Central Time,” who is also the husband of library director Cindy Fesemyer.

“I like to think I have a close connection to Columbus,” Ferrett said.

Last month, Columbus was named a finalist for Library Journal’s Best Small Library in America award. The honor was created 11 years ago to feature and highlight the work of the nation’s small libraries. The achievement is given to libraries in communities with 25,000 people or less that show outstanding service to the community.

Columbus’ library was listed as one of two finalists with Texas’ Pottsboro Area Library. Both libraries will receive materials and services valued at $1,000, along with notoriety in the Library Journal. This year’s winning library was the Bounty County Library District in Idaho, which will receive $5,000 cash and a feature story in the Library Journal.

This week’s celebration featured several speakers, including Columbus Mayor Michael Thom who proclaimed Oct. 3 “Celebrate Your Library Day” in the community.

“The Columbus library traditionally meets the needs of our community and has blended with a time-tested commitment to do the very best to foster a love for reading and learning and give everyone access to a safe haven,” said Nan Hughes, from the Columbia County Library Board. “We know this library is here for all of us.”

Linda Parpart, a lifelong Columbus resident, was especially grateful for the library’s achievement. Parpart serves as president of the Friends of the Library. She said many people were involved in getting the library on the list of the best in the nation, with Fesemyer being at the forefront.

“The library board had the foresight to hire Cindy who brought so many new and innovative ideas to the job,” Parpart said. “Our community is changing and the library has to change with it. The library has become the city’s center and will keep changing to meet the needs of the community. I look forward to the day when the Columbus library is No. 1.”

While a strong, creative staff helps, Parpart said it takes support from the community for a library to thrive. She said the library is always looking for monetary support to maintain its facilities and programs.

Library Board President Peter Kaland said the board is very proud of the honor and believe it is well deserved.

“I would like to thank Mayor Thom, City Administrator Patrick Vander Sanden and the city council for their support of libraries in general,” Kaland said. “We’re fortunate to live in a state that has a supportive library program and we have to appreciate legislative efforts that have led to that.”

Kaland presented Fesemyer with a recognition from the board praising the dedicated work of the director and her staff. Fesemyer feels the honor should be shared with the Columbus and Fall River communities because they help the library succeed and grow.

“We’re No. 2!” Fesemyer said. “Thank you everyone for coming out and celebrating with us.”

Contact Kevin Damask at 608-963-7323 or on Twitter @kdamask