Thursday, May 8, 2014 – Washington, DC.
I was thrilled this week to be invited to the White House to see our son Christopher (Force) Howe being acknowledged for his work with the Chicago Public Library.
The National Medal for Museum and Library Service honors outstanding institutions that make significant and exceptional contributions to their communities. Selected institutions demonstrate extraordinary and innovative approaches to public service, exceeding the expected levels of community outreach. The winners are honored at a National Medal award ceremony held in Washington, D.C.
After introductory remarks by First Lady Michelle Obama, I.M.L.S. Congressional Affairs Officer Gladstone Payton presented the medals. In each case, an official who represented the institution was accompanied by a member of the institution’s host community, to provide a human interest story for reporters and make concrete what the institution does for its community.
Mrs. Obama posed for pictures and briefly spoke with the recipients while Gladstone explained why the institution in question was special to the community member who accompanied its representative. In this video, one can see Mrs. Obama gave the Chicago contingent an enthusiastic welcome that drew appreciative laughs from the audience.
Regarding the C.P.L., Payton said, “Accepting the award for the Chicago Public Library, Chicago, Illinois are Brian Bannon, Commissioner of the Chicago Public Library and community member Chris Force.”
Chris Force started his business at the Chicago Public Library. He is founder and editor-in-chief of commercial publisher Alarm Press. When Chris decided he wanted to start a magazine business, he turned to the library.
Using library resources, he learned about management, marketing, and financing. The library was his business incubator, where he booked meeting rooms and found free databases to source leads. The librarians gave him guidance and support, and introduced him to publications he never knew existed. Chris now employs about 120 individuals. He makes them all get library cards and receive orientation training at Chicago Public Library. Chris says, ‘Sometimes as a small business owner all you need is anyone, even your local librarian, to give you some encouragement. Chicago is a great city for that, and the Chicago Public Library is great resource for any small business owner.’
In an I.M. L.S. press release, Bannon stated, “We are dedicated to serving as Chicago’s hub for free access to information, inspiration and the ideas of the day, and want to thank IMLS for this national recognition of the work we are doing.”
Force stated, “The staff at Chicago Public Library is fantastic. Along with being knowledgeable, they’re very supportive—and sometimes as a small business owner all you need is anyone, even your local librarian, to give you some encouragement. Chicago is a great city for that, and the CPL is great resource for any small business owner.”
In this video, Force explains his story in his own words. One of the ways librarians helped him start ALARM Magazine was by showing him the book How to Start a Magazine. Another way was by showing him the Hoovers database, which led him to potential advertisers.