2024 Nonprofit of the Year

The North Manchester Public Library (NMPL) has been awarded the Philly for the 2024 Quality of Place Nonprofit of the Year. With its robust programming for all ages, exceptional services, and commitment to the community, the Community Foundation is pleased to celebrate NMPL as the inaugural recipient of this award.

The Nonprofit of the Year is awarded to an organization that has high impact on the quality of life in the community.  Exceptional nonprofits have a well-defined mission and clear goals for achieving the charitable outcomes they want for the community. They are able to clearly define a need for their work and can marshal others to get behind their effort. Large or small, nonprofit organizations in Wabash County are effective community partners in shaping the place where people are highly engaged in helping others, improving life for many, and driving charitable causes forward.  The North Manchester Public Library is the heart of North Manchester and surrounding townships. Lending books is an important role in a democratic society, but the North Manchester Public Library is more than that. It is the hub of all things educational, entrepreneurial, and community engagement. It is the steam engine of a community that is engaged and vital.

NMPL, founded in 1908, has had a long and storied history. In 1912, the library celebrated the opening of its Carnegie building where it was located until 1995. With growing use and the need to expand the collection and programming, the library constructed a 20,000-sq. ft. building on Market Street, where it stands today. Since the move, the library’s collection has grown to over 67,000 books, numerous magazines, audiobooks, technology, and kits. The library staff use every inch of the space to foster educational opportunities, recreation, and life-long learning.

Over the decades, NMPL has been able to overcome challenges and adapt their services and programming to best serve their patrons. The Covid-19 pandemic is just one example. Through the pandemic, NMPL launched a curbside service, so that patrons could request books from home, and drive to the library to receive them without needing to leave their car. The library also hosted multiple online programs and virtual learning opportunities, such as online book clubs, cooking videos, and craft programs with accompanying take-home supply kits. The online programming was well received and many families and individuals participated. As restrictions lessened and the building re-opened, the library was now home to more families, especially families who were homeschooling or participating in e-learning. To better serve homeschool families, the library opened a Homeschool Resource Center, which has equipped parents with many valuable tools, including science kits and curriculum guides, to make homeschool a success.

Other notable accomplishments of the library have been meeting the needs of the neuro diverse community by creating a Sensory-2-Go section, which allows individuals to check out sensory items like sleep aids, fidget toys, and frustration free building blocks. They also are addressing food insecurity with its Tower Garden and outdoor raised beds, where fresh fruit, herbs, and veggies are grown and available for the community at no charge. Additionally, NMPL has installed a legal kiosk where the public can access free legal forms and search for legal assistance.

“We were excited to award the North Manchester Public Library the inaugural Philly for Nonprofit of the Year,” said Sam McFadden, Director of Community Grantmaking and Financial Management at the Community Foundation. “Its strong leadership, creative and engaging programming, and ability to serve community members in and outside the building were reasons the committee selected NMPL as the 2024 recipient. We look forward to seeing how the library will continue to adapt and meet the needs of individuals, families, and children in our community for generations to come.”