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(FORT WAYNE, IN) – The Allen County Public Library is pleased to announce that its Genealogy Center and Rolland Center for Lincoln Research have each been honored with coveted 2023 GEMmy awards from the Midwest Travel Journalists Association, Inc. The Library, represented by Director of Special Collections Curt Witcher, received the awards at a presentation on Thursday, June 1 at 1 p.m. at the Main Library. The GEMmys recognize exceptional experiences and are often new, small, out of the way, or thus far undiscovered by mainstream travelers.

The GEMmy award was created by professional travel journalists and industry leaders who are members of the Midwest Travel Journalists Association, Inc. The award recognizes attractions, tours, facilities, accommodations, and experiences that exemplify the joy, discovery, and education that travel can bring. MTJA members travel extensively around the USA and internationally, and nominate the most outstanding “gems of travel” for GEMmy recognition.

The award nominators experienced the Library’s Genealogy Center and Rolland Center when attending the April/May 2022 MTJA Conference in Fort Wayne, hosted by Visit Fort Wayne. Their experiences ranged from personal family connections to historical awe.

The Genealogy Center was nominated by Elizabeth Granger of Nunica, Michigan and supported by Kathy Rodeghier (Western Springs, Illinois), and Jackie Sheckler Finch (Bloomington, Indiana).

“Despite traveling the world looking for family members, we actually found their records here in Fort Wayne including family from Croatia, Germany, and Ireland,” said nominator Granger. “It’s incredible that years ago, a Fort Wayne librarian was so enthralled with genealogy that he convinced the library to create what is now the second-largest depository of genealogy information in America. Even better than all that information is the warm welcome from those who work in the center. They’re positive, helpful, excited, and knowledgeable.”

The Rolland Center was nominated by Damaine Vonada of Xenia, Ohio with the support of Susan Pollack (Huntington Woods, Michigan) and Diana Lambdin Meyer (Parkville, Missouri). Their nomination calls the Rolland Center: “a treasure trove of presidential mementos – and history – in an accessible place. The Rolland Center has created a space where we better understand the time and the challenges that faced Abraham Lincoln. Much of the success of this space is the staff that are so passionate about their subject.”

The awards were presented at a small ceremony at the Main Library. Curt Witcher received the award on behalf of the two centers.

“We are so honored to receive this recognition from the MTJA and to join the prestigious classes of other fellow GEMmy Award winners,” Witcher said. “Every day, we strive to bring history to life through the stories of our families—the stories of our ancestors. We work to make visitors to our community see the ACPL as the perfect destination to learn more about their own stories, and the power of knowing those stories.”

The 2023 GEMmy Awards will be on display in the Genealogy Center and Rolland Center respectively.



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