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Local library system named finalist for statewide nonprofit award

Michael D. Smith
The Daily Ardmoreite
Staff members from the Southern Oklahoma Library System. The library system last week was named a finalist for an annual award from the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits.

The Southern Oklahoma Library System has been named a finalist for a statewide award given to nonprofits in the state. The system is one of 21 Oklahoma organizations chosen for the Oklahoma Nonprofit Excellence Award by the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits. 

“Excitement doesn’t even begin to describe my reaction to this announcement,” said Executive Director Gail Oehler in a statement. “I realize the impact SOLS has made in our eight library communities, but to be recognized statewide is a wonderful tribute and the Southern Oklahoma Library System is honored to be named a ONE finalist.” 

All organizations named finalists for the statewide award will receive at least $5,000. One winner in each of seven categories will receive $7,500 and an overall winner will receive $10,000. The Southern Oklahoma Library Service was named one of three finalists for the Community category along with Compassionate Hands in Yukon and the Tulsa Historical Society & Museum in Tulsa. 

“The ONE Award recipients are selected for their excellence in all areas, from impact and service delivery to clients, to reputation, to internal management and efficiencies,” Phil Lakin Jr., Chairman of the ONE Awards Selection Commission, said in a statement. 

Only five of the 21 finalist organizations are located outside of either the Oklahoma City or Tulsa metropolitan areas including Ada, Hollis, Woodward and Bartlesville. 

“Being selected among such significant Oklahoma nonprofit organizations reinforces the value of libraries and emphasizes the accomplished work of SOLS staff,” Oehler said. “It also cultivates our driving force in strengthening our communities with the many resources we provide to support lifelong learning.” 

The Southern Oklahoma Library System includes eight library branches across five counties, including branches in Ardmore, Wilson and Healdton. 

The Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits will announce winners from the Southern Hill Country Club in Tulsa on Saturday, April 24. The ceremony will also be livestreamed on the center’s website. According to the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits, the annual awards have given nearly $2 million to more than 200 Oklahoma nonprofits since 2008.