FIVE STARS BCPL staff (l.-r.): Thelma Gross, Library Aid; Misty Little, Library Aid; Sandra Napier, Library Aid; Susan Pugh, Librarian. Inset: Executive Director Stephen D. Bowling. Photo ©2023 Bob Hower/Quadrant Inc., inset photo courtesy of Breathitt County Public Library

1024 College Avenue

Jackson, Kentucky 41339


Serving Breathitt County since 1894

Kentucky’s Breathitt County Public Library Honored as Inaugural Recipient of the Library Journal/Gale Libraries Defying the Odds Award
Library staff of five leverages strong community connections to provide residents with resources and support during pandemic closures, historic natural disasters 

Plain City, OH, & FARMINGTON HILLS, MI.  August 1, 2023 – Breathitt County Public Library (BCPL), in Jackson, Kentucky, is the inaugural recipient of the Library Journal/Gale Libraries Defying the Odds award. The Libraries Defying the Odds award, sponsored by Gale, a Cengage company, recognizes a U.S. public library that is stepping up for its community and staff in the face of adversity and celebrates library workers providing services, programming and collections for those who need them most.

 In recent years all libraries have faced unanticipated obstacles, from natural disasters to the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic to escalated intellectual freedom challenges. BCPL, serving a rural population of just over 13,500 in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, faced an exceptional series of hardships during the past three years and showed great creativity, grit and commitment in the ways it pivoted to serve its community. Beginning with COVID shutdowns in 2020 and continuing with historic flooding disasters in 2021 and 2022, BCPL’s small—but mighty—staff of five relied on ingenuity and close community connections to provide its residents with the services they needed to meet an evolving set of needs.

 “Over the past several years, extraordinary things were happening at this small, rural library in Kentucky. With their deep roots in the community, the library’s staff listened intently to what their neighbors wanted and needed in the face of life challenges that no one anticipated,” said Lisa Peet, Executive Editor, Library Journal. “BCPL exemplifies the critical ways that libraries serve our communities.”

 As the 2023 Libraries Defying the Odds award recipient, BCPL will receive $10,000 in grant money from Library Journal and Gale and is profiled in the August issue of the magazine in print and online. Also featured in LJ’s August issue is South Carolina’s Charleston County Public Library, under the leadership of Executive Director Angela Craig, earning an honorable mention for its work helping to combat food insecurity in tangible, sustainable ways that involve the entire community.

 About Library Journal
Founded in 1876, Library Journal is one of the oldest and most respected publications covering the library field. Over 75,000 library directors, administrators, and staff in public, academic, and special libraries read LJ. Library Journal reviews over 8,000 books, audiobooks, videos, databases, and websites annually, and provides coverage of technology, management, policy, and other professional concerns. For more information, visit Library Journal is a publication of Media Source Inc., which also owns School Library Journal, The Horn Book, Junior Library Guild, and AKJ Education.

About Cengage Group and Gale
Cengage Group, an education technology company serving millions of learners in 165 countries, advances the way students learn through quality, digital experiences. The company currently serves the K–12, higher education, professional, library, English language teaching and workforce training markets worldwide. Gale, part of Cengage Group, believes in the power and joy of learning. For schools, the company helps drive positive outcomes by providing essential, curriculum-aligned content that empowers educators to solve curriculum challenges and meet students where they are. Today that includes supporting distance and social and emotional learning as well as equity and inclusion goals. Gale’s K–12 offerings extend from educational databases and custom eBook collections to instructional tools and professional development resources. For more information, please visit: