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CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Camp Foster has received the Department of Defense’s highest honor for a military library.

After a three-year transformation and an inspection in February, the library has become the first in DOD to be dubbed a “Premier Library.”

“We’re the first in the Marine Corps — the first in the Department of Defense — to win this award,” said Bob Bothel, director of Lifelong Learning for Marine Corps Community Services, Marine Corps Bases Japan. He is in charge of all education centers and libraries on the bases.

“The program started in 1999 and we’re the first to meet the standards,” Bothel said. “I’m very proud of our people. It’s a great achievement for MCCS and Marine Corps bases in Japan. It attests to how the command feels about our libraries. We get command support that is second to none.”

Brig. Gen. James F. Flock, commanding general of Marine Corps bases in Japan, presented the award to Bothel in a brief ceremony Wednesday afternoon at the library.

“There’s a checklist that all military libraries must be in compliance with,” Bothel said. “Then there’s the things you have to do beyond that to be considered for premier status. We worked hard for three years to achieve this.

“We had to install separate quiet study rooms, color copiers and printers, provide Internet access and year-round air conditioning, for starters,” he said.

The library also had to prove it has a highly developed technological and research capability, a technical services area, special viewing and listening rooms for multimedia materials and a distinct administrative area with staff offices and break area.

The award, given by John M. Molino, deputy undersecretary of defense for military community and family policy, lauds the Foster Library for the distinction of being the first to reach premier status.

Part of the award certificate states: “This is a notable achievement that attests to the library staff’s personal commitment to excellence in program management and customer service.”

Bothel said some of the library’s highest achievements are a summer reading program that involved 900 children this year, a monthly “art connections” exhibit, preschool story time and a United Through Reading program for deployed servicemembers who want help with staying in touch with their children.

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