The Mid-Continent Public Library system is in the running for a prestigious national award.

For 20 years, the Institute of Museum and Library Services has given the National Medal, and this year Mid-Continent is one of 15 library system across the county named as finalists. Fifteen museums also are finalists. Results should be announced in the coming weeks.

“I’m feeling really optimistic about it,” said Steven Potter, the system’s director and CEO.

Mid-Continent says the medal is considered the nation’s highest honor for libraries and museums. Potter said three things are crucial: a library’s commitment to its collection, community outreach, and a focus on early childhood services.

Mid-Continent, begun in 1965, is based in Independence. It has 31 locations, including the Midwest Genealogy Center in Independence, in Jackson, Clay and Platte counties, with a high concentration of them in Eastern Jackson County.

“When you look at the Mid-Continent Public Library system, we’ve continued to grow,” Potter said.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services describes itself as the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums.