The Midwest Independent Booksellers Association announced this morning that Judith Kissner is the recipient of the regional booksellers’ organization’s inaugural Midwest Bookseller of the Year Award. Kissner is the owner of Scout & Morgan Books in Cambridge, Minn., a town with a population of 8,000 people 50 miles north of the Twin Cities. The store celebrated its 10th anniversary last year.

The Midwest Booksellers Award is to be given annually to an indie bookseller who has “an extraordinary impact on his or her community within the previous year.” MIBA members nominate booksellers for the honor, and MIBA’s board then solicits input from community members and industry professionals in determining who is to receive the honor. The award winner receives an all-expenses-paid trip to the Heartland Fall Forum trade show, which is being held this year in Minneapolis, October 3-5.

While citing praise from store customers in its announcement of the award, MIBA also lauded Kissner’s advocacy this past year in raising funds to open a public library in Cambridge and her leadership in the town’s selection of Tim O’Brien’s novel, The Things They Carried, as Cambridge’s first community-wide read. Scout & Morgan hosted an offsite event with O’Brien and a panel discussion of Vietnam veterans that packed a local school auditorium.

Customer Tim Nelson told MIBA that “transformative" events like the panel discussion with O’Brien “simply would not happen if the sole sources for books in Cambridge were Amazon and the book aisle at Target. With Judith here, these events do happen, and she's made our community immeasurably richer in spirit.”