2015 Urban Leader Award Winner

Karl DeanThe Urban Libraries Council (ULC) is pleased to present former Nashville mayor Karl Dean with the 2015 Urban Leader Award in recognition of his work to advance Nashville Public Library’s (NPL) role as a vital education institution, supporting investment in the Library and helping position NPL as the central partner in citywide education initiatives.

While in office, Mr. Dean promoted the library as a vital resource for equal access to quality resources and education programs. In 2009, he launched Limitless Libraries, an award-winning, nationally recognized partnership model between the library and Metro Nashville Public Schools that provides over 57,000 students access to the full range of library resources. He also moved responsibility for the Nashville After Zone Alliance (NAZA), a coordinated network of afterschool programs, and the Mayor’s Summer Scholars Academy from the Mayor’s office to Nashville Public Library.

“It doesn’t get much better than when your biggest supporter is your Mayor,” said NPL Director Kent Oliver. “With Karl Dean’s support, Nashville Public Library has been able to create cutting edge library services and better meet the needs of Nashvillians in traditional ways. He was and is an inspiration for both the Board and staff at NPL.”

Mr. Dean regularly supported increases for library services in his budget proposals, contributing to a 20 percent increase in the library’s operating budget over the last three budget cycles, and helped the library secure $12 million in system-wide revitalization efforts, as well as funding for Studio NPL, a high-tech makerspace for teens, and new facilities to serve a growing and increasingly diverse city.

"Nashville Public Library is one of the jewels of our city," said Dean. "I can’t imagine where we would be without it. The library is, in some ways, the heart and soul of our city. In Nashville, education and learning must always come first. Education is what every city has to focus on first and foremost if it wants to keep growing and getting better. Education is the key that will open the door of opportunity for every citizen, and Nashville Public Library is unlocking that door to opportunity every day."