Outstanding Public Library Programs Recognized As ULC's Top Innovators

July 8th, 2011

Winning Programs Emphasize Foundations of 21st Century Library Success

The Urban Libraries Council (ULC) recently unveiled its 2011 Top Innovators during its Annual Conference, June 24-25, in New Orleans. Eleven outstanding library programs were selected by a panel of expert judges from more than 200 applications.

"These innovations reflect the real work that occurs in libraries every day-- work that goes well beyond the traditional role of libraries as book lenders," said ULC President and CEO Susan Benton. “The submissions we received this year were all worthy of recognition. These programs emphasize the foundations of 21st century library success and demonstrate how innovative programming can transform communities.”

ULC launched its first Innovations Initiative last year to capture and showcase creative programs that have achieved significant results and can be implemented in other libraries. Categories for this year's winning innovations are civic engagement; collections; economic and workforce development; education; health, wellness, and safety; literacy; organizational change; operations; positioning the library; sustainability; and user experience.

The 2011 award-winning programs are:

Civic Engagement: Calgary Public Library Civic Literacy program which educated voters about the 2010 municipal elections resulted in a 25 percent increase in voter turnout.

Collections: Johnson County Library Streamlining Materials Handling overhauled library operations leading to significant annual savings in operations and staffing and a new business culture for ensuring cost-effective services.

Economic and Workforce Development: Houston Public Library WeCAN Works delivered drop-out prevention, GED success, digital literacy, and workforce skills training to more than 320,000 residents since its 2009.

Education: Chicago Public Library YOUMedia provided a 21st century learning space for more than 5,000 teens which led to a dramatic increase in the use of library resources, a leveling up of their media production skills, and a new Chicago education hub where learning happens anyplace, anytime.

Health, Wellness and Safety: Pima County Public Library Refugee Health Fair reached more than 1,500 refugees living in midtown Tucson offering both immediate medical care and connections to primary care to serve longer-term health needs.

Literacy: Pierce County Library System Our Children are Ready for Reading produced significant gains in pre-literacy skills for a group of toddlers whose in-home care providers received training, literacy tools, and coaching from the library.

Operations: San Francisco Public Library Gen PL: The Next Generation of Library Leaders program is building the next generation of library leaders through a multi-year leadership development strategy.

Organizational Change: Edmonton Public Library Building Our Brand from the Inside Out led to new values, mission, and promise statements and a renewed passion among staff for the library’s exciting “we share” vision.

Positioning the Library: Springfield City Library A Brighter Future for Springfield Today is a long-range planning process which addressed how to reverse the city’s downward economic spiral – rather than library needs – leading to a new city-wide focus on building Springfield’s “brighter future” and a new library stature as a core public service.

Sustainability: Greensboro Public Library Kathleen Edwards Environmental Education Center has become a respected and valued environmental education hub by modeling green practices and providing environmentally focused programs that reach more than 7,000 people annually.

User Experience: Orange County Library System Right Service at the Right Time helps residents successfully navigate e-government services through library computers and easy-to-use kiosks.

"We congratulate all of our winners and every library that submitted programs for this award," Benton said. "Collectively they provide great examples of how public libraries play an important role as the most trusted public institution in local government – a safe, welcoming, and innovative resource for everyone in the community.”