Research Publications

ULC creates a variety of publications that disseminate cutting-edge knowledge and analysis on topics that are critical to the continued transformation of libraries as community change agents and problem solvers. ULC publications are intended to advance knowledge within and beyond the library community.

ULC Leadership Briefs

Our Leadership Briefs are four-page monographs that offer condensed analysis of critical issues driving library performance today.

Libraries Supporting Family Learning"Libraries Supporting Family Learning"

With widespread recognition that traditional education systems alone cannot meet today’s learning needs, libraries have emerged as powerful 21st-century education leaders. This Leadership Brief builds on the partnership between the Urban Libraries Council (ULC) and the National Center for Families Learning (NCFL) to increase awareness of the role that libraries play in creating opportunities for families to learn together.


ULC Leadership Brief - Building Connected Communities "Building Connected Communities"

Public libraries have established themselves as vital resources in a technology-driven world. This Leadership Brief highlights the role of libraries as community technology leaders who are uniquely qualified to bridge digital divides, support community priorities, and improve quality of life, working in close partnership with community leaders. It provides examples of how libraries are leveraging technology to deliver services that meet community needs and identifies six action strategies to achieve the best possible opportunities for the entire community.

Partners for Education"Partners for Education"

This Leadership Brief highlights the changing education landscape and the progressive work of public libraries to meet the diverse education needs in the communities they serve. It identifies seven action strategies for local elected and appointed officials to pursue with public libraries to improve education outcomes.


Libraries Igniting Learning"Libraries Igniting Learning"

Libraries are embracing a central role in education that is built around new modes of learning which are active, collaborative, interest driven, and participatory. This Brief examines how libraries can leverage their capacities, assets, connections and stature to ignite learning in the communities they serve.  It offers six strategies to help libraries become more powerful learning institutions.

Maximizing the Library-Foundation Partnership"Maximizing the Library-Foundation Partnership"

Maximizing the Library-Foundation Partnership highlights the growing importance of library foundations and identifies critical leadership roles for foundations, executives and boards to maximize the library-foundation relationship.

Library Leaders Owning Leadership“Library Leaders Owning Leadership”

This Brief identifies five leadership themes and five roles for library executives in the rapidly changing and increasingly complex public library environment. It provides food for thought to encourage and support individual action, increased self-awareness, and ultimately success in leading the continued transformation of libraries.


Library Priority Community-Civic Engagement“Library Priority: Community-Civic Engagement”

How do you move libraries from supporting players to valued leaders in today’s civic engagement space? This Brief identifies five leadership roles to help libraries broaden their impact as the go-to resource for building a culture of enlightened, engaged, and empowered citizens.


Five Leadership Roles for Library Trustees“Five Leadership Roles for Library Trustees”

This Brief advances the role of trustees as visionaries, connectors, fundraisers, a voice for the library and strong team players in elevating and positioning the library in its community.


ULC Reports

ULC also publishes full-length reports that offer more in-depth knowledge and analysis.

Stepping Up to the Civic Engagement ChallengeCivic Engagement: Stepping Up to the Civic Engagement Challenge

This report makes the case for public libraries as ideal civic engagement leaders. Based on current research, in-depth interviews and discussion highlights from ULC’s 2011 Partners for Success convening, Stepping Up to the Civic Engagement Challenge is intended for a wide and varied audience of library, local government, business, civic and philanthropic leaders looking for sound ideas and effective strategies to advance the promise of citizens working together.

Partners for the Future Public Libraries and Local Governments Creating Sustainable CommunitiesPartners for the Future: Public Libraries & Local Government Creating Sustainable Futures

This report details how a strategic and successful relationship between the public library and local government can be formed in order to accomplish sustainability for a community. The report focuses on the “triple bottom line” of sustainable development: economic prosperity, environmental quality and social equity, providing numerous examples of high-impact partnerships in specific communities.

Making Cities StrongerMaking Cities Stronger: Public Library Contributions to Local Economic Development

This report examines how public libraries contribute to people, technology and the quality of life. Funding for this report was provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation.


The Engaged LibraryThe Engaged Library: Chicago Stories of Community

This report highlights several Chicago public libraries and their efforts in strengthening the community and effectively enhancing the well-being and capacities of urban neighborhood residents, associations, non-profits and public institutions.


Public Libraries Duild the Global VillagePublic Libraries Build the Global Village

This report provides examples of ULC member libraries transitioning immigrants into American life by welcoming, support and integrating these new residents from all over the world.



Toolkit for Public Libraries Build the Global VillageToolkit for Public Libraries Build the Global Village

This Toolkit, a companion to Public Libraries Build the Global Village offers exercises your staff, board and community groups can use to address and welcome the new citizens of your community and our nation. Within the workbook, ULC also provides a CD that offers additional programs and civic engagement strategies for your team to use.