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Leaders Library Card Challenge

The Leaders Library Card Challenge is a national effort to ensure that every child enrolled in school has access to the valuable learning resources available at public libraries. Launched in 2015 by President Obama as part of his ConnectED Initiative, the Library Card Challenge grew out of a belief that more intentional collaboration among chief elected officials, school superintendents and library directors could improve education outcomes for all students, begin to close achievement gaps and create a framework for an integrated approach to education. Participation in the Library Card Challenge begins with a letter of commitment signed by the chief elected official, school superintendent and library director.

The Leaders Library Card Challenge Strategic Guide: Creating High-Level Partnerships to Improve Education Outcomes

Expanding on the work of the Leaders Library Card Challenge, this Strategic Guide provides 10 steps library leaders can follow to launch and sustain a partnership between local government, school and library leaders to connect K-12 students to their public libraries as a path to improved education outcomes.

Sixty communities participated in the first call to action and collectively issued new library cards to more than one million school children in less than one year of work. Many of those cards were first-time virtual cards giving students instant 24/7 access to library resources using their student IDs. A report on the work of the first 60 communities is available at: Stepping Up to the ConnectED Library Challenge: A Call to Action.

ULC assembled resources from past participants into The Leaders Library Card Challenge Toolkit. The toolkit includes links to background information about the ConnectED Library Card Challenge, an overview of information about the initiative’s transition into The Leaders Library Card Challenge and, most importantly, tools and materials gathered from participating libraries across North America that are cultivating working partnerships with their school and local government systems to ensure public library access for all students, as well as teachers, media specialists and other school leaders.

View a snapshot of outcomes achieved by The Leaders Library Card Challenge participant libraries.


The Leaders Library Card Challenge is supported by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and is led by the Urban Libraries Council. This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services grant RE-00-15-0115-15.