Skip Navigation
Back to Navigation


About the Innovations Initiative

Applications for the 2024 Innovations Initiative will open in Summer 2024. Please stay tuned to ULC's social media and newsletters for a date announcement.

Starting in 2010, ULC's awards program has recognized and raised the visibility of cutting-edge programs, strategies, tools, techniques and ideas from ULC’s entire membership.

ULC's Innovations Initiative showcases out-of-the box thinking and new alignment of resources to further education for people of all ages, address anti-racism race and digital equity in our communities, building awareness of what the library offers the community and enhance civic engagement for a strong democracy.

Search Our Database of Innovations Using These Filters:

Learn More About our Categories

Advocacy & Awareness

Innovations that increase the awareness and perceived value of the library’s programs, resources and community role, including:

  • “Welcome Back” reopening campaigns.
  • Partnerships to enhance the library’s reach to under-resourced audiences.
  • Strategic brand extensions and rebranding initiatives.
  • “Fine Free” policy change messaging.
Anti-Racism, Digital Equity and Inclusion

Innovations that directly address structural racism, systemic inequity and social injustice within the library and across the community, including:

  • Anti-racism, equity, diversity and inclusion embedded in strategic planning.
  • Organizing for anti-racism, equity, diversity and inclusion outcomes.
  • Anti-racist audits of library operations.
  • Community engagement initiatives, partnerships and conversations regarding systemic racism and social justice.
  • Partnerships to bring high-speed broadband directly to all households and ensuring community-wide digital literacy.
Data & Performance Management

Innovations that advance data-driven decision making, performance management and reporting, impact assessment and all-around process improvements, including:

  • Improving user experience through evaluation of key performance metrics.
  • Strategic planning informed by products of data collection systems.
  • Data driven evaluation and impact assessment systems.
  • Storytelling and communication of the community impact of library services and programs.

Innovations that empower and motivate community members to address public concerns and exercise their civil rights and liberties, including:

  • Initiatives that build policies and actions that preserve and protect democracy in our communities
  • Civic engagement and voter education and services.
  • Programming to support civility, kindness and communities working together.
  • Social activism forums.
Education: Children & Adults

Innovations that increase access to high-quality learning opportunities for all children and adults, advance personal and family learning goals and develop literacies of all kinds, including:

  • Education and community engagement partnerships with K-12 school leaders and local organizations.
  • Summer Learning and youth mentorship, internship and leadership initiatives.
  • Trauma-informed programming, caregiver workshops and learning circles.
  • Adult education for reading, media, digital, financial and other literacies.
Health & Wellness

Innovations that help library staff and customers better understand and make informed decisions about personal and public health issues, as well as environmental concerns, including:

  • Staff programming and community engagement partnerships to support well-being.
  • Mental health resources and staff support for dealing with trauma in the library.
  • Programs and partnerships to address public health and public safety.
  • Facility changes to reduce carbon emissions and enhance energy efficiencies.
Operations & Management

Innovations that shift internal culture and rethink positions, processes and team structures to drive greater equity, productivity and leadership at all staff levels, including:

  • Administration of business practices to create the highest level of efficiency possible within an organization.
  • Leadership and organization benchmarking and strategic planning.
  • Staff programming for well-being and professional development.
  • Internal/crisis communications systems and tools.
Workforce and Economic Development

Innovations that promote equitable economic mobility and opportunity for all local workers, jobseekers, entrepreneurs and businesses owners, including:

  • Entrepreneurship and advanced digital skill-building.
  • STEM as a career path.
  • Professional coaching and certification programs.
  • Business challenges and fellowships.
2023 Innovations Winners Brochure

2023 Innovations Brochure

Read our 2023 Innovations Brochure to learn more about the member libraries selected as Top Innovators and Honorable Mentions from among the entries submitted to the 2021 ULC Innovations Initiative!

Rewatch the 2023 ULC Innovations Initiative Celebration

Originally broadcast on 4/27/2023, this virtual event celebrated the award winners for ULC's annual Innovations Initiative! This year’s virtual program showcased the year’s Top Innovators and Honorable Mentions, with special video highlights of each Top Innovators. Attendees heard from ULC’s President and CEO Brooks Rainwater and got a special announcement from Seattle Public Library Chief Librarian Tom Fay.

Read our 2021 Innovations Brochure to learn more about the member libraries selected as Top Innovators and Honorable Mentions from among the entries submitted to the 2021 ULC Innovations Initiative!

2023 Top Innovators

Mobile Newsrooms in Libraries | Louisville Free Public Library

Advocacy & Awareness | 2023 | Top Innovator

Cell Phone Lending Program | Las Vegas-Clark County Library District

Anti-Racism, Digital Equity & Inclusion | 2023 | Top Innovator

Data-Driven Support for Equity in Budgets | Dallas Public Library

Data & Performance Management | 2023 | Top Innovator

"Rock Banned" Intellectual Freedom Campaign | Prince George's County Memorial Library System

Democracy | 2023 | Top Innovator

The World of Work for Teens | Queens Public Library

Education: Children & Adults | 2023 | Top Innovator

A Library That Reinforces Community + Wellness | Cambridge Public Library

Health & Wellness | 2023 | Top Innovator

Request It: Collaborative Acquisitions | Kansas City Public Library

Operations & Management | 2023 | Top Innovator

Be a Successful Street Vendor | Los Angeles Public Library

Workforce & Economic Development | 2023 | Top Innovator