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About the Innovations Initiative

Thank you to all of our members who submitted to the 2023 Innovations Initiative! Award winners will be announced during a virtual event this spring. The date for this event is TBD.

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 2023 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 Categories 1

2023 Categories Brochure

This brochure provides an overview of the 2023 Innovations submission categories. An independent panel of judges will select Top Innovator and Honorable Mention award winners in each category, and winners will be announced during a virtual event this spring.

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!

2021 Top Innovators

Budgeting for Equity

Anti-Racism, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion | 2021 | Top Innovator

Enhanced Library Card

Civic and Community Engagement | 2021 | Top Innovator

Spend a Day with a Library Worker!

Communicating the Library’s Value | 2021 | Top Innovator

Surprise Me! Bundles

Customer Experience | 2021 | Top Innovator

Telehealth for Older Adults

Digital Equity and Citizenship| 2021 | Top Innovator

Caregiver Support Network

Education — Adults | 2021 | Top Innovator

Never Too Early: Reading in the NICU

Education — Birth Thru Teens | 2021 | Top Innovator

Project Management Office for Strategy and ROI

Institutional Change and Strategic Management | 2021 | Top Innovator

Resilient and Responsible Communities

Wellness, Safety and Sustainability | 2021 | Top Innovator

Creating a Workforce Development Ecosystem

Workforce and Economic Opportunity | 2021 | Top Innovator