The Edge Initiative

April 17th, 2014


ULC & National Coalition Celebrate Successful Launch of
the Edge Initiative for Public Libraries

New Management and Leadership Tool for Libraries
Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

April 17, 2014 (Chicago) - As cities, towns and counties across the United States celebrate National Library Week, public libraries are using a new management and leadership tool called Edge. Launched in late January 2014, over 1,700 public libraries are using Edge to explore the strategic needs of their community and align their public technology services with critical community priorities.  

Recognizing that communities thrive when people have opportunities to enrich and improve their lives through open access to information, communication and technology services, Edge enables public libraries to assess their current technology, identify areas of excellence and strengthen policies, practices and resources.

Edge provides a tool set that helps library staff with strategic planning and resource allocation while strengthening communications with local leaders. By using Edge, libraries are able to demonstrate how their work adds value and supports strong outcomes for the community.

“Our police and fire departments, our emergency communications department and our recreation department all participate in accreditation programs. Like these departments, libraries need to go through an evaluation process that takes national standards, benchmarks, outcomes and measures to define the service that they provide,” said Rashad Young, City Manager of Alexandria, Virginia. “Being City Manager, it really does make a difference when our departments have used professional tools like Edge to say ‘here is what the best practices say about where we should be and how we should be delivering services, here is how we compare against these benchmarks and here is what we need to do to meet or exceed these best practices.”

In today’s public libraries, patrons attend technology training and use public computers and internet-access to apply for jobs, complete college applications, advance skills through professional certification programs, get homework help, receive literacy training, access government, financial, health information and much more.  

“Edge is not just about providing high quality technology, it is also about knowing your community and the types of technology programs that your community needs,” said Anne Masters, Library Director of Pioneer Library System in Oklahoma. “The Pioneer Public Library is conducting a system-wide community assessment survey in preparation for a strategic planning process.  We will integrate our Edge results into our strategic plan and discuss it with our city government and community planning group.”

Just three months following the national launch of the Edge Initiative, nearly 20% of public libraries have adopted this new professional tool. The Initiative was developed by a coalition of leading library and local government organizations with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and led by the Urban Libraries Council.

“We’re pleased to offer Edge to libraries across the United States – large and small, urban, suburban and rural – to help them continuously plan and work with key stakeholders,” stated Susan Benton, President and CEO of the Urban Libraries Council. “By connecting public libraries with the strategic goals and outcomes of local leaders, Edge is making a difference in communities across the country.”

To sign up to become an Edge library, please visit:

For more information about the Edge Initiative, please contact Alison Saffold, Senior Communications Manager at the Urban Libraries Council at (312) 676-0953 or email: