Urban Libraries Council Recognizes Top Innovators

June 23rd, 2012

Winning Programs Showcase the Value & Impact of Libraries in the Community

The Urban Libraries Council (ULC) announced its 2012 Top Innovators during the ULC Annual Forum, June 21-22, in Newport Beach, CA. The 10 winners were selected by a panel of expert judges from nearly 200 applications in the third annual ULC Innovations Initiative.

“These innovations demonstrate the remarkable breadth, depth and impact of public libraries in the communities they serve,” said ULC President and CEO Susan Benton. “From helping people find jobs, to improving language skills among immigrants to increasing their job success, to teaching teens about healthy nutrition, public libraries are continuing to transform their roles in the community and, in the process, are building stronger communities.”

Categories for this year’s winning innovations are Civic & Community Engagement; Collections; Economic & Workforce Development; Education, Literacy & Lifelong Learning; Health, Wellness & Safety; Operations; Organizational Change & Strategic Management; Positioning the Library; Sustainability; and User Experience.

2012 Top Innovators

Civic & Community Engagement: Sacramento Public Library (CA) I Street Press has connected people, resources, and the means to turn ideas into printed products for 600 new writers and countless others who have participated in information sessions, outreach events, and writing and publishing classes.

Collections: Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County (OH) Virtual Information Center brought its growing audience of remote users closer to the library through reallocation of staff and improved customer service leading to a 300 percent increase in use of its downloadable collection.

Economic & Workforce Development: Brooklyn Public Library, New York Public Library, and Queens Library (NY) Workforce1 Expansion Centers connected library-based job seekers with hiring employers by creating a partnership with the NYC Department of Small Business Services and helped 740 unemployed New Yorkers find jobs during the first six months of operation.

Education, Literacy & Lifelong Learning: San José Public Library (CA) Work Wise: Improving Job Performance and Proficiency helped a targeted group of workers improve their English language and literacy skills through both classroom and job-related training which led to measureable improvement in job competence among 97 percent of participants.

Health, Wellness & Safety: San Antonio Public Library (TX) Building a Teen Nutrition Program created a comprehensive, hands-on, motivational program to combat obesity and promote healthy nutrition by first asking teens what challenges they faced in eating healthy and the issues they wanted to discuss.

Operations: Brooklyn Public Library (NY) Open Libraries Initiative leveraged operational innovations such as online fines payment and centralized collection development and system-wide statistical analysis to increase service hours by 21 percent, despite reduced funding and fewer employees.

Organizational Change & Strategic Management: Charlotte Mecklenburg Library (NC) Strategic Approach to Programming established a focused, responsive, cost-effective, and measureable program framework that emphasizes core services and responds to budget cuts, reduced staffing, and the recommendations of a Future of the Library Task Force.

Positioning the Library: King County Library System (WA) Take Time to READ promotes voluntary, recreational reading in unexpected places and positions the library as a respected source of information, inspiration, and learning.

Sustainability: Arlington Public Library (VA) Bikes, Buildings, and Broccoli expanded the library’s role in promoting, informing, and modeling the county government’s commitment to environmental sustainability including nurturing a bike-friendly community, reducing energy consumption in library buildings, and becoming a community gardening leader.

User Experience: Columbus Metropolitan Library (OH) “My Library” Strategy uses a new app-based website that encourages customers to create personal homepages featuring electronic resources, reading preferences, and local news feeds and supports the library’s vision of a customer-focused, technology-savvy system.

“We congratulate the 2012 Top Innovators and every library that submitted programs for this award,” Benton said. “Their ingenuity continues to demonstrate both the impact and unlimited potential of public libraries.”