May 24, 2022

Innovative Public Libraries: Urban Libraries Council Announces 2013 Top Innovators

The Urban Libraries Council announced their list of 2013 Top Innovators during a meeting at ALA in Chicago.

Judges selected from more than 140 applicants

Here are the libraries that received the honor. We’ve also included links to coverage of these services/programs from infoDOCKET, Library Journal, and School Library Journal.

ULC has also published this document (16 pages; PDF) with much more about each of the winning libraries as well as those libraries receiving honorable mentions.

ULC 2013 Top Innovators

Learning: Howard County Library System (MD) HiTech: The Road to a STEM Career delivers cutting-edge science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education using hands-on technology projects, experiential learning and peer-to-peer communications.

From LJ: Howard County Library System was also named 2013 Library of the Year by Library Journal

Civic and Community Engagement: Los Angeles Public Library (CA) Your Path to Citizenship Starts at the Los Angeles Public Library program provides a safe place for immigrants to access a wide range of services. Nearly 10,000 people have taken advantage of the resources available in “citizenship corners” in all 73 library locations.

Collections: Nashville Public Library (TN) Limitless Libraries increased circulation of school library resources by 79 percent since its launch in 2009. Today, it serves all 128 schools with two full-time collection development librarians and a materials budget of more than $1 million.

From infoDOCKET: Tennessee: Kent Oliver, Director of Nashville Public Library “Envisions Library of the Future” (July 9, 2013)

From SLJ: Libraries with No Bounds: How Limitless Libraries transformed Nashville Public Schools’ libraries (January 14, 2013)

Customer Experience: Calgary Public Library (AB) Grow a Reader Early Literacy App takes the fun, interactive contents from early childhood literacy programs and delivers it to parents via mobile devices. In less than two months, the Grow a Reader app was downloaded 1,200 times.

From infoDOCKET: Get to Know Calgary Public Library’s Free Early Literacy App “Grow a Reader”, Free for iPad and iPhone (March 27, 2013)

Economic and Workforce Development: Saint Paul Public Library (MN) NorthStar Digital Literacy Project has led to more outcome-driven digital literacy instruction by using assessments for pre- and post- tests and tailoring program content to the assessment standards. The certificate of mastery has also increased interest in computer literacy classes, particularly among non-English speakers.

Health, Wellness and Safety: Pima County Public Library (AZ) Library Nurses Program provides a safe and welcoming environment for all patrons and staff at library branches and minimizes the number of 911 calls. During the program’s first year, library nurses interacted with more than 2,800 patrons, and 911 medical calls from libraries fell by 20 percent.

From LJ: In the Library, With the Stethoscope (November 19, 2012)

From infoDOCKET:  Tucson: “More Than Just Books: Arizona Libraries Add Public Health Nurses” (March 31, 2013)

Operations: New York and Brooklyn Public Libraries (NY) BookOps: Shared Library Technical Services will combine acquisitions, cataloguing, processing, sorting and delivery of books and resources to the New York Public Library and Brooklyn Public Library and will save the two library systems up to $3.5 million annually.

From LJ: NYPL, Brooklyn Merge Technical Services (February 22, 2013)

Organizational Change and Strategic Management: San Francisco Public Library (CA) Community Impact through Renewed Engagement initiated a research process to renew community connections in five city neighborhoods. From walks in the neighborhoods, to ride-alongs with police, to interviews with community members, the teams spent three months gathering data and then presented their findings to community members and library staff.

Positioning the Library: Free Library of Philadelphia (PA) Flying High: Library of Philadelphia Touches Down in the International Airport provides library resources to airport travelers and employees. The library’s presence at the airport is part of its commitment to ensuring that the library remains a hub of possibilities for residents and those just passing through the region.

Sustainability: Sacramento Public Library (CA) Read and Feed: Partnerships for Building Healthy Communities supports a comprehensive healthy communities initiative in a neighborhood with a majority of its children living in poverty and limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

Special Honor

ULC is also honoring three libraries for their leadership in helping communities respond to crises.

Johnson County Library (KS) A Conversation about Sandy Hook engaged 94 community members for a conversation about the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

Queens Library (NY) Queens Library Responds to Hurricane Sandy by opening a mobile library site along the hard-hit waterfront to provide referral information and resource sheets for shelters, food and benefits. More than 8,300 visitors used the makeshift libraries during the first week.

Poudre River Public Library District (CO) Libraries as First Responders formed after a massive wildfire forced the evacuation of 3,000 people. Library staff worked with first responder agencies to serve as an information hub that provided up-to-date and reliable information throughout the crisis.

Read the Complete Announcement from the Urban Libraries Council

Direct to ULC Top Innovators (16 pages; PDF)

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.