Urban Libraries Council Recognizes Library as a Top Innovator

Demonstrates Value and Impact of Public Libraries in the Community

The Urban Libraries Council (ULC) announced Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library as one of its 2014 Top Innovators during the Next Libraries Conference, June 22-24, in Chicago. A panel of expert judges selected our Librarians Facilitating Community Change from more than 180 applications in the fifth annual ULC Innovations Initiative.

ULC’s Innovations Initiative highlights members’ programs, services and operating practices that demonstrate their leadership by creating new approaches and practices to ensure the public library continuously meeting the ever-changing needs of the community. Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library won in the category of Civic and Community Engagement.

The library has served as a convener for community conversations and librarians have served as trusted facilitators. In 2013 the Librarians and management staff received Effective Facilitator/Masterful Meetings training sponsored by Heartland Visioning. The librarians now use these tools to increase productivity, improve communication and participation, and achieve superior outcomes in the library and in the community, whether that’s leading a library team or facilitating a community discussion for Heartland Visioning, or the recent Community Conversation on Poverty.

“21st century public libraries serve as conveners and facilitators in their communities and the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library has pursued those roles as a way to have a real and lasting impact on making our community a better place to live, work and learn, “explains CEO Gina Millsap. “When our librarians are at the table in any community conversation, they have the skills as facilitators and information professionals to ensure a good process and better outcomes.”

In announcing the 2014 Top Innovators, ULC President and CEO Susan Benton said these libraries and every library that submitted programs for the Innovations Awards this year demonstrate the amazing work that takes place in libraries every day.

“On behalf of the ULC community throughout North America, I congratulate the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library for being selected as a 2014 Top Innovator. You and your library staff are commended for setting the pace for growth, change and innovation in the field,” Benton said. “Each submission highlights exactly how public libraries create value and impact in local communities.”

The 2014 Top Innovators, including Honorable Mentions in the 10 categories are:

Category: Leading Learning
Top Innovator: Grand Rapids Public Library (MI) DigiBridge
Honorable Mention: Palo Alto City Library (CA) makeX: Teen Mobile Makerspace

Category: Civic and Community Engagement
Top Innovator: Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library (KS) Librarians Facilitate Community Change
Honorable Mention: Wichita Public Library (KS) Activate Wichita

Category: Collections
Top Innovator: Santa Clara County Library District (CA) SCCLD – JukePop Launch Self-Publishing
Honorable Mention: Pikes Peak Library District (CO) Waldo Canyon Fire Digital Collection

Category: Customer Experience
Top Innovator: Denver Public Library (CO) DPL Connect: A Pedal-Powered Bookmobile
Honorable Mention: Edmonton Public Library (AB) Great Stuff: EPL Makes It Personal!

Category: Economic and Workforce Development
Top Innovator: Memphis Public Library (TN) JobLINC: Mobile Bus for Job Seekers and Employers
Honorable Mention: King County Library System (WA) Building a Workforce that Reflects Our Community

Category: Health, Wellness, and Public Safety
Top Innovator: Houston Public Library (TX) Healthy L.I.F.E
Honorable Mention: Pima County Public Library (AZ) Santa Rosa Snacks

Category: Operations
Top Innovator: Aurora Public Library (CO) Library in a Big Box
Honorable Mention: Cuyahoga County Public Library (OH) MOVE TEAM!

Category: Organizational Change and Strategic Management
Top Innovator: Skokie Public Library (IL) Realigning for Greater Access, Learning, and Community
Honorable Mention: Charlotte Mecklenburg Library (NC) WorkSmart for Process Improvement and Innovation

Category: Positioning the Library
Top Innovator: Durham County Library (NC) First Library in Space
Honorable Mention: Springfield City Library (MA) Imagine: A Peace-Full City

Category: Sustainability
Top Innovator: Salt Lake County Library Services (UT) Sustainability Initiative
Honorable Mention: Milwaukee Public Library (WI) Better Building Challenge Showcase Facility

In addition, ULC is honoring two libraries for their leadership in helping their communities respond to crises:

Pioneer Library System (OK) Virtual Response: May 2013 Oklahoma Tornadoes
Calgary Public Library (AB) Come Hell or High Water

Read more about all the Top Innovators at urbanlibraries.org.

A public relations professional, editor and writer, Lisa shares the library story in her blog posts, in the bimonthly Library News, and media interviews. A self-described social media and news nut, Lisa harnesses that passion to raise awareness and understanding of the library's vital role in this community.