ULC Race and Social Equity Statement

In the wake of 2020 events in cities around the country, it’s important to acknowledge the role of public libraries in facilitating racial and social justice in their communities. The Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library will continue to honor our commitment to ensure everyone is welcome, treated with respect, and has the opportunity to live their best lives through learning and literacy at their public library.

It’s also important to note this commitment is endorsed and led by the library’s leadership. In October 2019, the library’s Board of Trustees signed on to the following statement from the Urban Libraries Council (ULC). The Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library, along with many other nationally recognized libraries, is a member of the ULC.


As leaders of North America’s public libraries, we are committed to achieving racial and social equity by contributing to a more just society in which all community members can realize their full potential. Our libraries can help achieve true and sustained equity through an intentional, systemic and transformative library-community partnership. Our library systems are working to achieve equity in the communities we serve by:

  • Eliminating racial and social equity barriers in library programs, services, policies and practices
  • Creating and maintaining an environment of diversity, inclusion and respect both in our library systems and in all aspects of our community role
  • Ensuring that we are reaching and engaging disenfranchised people in the community and helping them express their voice
  • Serving as a convener and facilitator of conversations and partnerships to address community challenges
  • Being forthright on tough issues that are important to our communities

Libraries are trusted, venerable and enduring institutions, central to their communities and an essential participant in the movement for racial and social equity.


Sparking curiosity and connecting our community through literacy and learning.

Core Values

  • Excellence
    We create experiences that anticipate our community’s diverse needs and exceed expectations.
  • Curiosity
    We are hungry to learn, create and innovate. We inspire our community to do the same.
  • Literacy
    We help people make their lives better by providing the tools to successfully navigate the world.
  • Freedom
    We welcome everyone in the community. We support and defend our customers’ right to access information without judgment.
  • Teamwork
    We build stronger communities through mutual trust, collaboration and shared goals.
  • Accountability
    We serve the needs of the entire community by using resources responsibly, fairly and transparently.

Community Impact Goals

The library is helping to transform the lives of its citizens through five community impact goals:

  1. Every child will be ready for kindergarten
  2. Everyone will discover their passion for learning
  3. Everyone will continue learning new ways to live their best life
  4. Topeka and Shawnee County will be an engaged community of readers
  5. The library will be a learning organization committed to excellence in:
    • Leadership
    • Planning
    • Customer Focus
    • Process Management
    • Partner Focus

Learn more about our inclusive process for determining community impact goals.

The Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library is a landmark library, and features the Alice C. Sabatini Gallery, the Millennium Café, Chandler Booktique (bookstore and gift shop), free meeting rooms, computer training and free Wi-Fi access. Learn what’s happening at your library by keeping up with Library News Update delivered to your email inbox.

Located in the heart of Shawnee County, the library has a physical and digital collection of more than 1.16 million books, movies and albums. Library cardholders checked out more than 2.3 million items in 2019. Our bookmobiles make 23 stops six days a week traveling across the county. We provide services to 55 senior living facilities and 85 homebound individuals. Our website and mobile app serve customers’ needs 24/7. The library offers state-of-the art technology, youth programs that encourage learning and reading, accessibility services addressing the needs of older readers and persons with disabilities, and reference and research tools.

The library is a great meeting venue for community groups and is a cultural hub for art, music and literature. People of all ages discover and experience art at the Alice C. Sabatini Gallery. We connect individuals to culture, art and artists – both modern and classic. The gallery is also recognized for two national art competitions and its annual art exhibit for children. Professional exhibits from the library’s permanent collection (the oldest in the city) as well as traveling exhibits draw nearly 20,000 visitors annually.

Library wins Library of the Year awardcover of Library Journal with Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library and staff

Each year, Library Journal looks for role model libraries to vie for the honor of being named the Library Journal / Gale Cengage Learning Library of the Year. More than 9,595 public libraries in the U.S. and Canada are eligible to apply for the $10,000 prize celebrating the library that most profoundly demonstrates creativity, innovation, leadership and outstanding service to its community.

As the 2016 Library of the Year, the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library was the Library Journal cover story on June 15, 2016 and was honored with a gala reception by the American Library Association June 26, 2016 in Orlando, Florida. Past winners have gained immeasurable prestige within North America and their home communities, and considerable national media coverage. It is an honor that resonates for a lifetime.