This Week at ULC
Newsletter | November 10, 2021
Earlier this month, ULC Executive Board Chair Dr. Mary J. Wardell-Ghirarduzzi shared that ULC President and CEO Susan Benton will be stepping down from her position at the end of February. Across her twelve-year tenure, Susan has championed and positioned libraries as essential to the communities they serve. She has worked with passion and in close partnership with the ULC Executive Board, ULC libraries and ULC staff on a vision for public libraries as anti-racism leaders, including the launch of ULC’s Statement on Race and Social Equity in 2016. 

ULC has become widely recognized as an innovation and action tank that provides new thinking, techniques and technologies for public libraries to use for achieving greater outcomes for the people and communities they serve. ULC membership now represents over 80% of all large libraries across the U.S. and Canada. ULC has grown its internal and external communications, led forward-thinking research and development for the field and experienced a significant increase in reserves during Susan’s tenure.

Accomplishments include:

  • Development of Edge, the first benchmarking system for public libraries that is used by leading public libraries in the U.S. and Canada. In early 2022, ULC will launch Edge 360 with new anti-racism/EDI and digital equity benchmarks and additional topics premiering later in the year related to economic opportunity and education.

  • Launching the White House Leaders Library Card Challenge, which brought local elected and top appointed officials, school superintendents and library executives together for the first time to get a library card to every student in their jurisdiction to support their educational success. More than 4 million students now have library cards through this initiative and new communities adopt this proven model every year.

  • Moving the ULC offices to Washington, D.C. in 2014 to develop strategic partnerships with allied organizations, including the Council of the Great City Schools, National Summer Learning Association, National League of Cities, National Association of Counties, International City/County Management Association, the United States Conference of Mayors and others.

“Susan used her role to elevate the power of libraries as essential, transformative institutions for the 21st century. As chair of the ULC Executive Board, and as a university leader and educator, I know the world is a better place because of Susan’s sturdy and steady hand at the helm of ULC, at such a time as this. Susan Benton is a class act, and a woman I call friend,” said ULC Executive Board Chair Dr. Mary J. Wardell-Ghirarduzzi.

We extend a heartfelt thanks and appreciation to Susan Benton for her outstanding service to ULC in serving the greater good in our communities.

The ULC Executive Board will begin the search for a new President and CEO immediately.
Susan Benton 2021
“I am honored and humbled to have had the opportunity to work with our ULC members, the dedicated ULC board and the most incredible, hard-working ULC staff for the past 12 years. I am confident in ULC’s Executive Board and staff to carry on the vital mission of ULC, with their extensive expertise and deep commitment to ensuring the essential role of public libraries in North American communities. ULC will continue to empower library leaders to achieve stronger outcomes in education, workforce and economic mobility, digital equity, and anti-racism and equity, diversity and inclusion for years to come.”
This Global Entrepreneurship Week, we recognize the work of public libraries and their vital role in building access to entrepreneurship. Libraries are critical drivers for local economic recovery, resilience and equity.

Check out one of ULC’s latest resources, the Closing the Entrepreneurship Gap: Tools for Libraries, to discover more strategies and resources to help libraries level-up as entrepreneurial hubs, including COVID-19 responses.
Melinda Cervantes
Former Executive Director, Contra Costa County Library
Timothy Cherubini
Former Executive Director, Chief Officers of State Library Agencies
Joey Crawford
ULC Executive Board Member
ULC is honored to have the support of three esteemed guest judges in selecting the winners of our 2021 Innovations Initiative. ULC is consulting with these judges to determine the 2021 Top Innovator and Honorable Mention award winners, who will be announced during the upcoming Innovations Celebration later this year.
All 2021 ULC Innovations Entries are Now Live!

Thank you to our ULC members for your submissions to our 2021 Innovations Initiative. The submission site is officially closed! Based on the tremendous Innovations received, we know that you have been tirelessly serving your communities and raising the bar for 21st-century librarianship. All 2021 entries are now viewable online at our website

Once the submissions are reviewed by the judges, ULC will contact library directors to inform them that their library has been selected as either a Top Innovator or Honorable Mention. Only libraries that have been selected as a winner will be contacted. 

Please note that if your library is selected as a 2021 Top Innovator, we will ask you to submit a short video featuring a staff member and/or patron explaining the impact of the Innovation on your library community. This short video will be showcased during the 2021 Innovations Celebration.

Please reach out to ULC Director of Community Engagement Colleen Morsli at if you have questions about the selection process.
We give a special thanks to Ingram Content Group for supporting the 2021 ULC Innovations Celebration and providing ULC members with new and useful tools for the field. 
The application period is now open for Building Equity: Amplify Summer Learning, a new ULC initiative to support engaging learning opportunities for middle school youth in the summertime who have historically been excluded from STEM opportunities (e.g., based on race, income, gender, ability). All applications are due this week by Friday, November 12 at 11:59 p.m. ET. Please note that cohort members will receive a small stipend to help offset material costs.

Funded in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and with the support of our partners, the National Summer Learning Association and the National Recreation and Park Association, ULC and its strategic partners will work with a learning cohort of up to 20-25 public libraries to design and implement quality STEM summer programming. All ULC members are encouraged to apply!

Questions? Review our Cohort FAQ’s, and don't hesitate to reach out to ULC's Director of Strategic Initiatives Tandra Turner at for help with your application.
Honored with NSLA Excellence Award
Memphis Public Libraries

Congratulations to Memphis Public Libraries for earning the coveted New York Life Foundation’s Excellence in Summer Learning Award for their summer program, Explore Memphis. The library was presented with their award at this week's National Summer Learning Association conference. The library’s winning program, Explore Memphis, addresses the “summer slide” and works to provide education attainment opportunities to low-income, at-risk youth through educational and creativity-driven programs.
Hamilton Goes Fine Free
Hamilton East Public Library

Indiana's Hamilton East Public Library is one of the latest ULC member library systems to join the Fine Free movement by eliminating fines for everyone. “We hope that eliminating fines for overdue items will remove another barrier to access and allow everyone in our service area to have full use of HEPL resources, especially those needed by school-age children to read, discover and be curious,” said Library Director Edra Waterman.
Honored with Outstanding Librarian Award by NCAC
Houston Public Library

Tune in tonight at 7 p.m. ET as the National Coalition Against Censorship honors HPL Executive Director Dr. Rhea Brown Lawson with a Judith Krug Outstanding Librarian Award for her fierce advocacy for public libraries. The virtual NCAC Let Me Speak Annual Benefit will celebrate free speech and creative expression, and is free and open to all. 
ULC Communications and Marketing Leaders
Member Group Call
November 17 | Noon-1 p.m. ET
Cliff View Self Service Hours
Spokane Public Library

Job Description: Director, Content Strategy
Richmond Hill Public Library

Digital Action and Inclusion Strategic Plan
Pima County Public Library

WebJunction, OCLC | November 18 at 3 p.m. ET

On Thursday, November 18, ULC members are invited to register for Understanding Eviction and How Libraries Can Help, a webinar hosted by WebJunction and OCLC. Discover ways to understand the current state of the eviction crisis, recognize the basic stages of the process and discuss options for preventing evictions through rental assistance. Learn how your library can sort through the maze and connect people to eviction-related information and services. 
Institute of Museum and Library Services

"Libraries and museums, their patrons and communities have always known they have a powerful impact for the good on their communities" ~ IMLS Director Crosby Kemper

Read a new report from IMLS on social wellbeing impacts.
ULC will be closed on Thursday, November 11 in observance of Veteran’s Day (U.S.) and Remembrance Day (Canada).

Please contact ULC's Interim Director of Communications Paul Negron at