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Library News & Announcements

Posted on: October 18, 2019

Urban Libraries Council Honors RCPL with Innovation Award

ULC Award

The Urban Libraries Council announced Roanoke County Public Library (RCPL) as one of 10 Top Innovators during the 2019 Innovations Celebration held on October 17 in Salt Lake City. The annual Innovations award program recognizes leading practices from ULC’s member library systems across the U.S. and Canada.

A panel of expert judges selected RCPL from 260 submissions in 10 categories that showcase out-of-the box thinking and creative applications of library resources. RCPL won in the category of Workforce and Economic Development. Award winners were recognized for their level of creativity, ability for other libraries to adapt their work and the outcomes achieved. All 2019 ULC Innovations can be viewed at

“This year’s winners put forth bold ideas that will fundamentally bring about positive change,” said Urban Libraries Council President and CEO Susan Benton. “For this year’s Innovations Initiative, we received our most diverse and exceptional submissions to date. We celebrate RCPL for presenting a groundbreaking initiative that is sure to transform their community and inspire libraries across North America.”

RCPL embraced AI when becoming the nation’s first public library to recruit Pepper®, the humanoid robot. The recruitment was in response to the cultural shift ushered in by the tech revolution and its implications for the region’s economic development. RCPL reimagined all tech programs in the context of digital citizenship, from basics to unique high-level workshops, to help establish the area as a desired destination.

“Our program was designed around our core values and belief that libraries have a responsibility to address AI’s challenges, while supporting economic sustainability by preparing people for the jobs of the future,” says Shari Henry, Director of Library Services for RCPL.

About Urban Libraries Council

The Urban Libraries Council is an innovation and impact tank of North America’s leading public library systems. ULC drives cutting-edge research and strategic partnerships to elevate the power of libraries as essential, transformative institutions for the 21st-century. More than 150 urban member libraries in the U.S. and Canada rely on ULC to identify significant challenges facing today’s communities and provide new tools and techniques to help libraries achieve stronger outcomes in education, digital inclusion, workforce and economic development, and race and social equity.

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