ULC Member News

Newsletter | September 27, 2023


Public libraries are the cultural touchstones and civic anchors of our communities. The importance of libraries serving as third places has markedly grown as remote work increases and loneliness impacts people more and more. The concept of "place," however goes beyond purely physical spaces; it encompasses the potential for innovation and the pursuit of social justice in communities.  

Panel Discussion: Libraries as Place 

Thursday, October 26 | 9:30 to 10:15 a.m.

This panel will explore how thoughtful, equity-focused placemaking and influence, coupled with community-driven initiatives, can converge to create inclusive and innovative environments that benefit all residents. Join ULC members in exploring how "place" can serve as a powerful catalyst for positive change and progress.  


  • Brooks Rainwater, ULC President & CEO 


  • Nick Higgins, Chief Librarian, Brooklyn Public Library 
  • Vailey Oehlke, Director of Libraries, Multnomah County Library 
  • Skye Patrick, Library Director, LA County Library 
  • Story Bellows, Partner, Cityfi 


The 2023 ULC Annual Forum: People, Power, Place — Today's Urban Public Library — is generously sponsored by EBSCO. We thank EBSCO for their sponsorship of this event and ongoing support of ULC's work and membership.


ULC Supports Congressional Resolution Condemning Book Bans 

ULC joined members of Congress and national leaders at a press conference on Capitol Hill on Wednesday. The event addressed the growing crisis of book banning and introduced a congressional resolution condemning book bans ahead of Banned Books Week (October 1 – October 7). Elected officials and advocates spoke about the importance of free expression and the rise of attacks on First Amendment Freedom. 

“Books can delight us, educate us and, yes, challenge us,” said Brooks Rainwater, President and CEO of the Urban Libraries Council. “But banning books that challenge us amounts to censorship. The rise in attempts to pull books from library shelves is more than concerning—it is an assault on Americans’ constitutional rights to free speech and is harmful to democracy.” 

The resolution, introduced by Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) and Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) comes amid a disturbing rise in book bans. In the 2022–23 school year, free speech watchdog PEN America recorded 3,362 instances of books banned, an increase of 33 percent from the 2021–22 school year. The resolution acknowledges the central role books play in democratic and civil discourse and urges Congress to denounce the illegitimate processes being used to ban books in K-12 classrooms, universities, prisons, and libraries. 

You can watch a stream of the event on ULC’s Facebook page.



Banned Books Week 2023 & Digital Inclusion Week 2023

The first week of October marks both Banned Books Week and Digital Inclusion Week — two significant activations for public libraries across North America!

Banned Books Week: Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and spotlights current and historical attempts to censor books in libraries and schools. It brings together the entire book community — librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types — in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.

Digital Inclusion Week: Digital Inclusion Week is an annual week of awareness, recognition, and celebration. With support from NDIA, organizations and individuals across the country host special events, run social media campaigns, and share their digital inclusion actions and progress with media, among other actions. 

ULC would love to highlight and amplify your library's activations. To share with ULC, tag us on social media or share some clips by emailing media@urbanlibraries.org.


ULC Libraries Celebrate Library Card Sign-Up Month

Library Card Sign-Up Month is wrapping up! Here are a few more examples of our members' activations:

Anchorage Public Library: Anchorage encouraged library card sign-ups with special, limited edition promotions — like a "Baby Yoda" library card, APL duct tape and a special flavor of Zip Kombucha.

Live Oak Public Libraries: Live Oak promoted library card sign-ups by highlighting the library's partnership with the Coastal Heritage Society!

The Book Sanctuary Movement Comes to Harris County

Harris County Public Library

"[Books] are crucial not only as mirrors that reflect our own experiences but also as windows into the experiences of others," said Harris County Public Library director Edward Melton. "The library must be able to provide those opportunities for all people." 

This week, the Harris County Commissioners Court passed a resolution aimed at protecting Texans’ freedom to read as they choose, designating the Harris County Public Library (HCPL) as a book sanctuary. READ MORE.

Introducing the "Off the Page" Literary Celebration

Sarasota County Libraries

“Writing and literature is a form of art that deserves to be celebrated as part of Sarasota’s world-class art scene,” said Renee Di Pilato, director of Sarasota County Libraries and Historical Resources. Sarasota County Libraries is gearing up for its debut two-week literary festival called "Off the Page," which will include author talks, book signings, writing workshops, poetry and songwriting seminars, local history discussions and more. READ MORE.

Celebrating 50 Years of Empowering the Visually Impaired

Palm Beach County Library System

For half a century, the Palm Beach County Library System's Talking Books program has been a beacon of accessibility and inclusivity for those who are blind, visually impaired, deaf-blind, physically impaired and/or veterans, offering them the gift of literature and knowledge through audio and Braille materials. This week, the library system celebrates 50 years of the program. READ MORE.


ULC President & CEO Brooks Rainwater Visits Toronto

Last week, our President and CEO Brooks Rainwater had the opportunity to visit the Toronto Public Library to connect with TPL City Librarian Vickery Bowles, meet with the leadership team and visit a number of the library's many locations. Brooks also joined a conversation with City Librarian Bowles and Toronto Metropolitan University's Centre for Free Expression Director James Turk. Thank you, TPL, for being such gracious hosts!



The editors of Library Journal need your help in identifying emerging talents in the library world—both great leaders and behind-the-scenes contributors who are providing inspiration and model programs for others. The 21st annual round of Movers & Shakers will profile up-and-coming individuals from around the world who are innovative, creative, and making a difference fighting against censorship, and helping improve their workplace. From librarians and non-degreed library workers to publishers, vendors, coders, entrepreneurs, reviewers, and others who impact the library field—Movers & Shakers 2024 will celebrate those people who are moving all types of libraries ahead!

Please use the form below to submit nominations. Submissions will close on October 23, 2023.



St. Joe County Public Library

St. Joe County Public Library is promoting the Eerie Imaginings Writing Contest for grades 3-12!

Read the Tweet

Arlington Public Library

Next week, Arlington Public Library will officially be declared a Book Sanctuary!

View the IG Post

Glendale Library, Arts & Culture

Glendale Library, Arts & Culture is encouraging patrons to visit the makerspace to explore their creativity!

View the IG Post

Oakland Public Library

Oakland Public Library's Science in September programming guided kids to engineer a hand out of paper, sting, beads and straw!

Read the Tweet

Questions? Want to Submit a Story?

Contact ULC's Communications Manager Elise Calanni at ecalanni@urbanlibraries.org.

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