On June 18, 2012, the Chicago-based Urban Libraries Council (ULC) released a research report that called for “sustained investment in civic engagement to build stronger communities and makes the case for public libraries as ideal civic engagement leaders.” Entitled Stepping Up to the Civic Engagement Challenge, it highlighted “research that points to the social and economic benefits that come from engaged and empowered citizens and documents the successful community- building efforts already being carried out by libraries across North America.” In November of 2011, over eighty library leaders, city officials, and community and corporate partners met in Miami for the Urban Libraries Council Partners for Success Conference.
“Public libraries are trusted, stable, apolitical, safe, and positive,” said ULC President and CEO Susan Benton. “At a time when trust in government remains low and many citizens feel disconnected from public institutions, libraries offer a bright light for building stronger communities and producing long-term results.”
She added, “This report is designed to raise awareness about the benefits of engaging and empowering citizens and to position the library as a reliable and trusted resource to lead, manage, and ensure sustained attention to civic engagement.” A few months later, the ULC setup a new Web site.
On June 22, 2012, the ULC announced its 2012 Top Innovators during the ULC Annual Forum, June 21-22, in Newport Beach, California. The ten winners were selected by a panel of expert judges from nearly 200 applications in the third annual ULC Innovations Initiative.
At the ULC’s Annual Membership meeting on June 22, 2012, the ULC honored Cindy Lombardo, Deputy Director and Chief Operations Officer of the Cleveland Public Library, with the 2012 Joey Rodger Leadership Award. The Joey Rodger Leadership Award, in the amount of $5,000, provides a director or senior manager of a ULC member library with an opportunity to strengthen his or her skills through a structured professional development undertaking.
The award may be used to attend an established leadership development program or pursue an individualized program that involves working with a leadership development expert/mentor. Ms. Lombardo planned to use the leadership award to attend the Brookings Institution’s Leadership Lab, an intensive, five-day residential immersion educational experience that focuses on the core executive topics of team building, problem-solving, partnering, political savvy, and public service motivation.
Ms. Lombardo said, . “I look forward to bringing back best practices and strategies from the Brookings Institution to share with the Library's leadership team, Board of Trustees and staff as we move forward together to create the urban public library for the future." The Joey Rodger Leadership Award was established in 2004 to honor ULC’s first full-time chief executive officer and president, Eleanor Jo “Joey” Rodger.
The ULC also honored longtime commissioner and champion of the Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL), Lucy McCoy with the 2012 Urban Player Award. Each year, the Urban Player Award is presented to an individual who stands out as a strong and effective advocate for the public library. And this year, Ms. McCoy’s commitment to LAPL, first as a commissioner and later as a citizen advocate, was recognized.
“I am deeply honored to receive this award and I accept it on behalf of my many colleagues who have promoted and defended our libraries,” said McCoy. “We are passionate about libraries and recognize them as critical to the life and vitality of the rich fabric of communities that we call Los Angeles.”
McCoy’s advocacy for the Los Angeles Public Library, which serves the nation’s largest population, spans more than 15 years and culminated in 2011 with the passage of ballot Measure L, which reverses the worst cuts in the Los Angeles Public Library’s 140-year history and restores critical hours and services.
In 1995, she was appointed to the Board of Library Commissioners on which she served for a decade, including seven years leading the board as president. In 1998, she successfully led a campaign to pass a $178,000,000 bond to replace and expand outdated branches. This launched the largest library building project in the U.S., resulting in sixty-four rebuilt branches and nine new branches, all delivered on time and under budget.
In 2010-2011, Ms. McCoy served as pro bono chair of a citywide campaign that resulted in the passage of Measure L, which substantially increased the LAPL’s share of existing city funds and restored staff and six-day-a week service at all seventy-three libraries and seven-day-a-week service at nine libraries.
In 2013, I plan to reduce the frequency of my article postings to once or twice a week.