Urban Libraries Council honors KCLS with 2020 Innovation Award

Find Financial Assistance demonstrates transformative approach to revolutionizing public libraries

The Urban Libraries Council named the King County Library System (KCLS) one of 10 Top Innovators today during the virtual 2020 Innovations Celebration. The annual Innovations award program recognizes and raises the visibility of cutting-edge programs, strategies, tools, techniques and ideas from ULC’s member library systems across the U.S. and Canada.

KCLS’ Find Financial Assistance program was selected by a panel of expert judges from 260 submissions in 10 categories that showcase creative thinking and imaginative applications of library resources. KCLS won in the category of Workplace and Economic Development, and is being recognized for ingenuity, outcomes achieved and the ability for other libraries to adapt and implement KCLS’ work.

Find Financial Assistance helps residents recover from financial loss brought on by COVID-19. Sudden changes in economic status—a lost job, a long-term furlough, failing business, reduced work hours—left many unsure about where to go for help or how to navigate the complex and rapidly changing web of relief programs. As experts in connecting people with trusted information, KCLS librarians are well equipped to help people find and learn about the financial resources available to them, from small business loans, to unemployment claims, to assistance with rent, food or tuition. In the program, librarians work directly with residents to provide a customized list of resources and referrals in the patron’s preferred language, either by phone or email.

“KCLS is honored to be recognized by the Urban Libraries Council as a Top Innovator,” stated KCLS Executive Director Lisa Rosenblum. “Find Financial Assistance offers compassionate and customized one-on-one assistance, and connects residents to critical resources and information. This program has been a lifeline for those who have been financially impacted by COVID-19, and it illustrates the importance of libraries during both good times and challenging ones.” 

“This year’s winners have quickly taken bold moves to ensure that the library continues to serve the needs of the people in their community—especially those most vulnerable including children, stressed families, isolated seniors and struggling small businesses,” said Urban Libraries Council President and CEO Susan Benton. “In the 10th year of our Innovations Initiative, we received the most dynamic and cutting-edge submissions to date. We celebrate the King County Library System for creating an initiative that will positively impact their community and serve as a model to public libraries throughout North America.”

All 2020 ULC Innovations entries can be viewed at urbanlibraries.org.