ALA Honors International Innovators

Four groups receive ALA Presidential Citations

October 6, 2015

The presentation of ALA Presidential Citations for Innovative International Library Projects at the International Relations Round Table (IRRT) International Librarians' Reception on June 29, 2015, in San Francisco. Photo: IRRT
The presentation of ALA Presidential Citations for Innovative International Library Projects at the International Relations Round Table (IRRT) International Librarians' Reception on June 29, 2015, in San Francisco. Photo: IRRT

The ALA Presidential Citation for Innovative International Library Projects began as an initiative of Loriene Roy, 2007–2008 ALA president. Since its inception, 34 groups have been recognized.

Earlier this year, ALA President Courtney L. Young, with support from the International Relations Round Table Advisory Award Committee, honored four libraries with this special citation at the 2015 ALA Annual Conference and Exhibition in San Francisco. They were recognized for designing and implementing a highly visible innovative library service that was unique or original and greatly improved existing library services for users. These projects draw attention to the potential of library services to create positive change, demonstrate sustainability, and provide models for other libraries.

The Outreach Worker Service and Digital Literacy as a Core Service (Canada)

The Edmonton (Alberta) Public Library’s (EPL) Outreach Worker Service was initiated in 2011 as a three-year pilot project, funded through the Safe Communities Innovation initiative of Alberta Justice. It placed 1.5 full-time-equivalent social workers in EPL’s central branch, the Stanley A. Milner Library.

The grant enabled EPL to establish the service as an ongoing effort, reallocating internal funds to support the establishment of these positions. The library has also expanded the service to five more branch locations in neighborhoods with a high percentage of vulnerable populations.

The Outreach Worker Service is an example of how EPL uses innovation to transform community. It has three objectives:

  • to connect with at-risk individuals visiting EPL branches, build relationships, and provide referrals to service agencies to support identified needs, including housing, employment, education, income, and health care
  • to support staff understanding and capacity in working with socially vulnerable individuals, and to collaborate with staff to engage them in building relationships and delivering library services to Outreach Service clients
  • to decrease social disorder and create a balance of inclusivity and safety, within and around EPL branches

Overall, the program improves existing library services for the most marginalized members of the community.

EPL’s 2011–2013 business plan detailed bold objectives to establish digital literacy as a core service. The 2014–2016 plan builds on established successes. Like staff at many libraries, EPL staff regularly fielded customer requests for all manners of digital literacy, technology, and device help. There was uncertainty about how to prioritize these requests and inconsistent staff skills and confidence to address them. EPL defined and developed innovative digital literacy services to meet these community needs.

Key objectives met were:

  • positioning digital literacy services as a core library service with staff and customers
  • ensuring staff members were skilled and enthusiastic in helping customers with technology
  • establishing EPL as the community’s digital workspace

EPL’s first response in 2011 was to form a digital literacy initiatives unit comprising a manager and three librarians, using existing but redirected positions. Their mandate was to provide staff with training and support to build their digital literacy skills; provide them with a digital technology sandbox for training and programs; and develop and support the creation of digital literacy services and programs.

With investment in training and equipment and with increased staff confidence and support, EPL staff members now champion digital literacy services and spearhead new digital literacy program development.

The Taiwan Resource Center for Chinese Studies and the Global Promotion of Chinese Studies (Taiwan)

For years, Taiwan’s National Central Library (NCL) has exchanged publications with more than 600 academic institutions in more than 80 countries in an effort to promote quality publications from Taiwan. In recent years, a new trend in Chinese studies has taken shape internationally.

To promote Taiwanese-style Chinese culture, NCL used its global publication exchange network in 2012 to build a four-year project promoting Chinese studies internationally. This entailed establishing Taiwan Resource Center for Chinese Studies (TRCCS) service points in major research institutions and university libraries globally, transforming traditional service models, and increasing the scope of people being served.

Each year NCL evaluates academic institutions with a high density of sinologists and inadequate resources for Chinese and Taiwan studies and helps them establish a designated space within their library for a TRCCS. The centers display books, audiovisual materials, digital databases, and online resources that are published in Taiwan. NCL also cohosts lectures and exhibitions, serving as an overseas service center for NCL.

From 2012 to 2014, such resource centers have been set up in 12 countries, including the US, the Czech Republic, Germany, Japan, Latvia, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Russia, the UK, and Vietnam. See TRCCS for details.

National Library Board Mobile application (Singapore)

On September 18, 2014, the National Library Board (NLB) of Singapore launched NLB Mobile, an app that lets patrons borrow library items across the entire network of public libraries using their smartphones. The app uses the smartphone’s camera to scan NLB barcodes and check due dates or the availability of titles. NLB Mobile also recommends books and events based on patrons’ past loans and physical location. Parents can also store their children’s library accounts on the app and securely borrow books for the whole family.

NLB patrons can also perform self-checkout of library items using their mobile device anywhere in the library, bypassing the queue at the borrowing stations. Smart RFID gates detect that materials have been checked out via the NLB Mobile app when patrons leave the library.

An additional benefit is the elimination of gate alarm incidents where items were checked out but not successfully disarmed because of aging or damaged RFID tags.

NLB Mobile leverages established technologies and standard smartphone features, demonstrating that innovations do not always need cutting-edge technologies but they do need a successful design and support infrastructure that focus on service delivery. With the use of mature technologies, the solution is cost effective, sustainable, and easily adapted by other libraries in the world.

The Science and Technology Academic and Research-Based Openly Operated Kiosk Station (STARBOOKS) and Project Science and Technology Information Institute (Philippines)

The Science and Technology Information Institute (STII) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) in Taguig City promotes science and technology information in the Philippines by maintaining a physical library and producing multimedia promotions.

The STII Library contains 150,000 materials in various formats—books, journals, serial publications, reference materials, annual reports, theses and dissertations, technical and project reports, and directories, as well as video and audio collections acquired from local and international sources. Some materials have already been digitized as part of the Philippine eLib Project, and all materials in the STII Library will be digitized.

After several consultative and creative meetings, STARBOOKS—Science and Technology Academic and ​Research-Based Openly Operated Kiosk Stations—was born. STARBOOKS are information access portals in key areas of the Philippines that contain hundreds of thousands of digitized science and technology resources in various formats, placed in specially designed pods set in a user-friendly interface.

The objective was to maximize the use of science and technology materials maintained at the STII Library by making them available to the general public, particularly in remote areas that have no information materials, let alone a library. STARBOOKS works especially well in areas where the internet is not available or has weak service.

Through the STARBOOKS program, Filipinos have access to scientific information for their research needs or simply to answer casual questions. The goal is that STARBOOKS will create interest in the fields of science and technology, which may increase the number of Filipinos enrolling in science and technology courses; encourage the development of new ideas, inventions, and innovations; and inspire entrepreneurship and research for socioeconomic development.

From 2011 to 2014, DOST-STII installed 305 STARBOOKS sites throughout the Philippines. The southern Mindanao region has the most sites with 118, followed by Luzon with 111, and Visayas with 76. Unfortunately, most of the STARBOOKS sites in these areas were destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, and efforts are underway to rebuild them.

Nominate a project

Interested in nominating a project for 2016? Submit a nomination. The deadline is January 1, 2016.