Monday, December 4, 2017 - 9:01am

With funding around the United States and Canada constrained, libraries are leveraging the public’s investment by finding innovative approaches to strengthen their communities. The Urban Libraries Council recently recognized 10 libraries as “Top Innovators.” These libraries have proven themselves unfazed by the rough terrain and are providing their communities with essential resources through inventive programs. Madison Public Library’s collaboration with Hip Hop Architecture Camp was recognized as a “Top Innovator” in the Race and Social Equity category.

A panel of expert judges selected Madison Public Library’s collaboration with Hip Hop Architecture Camp from a pool of over 250 submissions as one of 10 library practices that best embodies the 21st century library’s role as a community leader and pioneer for positive change. 

“Now, more than ever, libraries must act as leaders in their community to provide resources that many have taken for granted,” said ULC President and CEO Susan Benton. “During times of economic and social difficulties, these libraries have stepped up to the challenge of inspiring change while helping their communities thrive.”

The award was originally presented to Library Director Greg Mickells at the Urban Libraries Council Annual Forum in St. Paul in October, and will be presented again at the Madison Common Council meeting on December 5 at 6:30 pm.

The library partnered with Michael Ford, UW-Madison, MOD Media and others to host a four-day camp at the Central Library in the spring of 2017, where over 50 young participants built an ideal community that helped inform city planning processes through partnership with Imagine Madison.  The goals of the camp were to increase the number of people of color in architecture and to retell the history of architecture and urban planning as it relates to communities of color.  From this partnership came input into Madison’s urban planning process and outcomes through Imagine Madison, a forthcoming redesign project at the Goodman South Madison Library, and an expansion of the Hip Hop Architecture Camp to cities nationwide.

“This is an innovative example of what Madison Public Library can accomplish when we open our doors to the voice and the expertise of our communities.   The Camp did not originate as the Library’s program, rather, it reflects our partnering with individuals and organizations.  This approach enables us to introduce library services to more people and to learn from them how our library can be a resource for their communities,” said Greg Mickells, Library Director.

“It was great to have the support of Madison Public Library in launching this initiative and tackling issues of diversity and inclusions in S.T.E.A.M. related field in an innovative way. Without the help from the library, members of the City's planning department and Madison residents who volunteered, I'm not sure the camp would have been able to grow to what it is today - a nationally recognized program funded in part by Autodesk,” said Michael Ford. “I hope this award and display of willingness to partner on innovative projects results in more community organizations approaching public libraries to implement their programs.”
The library plans to host a second Hip Hop Architecture Camp with Michael Ford in the summer of 2018.

The full list of 2017 ULC Innovations can be viewed at

About Madison Public Library
Madison Public Library’s tradition of promoting education, literacy and community involvement has enriched the City of Madison for more than 140 years.  Our nine locations throughout the City of Madison welcome over 2.1 million visits each year. For more information, visit, madisonpubliclibrary on Facebook or @madisonlibrary on Twitter.

About Urban Libraries Council
Urban Libraries Council (ULC), founded in 1971, is the voice for public libraries and the force that inspires them to evolve. ULC creates the tools, techniques, and ideas to make ongoing improvements and upgrades in services and technology. ULC also speaks loudly and clearly about the value public libraries bring to communities, and secures funding for research that results in the development of new programs and services. And by serving as a forum for library leadership, ULC produces innovative ideas and best practices that ensure community impact.