2018 Innovative Librarians Award

Imagine this: You’ve sat through hours of LIS education, came up with a game-changing, innovative idea for public libraries, but don’t know what to do with it. Sound familiar? The Innovative Librarians Award will help you use your idea to solve problems for modern public libraries.

We’re looking for ideas that have the ability to improve and reshape public libraries — customer service approaches, operational efficiencies, new service deliveries, programming strategies, staffing models, outreach ideas, collection plans, and more. Anything that can improve the ability of public libraries to serve their communities is welcome.


The Gwinnett County Public Library’s Innovative Librarians Award, which is co-sponsored by the School of Information at San José State University, is open to all students who are currently enrolled and pursuing a graduate degree in Library Science, or who have graduated with an MLS/MLIS within the past two years. All that’s required is an idea to improve the future of public libraries. Simple, right?

Of course not. But that doesn’t mean your idea might not be the one to help the 9,082 public library systems in the United States. Innovative and forward-thinking ideas are needed, and your ideas are critical.

The Innovative Librarians Award recognizes those library science graduate students who put forward new ideas that improve libraries and library services. Whether large or small, these ideas have the ability to change the way people experience libraries. Nominations are judged by public librarians with years of frontline, managerial, and administrative experience.

Five finalists will be selected from all properly submitted applications. Those five finalists will have their proposals published on this website and may be selected to be interviewed via podcast or webconference.

One entrant will be selected from the five finalists to receive a $1,000 cash prize.

2018 Award Winner – Eké Williams

Gwinnett County Public Library and the San José State University School of Information have selected Eké Williams of San José State University from a group of five finalists as the winner of the 2018 Innovative Librarians Award. The award recognizes library science graduate students who put forward new ideas that improve libraries and library services.

Williams, a Technology Training Supervisor at Brooklyn Public Library, will receive a $1,000 cash prize for his work on the Documentary Photography Bootcamp. The bootcamp is an innovative seven-week workshop aimed at educating disconnected youth in the East New York community.

Nominations were blind-judged by public librarians and library and information science educators with years of frontline, managerial and administrative experience.

“We’re thrilled to offer this opportunity to library science students,” says Michael Casey, GCPL Director of Customer Experience. “This year’s innovations were amazing and we’re so happy that we can share them with libraries around the world.”

“The premise of this award was to celebrate our innovative librarians and recognize their ingenious ideas,” says Dr. Sandra Hirsh, professor and director at the SJSU School of Information. “They may be early in their careers, but they are already reshaping public libraries! I couldn’t be more pleased with the response to the call for submissions and the creative thinking happening in our field.”

2018 Finalists

How to Apply

  • Applications will be accepted through 1/31/18 and submissions will be judged  2/14/18 through 2/26/18.
  • Entrants should be actively enrolled in an ALA-Accredited Master’s of Library Science degree program (MLS/MLIS), or be a recent graduate (within two calendar years of graduation).
  • Entrant’s applications will be blind-judged and entrants will be notified of their status by email on Tuesday, 2/27/18.
  • Please use the form below to submit your application. One submission per person, please.
  • Sorry, but employees of Gwinnett County Public Library are not eligible to participate.
  • By submitting for the 2018 Innovative Librarians Award you agree that your idea will be licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0) public license and that your idea submission may be displayed/published on the Innovative Librarians award website.