December 1, 2016


Press Contacts:
Giuliana Bullard, IMLS

Katherine A. Behrens, ULC

ConnectED Library Card Challenge Open to New Communities for Round Two

Washington, DC – The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the Urban Libraries Council (ULC) are implementing round two of the ConnectED Library Card Challenge. The initiative calls upon library executives, school superintendents and elected officials to work together on aligning programs and resources in their systems so that every school student can receive a library card and have access to the learning resources of America’s public libraries.

The renewed effort seeks to recruit 60 new participating communities. It will build on the successes of the original 60 communities that committed to the challenge by documenting successful partnership models and practices, continuing to provide a space for participating communities to work together, and involving national organizations to expand the impact of the challenge.

With the launch of the second round of the challenge, IMLS and ULC are also releasing Stepping Up to the ConnectED Library Challenge: A Call to Action. This report highlights efforts by the first round of challenge communities and outlines strategies for successful partnerships.

“We are delighted to be continuing this groundbreaking work with the Urban Libraries Council,” said IMLS Director Dr. Kathryn K. Matthew. “All children should have access to the resources they need for success in school and life. The ConnectED Library Challenge is already making a real difference for students in communities across the country by connecting them to the valuable resources of their public libraries.”

“The work of the first 60 communities is just the tip of the iceberg in ensuring equal access to vital learning resources, closing achievement gaps, and providing a more integrated approach to education,” said ULC President and CEO Susan Benton. “We look forward to working with IMLS to broaden the impact by engaging more communities in building powerful partnerships to improve education outcomes.”

Participating communities have experienced success on a variety of fronts. Among the examples in the Call to Action report are the following:

  • Kansas City Public Library in Missouri shifted from signing students up for conventional cards to making school IDs into library cards. The initial change automatically enrolled about 10,000 K-12 students who previously did not have library cards. Now, all public school students in the Kansas City area have full access to public library resources, day or night, using their student IDs.

  • When the mayor of Washington, D.C. prioritized connecting school IDs with library access, more than 70,000 middle- and high-school students received immediate access to the District of Columbia Public Library using their DC One Card student IDs. The effort also aimed to remove all barriers to participation, including fear of fines. Students under the age of 20 do not incur any fines or fees when using their DC One Cards for library access.

  • In Ohio, Columbus Metropolitan Library and Columbus City Schools distributes “Kids Cards,” a library card that does not require a parent’s signature, during school visits to the local public library to encourage immediate use.

  • In Arizona, Pima County Public Library and the Tucson Unified School District’s partnership includes training for more than 200 school staff, ranging from the superintendent and principals to learning support coordinators. The training familiarizes school personnel with a wide range of library learning resources that support student achievement.

The ConnectED Library Challenge, a part of the ConnectED initiative, was developed with IMLS direction and support. President Obama announced the initiative in 2015, along with the IMLS-supported Open eBooks initiative.

For more information about the ConnectED Library Challenge, see the IMLS Website. To learn more about how to join round two of the Library Challenge, email Colleen Bragiel at the Urban Libraries Council.

About IMLS
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is celebrating its 20th Anniversary. IMLS is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. Our mission has been to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. For the past 20 years, our grant making, policy development, and research has helped libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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.