March 12, 2014


IMLS Press Contact
Giuliana Bullard

Washington, DC—The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) announced today a $250,000 award to the Brooklyn Public Library to partner with the software developer BiblioCommons to create and pilot an online badging system for libraries. The project will result in the technical infrastructure needed for participating libraries to offer digital badge-based programs through which library customers can access, manage, and collect a variety of badges.

A digital badge, like a physical Boy Scout or Girl Scout badge, represents an accomplishment or acquired skill. Digital badges began with games and other online organizations to reward players, recognize achievement, and establish credibility. They are now part of a movement, shaped by Mozilla Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and other organizations, to recognize skill development and training achievements gained through self-directed informal learning and through formal professional development activities.

The Brooklyn Public Library’s project is modeled on the Open Badging system developed by Mozilla and implemented in Chicago’s Summer of Learning program in 2013. BiblioCommons, a software provider that makes online data, circulation, and cataloging tools available to library subscribers, will provide an online badging system platform to be piloted by Brooklyn Public Library and multiple library partners. Partner libraries, including the Seattle Public Library, Omaha Public Library, and Tulsa City-County Library, will experiment with a variety of programming and badge promotion opportunities in their existing Summer Reading Programs. The project aims to test a digital badging system within a library environment, evaluate the technology, and present a model for other libraries.

“It is exciting to be at the forefront of the effort to bring digital badging to public libraries. Digital badging supports a culture of connected learning, and as community centers of learning, it is important for libraries to be a part of these efforts,” said Susan H. Hildreth, director of IMLS. “For libraries involved in this project, the digital badging platform will provide new incentives for teens and adults who participate in summer learning, STEM learning, and a wide variety of lifelong learning opportunities.”

“Brooklyn Public Library’s 60 branches are hubs of independent learning, places where people of all ages come to increase their skills. We are very grateful to the Institute of Museum and Library Services for generously awarding us with this grant funding, which will enable us to add digital badging components to new and existing programs. We look forward to recognizing the many accomplishments of our patrons and volunteers and providing them with ways to validate what they’ve learned at the Library,” said Linda E. Johnson, President & CEO of Brooklyn Public Library.

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. Our mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Our grant making, policy development, and research help 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 and Twitter.