Pima County Public Library earns a spot among the most innovative libraries nationwide

(TUCSON, Ariz.) – Libraries nationwide vie annually to be named a Top Innovator by the Urban Libraries Council. This year, Pima County Public Library (PCPL) is one of the winners in the Race and Social Equity category. PCPL joins an impressive group of peers, from DC Public Library to Los Angeles Public Library.

The Library won for its Library Restorative Practices for Youth program, which was launched as a pilot program in 2017 at Eckstrom-Columbus Library. This is the second time the Library has received the award. In 2013, it won for the nationally-recognized Library Health Nurse program.

This year’s winning program grew out of the realization that the Library was treating high-needs youth as adults, resulting in suspensions that were in direct contrast with Library values— providing a welcoming, safe, and socially equitable space to all who use it, including youth.

In its first year, the program helped reduce suspensions of minors by nearly 75%.

“Restorative practice,” says Library Services Manager, Amy Rusk, “offers a positive way to engage with youth who regularly rely on the Library for vital services like afterschool snacks, homework support, and internet access.”

Teens who are suspended for a Code of Conduct violation can opt into the program and work with trained staff and a diverse community board to learn coping mechanisms and behavioral self-awareness. The program also included making revisions to the Library’s Code of Conduct and aligning it with youth developmental milestones.

Library Director Amber Mathewson says, “This program is key to helping young adults learn accountability and responsibility without using punitive measures. It doesn’t make sense to ban them from the Library when we can guide and help them thrive.”

ULC’s Top Innovators were chosen by a panel of expert judges from more than 200 submissions in numerous categories, including workforce development and adult education.

Susan Benton, ULC President and CEO, congratulated the winners for “continually thinking of and executing bold, new, and purposeful programs that benefit us all. [They] demonstrate a commitment to transformative community leadership.”


About Pima County Public Library

For more than 100 years, we have been here for people just like you. Today, in our libraries, online, or out in the community, our dedicated staff and volunteers are always looking ahead to help you find what you’re looking for. Every day, we’re making our mission a reality by educating and connecting people and inspiring ideas.