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April 27, 2023


Nicholas A. Brown

(301) 699-3500 x6241

National Award for Innovation in Democracy Presented to Prince George’s County Memorial Library System

Largo, Maryland – The Prince George’s County Memorial Library System’s (PGCMLS) innovative approach to promoting the right to read was recognized today with a Top Innovator Award from the Urban Libraries Council (ULC) during its virtual 2023 Innovations Initiative Awards Ceremony. PGCMLS’ “Rock Banned” multidisciplinary campaign to promote the importance of intellectual freedom received top honors this year. 

ULC's 2023 Innovations Initiative “showcases out-of-the box thinking and new alignment of resources to further education for people of all ages, address anti-racism race and digital equity in our communities, building awareness of what the library offers the community and enhance civic engagement for a strong democracy” (Source: Urban Libraries Council). PGCMLS is one of 8 Top Innovators recognized, along with Los Angeles Public Library, Dallas Public Library, Las Vegas-Clark County Library District, Louisville Free Public Library, Cambridge Public Library (Massachusetts), Kansas City Public Library, and Queens Library. PGCMLS is honored to be recognized among this cohort of leading public libraries across the country. 

“It is clear from this year’s selected 2023 Innovations that ULC member libraries are at the forefront of industry creativity, leading far-reaching efforts, and developing original programming,” said ULC President and CEO Brooks Rainwater. “These winners illustrate the exceptional leadership, dedication and perseverance demonstrated by our libraries amidst ongoing change and pressure. We applaud the Prince George’s County Memorial Library System for their visionary program, which will revolutionize their library and community and serve as a template for public libraries across North America.”

The PGCMLS Communication and Outreach Division collaborated with staff throughout the Library to develop a public awareness campaign called "Rock Banned" to inform customers about intellectual freedom and draw attention to the increase in book challenges nationally. The campaign included digital content showcasing staff expertise, an advocacy call to action, content for the Library’s “These Books Made Me” podcast, a PSA featuring Adrianna Hopkins of 7News DC, and a keynote event with Pulitzer-winning writer and Bowie resident Leonard Pitts Jr. The “Rock Banned” campaign has engaged more than 95,000 customers of all ages in informal learning opportunities to deepen their understanding of the role of intellectual freedom in society, and the role of libraries in protecting democracy. 

"PGCMLS is honored to be recognized among this cohort of leading public libraries across the country," said Nicholas A. Brown, Acting Co-CEO. "Libraries and library workers are working tirelessly to protect the right to read, and we accept this important duty as part of our service to the community here in Prince George's County."

This is the second consecutive award cycle in which PGCMLS has received a top innovator award from ULC, and the third consecutive cycle it has been recognized in the award ceremony. Previous recognition from ULC includes Top Innovator - Workforce and Community Development (“Creating a Workforce Ecosystem,” 2021) and Honorable Mention - Race and Social Equity (“Pride at PGCMLS,” 2020).

All 2023 ULC Innovations entries can be viewed at

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About the Prince George’s County Memorial Library System

The Prince George’s County Memorial Library System (PGCMLS) helps customers discover and define opportunities that shape their lives. The Library serves the 967,000+ residents of Prince George’s County, Maryland through 19 branch libraries, a 24/7 online library, and pop-up services throughout the community. PGCMLS is a responsive and trusted community-driven organization. Programs, services, and outreach activities serve book lovers, immigrants and refugees, job seekers, children, young professionals, seniors, and families alike. PGCMLS is the recipient of the 2021 Urban Libraries Council Top Innovator Award for Workforce and Economic Development. Learn more at

About Urban Libraries Council
The Urban Libraries Council is an innovation and impact tank of North America’s leading public library systems. ULC drives cutting-edge research and strategic partnerships to elevate the power of libraries as essential, transformative institutions for the 21st century. Nearly 170 urban member libraries in the U.S. and Canada rely on ULC to identify significant challenges facing today’s communities and provide new tools and techniques to help libraries achieve stronger outcomes in education, digital equity, workforce and economic development, and race and social equity.