Kansas City, MO – The Urban Libraries Council (ULC) has recognized the Kansas City Public Library as a national innovation leader, citing its Be Smart Safe Gun Storage program.
The ULC awarded the Library a 2018 Top Innovators Award, honorable mention, in the category of health, safety, and sustainability.
KCPL collaborated early in 2018 with Moms Demand Action and the Kansas City Police Department to offer free gun locks to patrons at the Library’s Lucile H. Bluford Branch, 3101 Prospect Ave., and North-East Branch, 6000 Wilson Rd. It also conducted information sessions.
The program was inaugurated after several children were shot in the area around the Bluford Branch in incidents involving improperly stored weapons in private homes. Some of the young victims were Library patrons, alerting staff members to the need for firearms safety education.
“Part of our role as a public library is to be responsive to and reflective of our community through services, programs, and collections. We asked ourselves, ‘What could we do?’” says KCPL’s community reference manager, Kim Gile.
“In 2017, we asked our patrons what their top concerns were. Violence was at the top of the list. We saw both intentional and unintentional shootings, some of which tragically involved our children. The education and gun locks that were disseminated could save a child’s life. That makes it all worth it.”
The Library plans to continue the program.
“The content of these programs is nonpartisan and based entirely around gun safety,” Gile says. “If we, as a community pillar, see an opportunity to help transform our communities for the better, we’re going to take it."
ULC’s Innovations Initiative highlights out-of-the box thinking and new uses of resources to further education for all. This is the first time the Kansas City Public Library has been honored as part of the Initiative.