Library Board President John Hill Named 2010 Urban Player
John Hill, president of the DC Public Library Board of Trustees, has been named the Urban Libraries Council's (ULC) Urban Player for 2010. The second trustee to be honored in the award’s history, Hill is being recognized for his work in revitalizing the DC Public Library.
"I am honored to receive this recognition from the ULC and I accept this award on behalf of the DC Public Library," says Hill. "It reflects the dedication of the librarians and staff as well as the city’s commitment to providing outstanding libraries."
The Urban Player Award recognizes individuals who have provided substantive community leadership and created a stronger presence for public libraries. Hill, a seventh year board member, has shown an unwavering support for the library through his advocacy with local elected officials and his keen understanding of the District government. His involvement with the library began in 2004 when he conceived of and led a blue ribbon task force that outlined how to improve District libraries.
Before Hill’s leadership, the library was in critical condition. The facilities were in disrepair, and it often took months to get new books. Drawing from his experience as a partner for Arthur Andersen and as the executive director of the Washington, D.C., Financial Control Board, Hill lobbied the DC City Council to grant the library independent procurement authority. The authority was granted provisionally in 2007 and permanently in 2009. The authority significantly improved library operations.
The library's new procurement model created competition among vendors, resulting in better pricing and service. Now books are delivered within an average of nine days. With new books and DVDs on shelves quickly, circulation has more than doubled since 2006. In addition, there are four times as many public access computers – now more that 600 -- than there were in 2006.
Independent procurement authority has also been used to build state-of-the-art libraries, renovate existing libraries quickly and help local Certified Business Enterprises (CBEs) grow. Libraries have opened in Anacostia, Benning, Parklands-Turner, and Northwest One. In addition to exceeding the District’s CBE participation mandate of 35% on capital projects, the library created the city’s first mentor-protégé program for two construction projects – Washington Highlands and Francis Gregory – to help CBEs develop skills needed to perform as prime contractors.
“I applaud John for his outstanding leadership and passion for the District’s libraries” says Adrian Fenty, mayor of Washington, D.C. "The DC Public Library system is quickly becoming a model system due in part to his work and dedication. This award is well deserved!”
"John has been a champion for the library," said Ginnie Cooper, chief librarian for DC Public Library. "As president, he has brought the system from near collapse to cutting edge.”