Upstart Innovation Award

About the Upstart Innovation Award The Upstart Innovation Award, sponsored by Upstart, a Demco company, (formerly the Highsmith Library Innovation Award) recognizes a public library's innovative and creative service program to the community. Any innovative, cutting-edge program, activity or service will be considered. Has your library developed a dynamic solution to a problem? Have you been able to reach a special population through a unique program? Has your special marketing campaign brought dramatic, measurable results? If so, you're eligible to apply.

previously the Highsmith Library Innovation Award

Administered by:

Public Library Association logo

Award and Frequency

The winner of this award will receive a check in the amount of $2,000 and a plaque.

This award is given out on an annual basis.


Public libraries of any size are eligible for this award, with one exception: Public libraries having employees on the current Upstart Innovation Award Jury are ineligible to receive the Upstart Innovation Award. You must agree to allow PLA to publicize your program if it is selected as the winner.

Application Instructions

To submit an application for this award, please visit the PLA Awards Online Application.

PLA will forward the applications to the current chair of the Upstart Innovation Award Jury. PLA reserves the right to extend the application deadline.

Contact Information

Displaying active committee roster as of 10/15/2021. Last retrieved on 10/15/2021. Members can log in to view full contact information for committee members.

Selection Criteria

Candidates must submit the attached application form, describing the public library's innovative achievement in creative programs for the library community, intended to increase the use of or improve awareness of public libraries.

Programs should be unique and cutting-edge and must have had measurable impact on the library's clientele. Proposals will be judged on the following:

  • Collaborative efforts of the staff and community in the planning and implementation process.
  • Measurements of success in the community based on usage, program attendance, or greater community awareness.
  • Sustainability of the program over time.
  • Program can be replicated by other public libraries.
  • Quality and appropriateness of submitted materials (supporting documents may be included).