There’s a saying about librarians that no-one ever entered the profession for the money or the power. Too true, but I think another equally true statement is that no one ever goes in it expecting an award or an honour. Librarians tend to be a selfless lot, working for the good of others, covering all parts of society, and resigned to be the butt of 'shush' jokes whenever they reveal their profession at social gatherings. Personally, I love that modesty that hangs around our sector.
On the other hand, this quiet approach is one that has its dangers. Those who do not value libraries, or who have not the inestimable advantage of having used one, tend to look down on the sector. We live in a society which, well, honours Honours. Having some impressive letters after your name opens doors and means you’re taken that bit more seriously. A librarian is a librarian but an OBE is an OBE. So, if you believe passionately in libraries – and, if you don’t, I beg you to leave the sector as soon as possible, libraries don’t deserve hangers on – then an honour is something that will help you in your mission.
Speaking personally, also, I think sometimes that everyone feels a bit ground down. I regularly put time aside on an evening, or a weekend, on top of the day job and family to do Public Libraries News and I am sure I'm not alone in doing extra. It’s possible to wonder occasionally about whether what you’re doing is worth the time put in. The fact that at some point a body has decided to give me an award for what I do isn’t why I do it but it sure makes me feel like I’ve not wasted my time in those dark moments. And it goes down well with the long-suffering wife as well.
So, if you know someone who is deserving of an award, please nominate them. It will please them, despite any modest protestations to the contrary, it will help them, and it’s a way of showing your appreciation, even if your identity will – depending on the award - stay confidential. And, also, it will help the standing of the profession. Frankly, it’s a non brainer. Nominate that colleague you admire or appreciate today.
Ian Anstice is the Editor of Public Library News, Strategic Lead for Time to Read North West and Locality Librarian for Cheshire West and Chester.
His honours include:
2018 British Empire Medal, 2016 CILIP Wales Library Champion of the Year, 2015 Honorary Fellowship of CILIP, 2012 and 2014 Winsford Town Council Customer Service of the Year, 2011 Information World Review Information Professional of the Year.
If there is someone you would like Libraries Connected to consider nominating for a National Honour please email Helen Drakard
If you would like to nominate someone for a National Honour, please see our guidance.