Libraries Connected is delighted to announce the winners of its first ever awards to recognise and celebrate the achievements of library staff over the past year.
Library workers across the country have gone beyond expectations during the pandemic to provide essential services and continue to develop their offer to engage with their communities. Libraries Connected has been inspired by the creativity and determination of library staff throughout the past 18 months.
Libraries Connected received over 100 nominations from library services around the country in six categories linked to their Universal Library Offers: Health and Wellbeing, Reading, Culture and Creativity, Information and Digital, Children's Promise and Vision and Print Impaired People's Promise.
The awards were judged by those leading these areas of work nationally, Libraries Connected trustees and national figures, including bestselling author Lesley Pearce, poet Joseph Coelho and Geraldine Collinge from the Royal Shakespeare Company. This year’s awards were generously sponsored by OverDrive, the leading digital reading platform for libraries and schools worldwide, and creator of the Libby reading app.
So many incredible libraries entered that the judges were overwhelmed by the quality and diversity of the work they considered. The winners are:
- Health & Wellbeing Award: The Death Positive Library Project Team, Vision Redbridge, Kirklees and Newcastle
For their work promoting the role of libraries as powerful and compassionate spaces to support conversations around death, dying and bereavement.
- Reading Award: Laura Smith, Library Apprentice, City of London Libraries
For her work developing the ‘What Next? Book Recommendation Quiz’ that enables users to get recommendations for eBooks which resulted in a significant increase in eBook loans.
- Culture and Creativity Award: Sam Whitehouse, Customer Service Assistant, Wakefield Libraries
For his work on the ‘Cinema in the Library,’ a Libraries Connected Yorkshire and Humber funded project that provides free cultural experiences to local people.
- Information & Digital Award: Basia Godel, Library Assistant, North Yorkshire Libraries
For her work on community cohesion and racial justice during Black History Month by curating an event on the contribution of black people to North Yorkshire and diversifying the library stock.
- Children’s Promise Award: Shaun Doyle, Library Assistant, North Yorkshire Libraries
For his work in establishing the Young Adult Library Team made up of younger members of library staff who help the service to reach out more effectively to young people and young LGBTQ people.
- Vision and Print Impaired People's Promise Award: Helen Cunningham, Access and Inclusion Librarian, Derbyshire Libraries
For her work in transforming Buxton Library Listening Group for people with sight loss to an online listening group accessible to people anywhere in the county.
Carol Stump, President, Libraries Connected:
‘Library staff and volunteers have proven over and over again during the pandemic that their skills and knowledge are vital to individuals and communities. I am so proud of these award winners and all that they have achieved for their services. However, their work is just a snapshot of all the fantastic work that libraries around the country have delivered over the past 18 months.’
Nick Forster, Regional Manager, OverDrive:
‘At OverDrive we’re delighted to have the opportunity to support these awards. Our congratulations go to the winners – and our thanks go to all the staff in libraries around the country who have done so much to keep their services delivering through the pandemic.’
Sue Williamson, Director Libraries, Arts Council England:
‘I was delighted to be asked to take part in the judging of these awards celebrating the great work of library staff in all the areas of the Universal Library Offers of Reading, Creativity and Culture, Information and Digital and Health and Wellbeing. The breadth and depth of the ambition and quality of all the shortlisted entries was outstanding. I feel that the future of library services is going to be a bright one with so much talent shining through.’
The winners received their awards at a special Libraries Connected dinner last night at their annual seminar for heads of library services.