It seems a long time ago now since I became President Elect of Libraries Connected. So much has happened both in the library world and the world at large. Our lives have been turned upside down and we still cannot imagine what life will be like post COVID 19.
One of the things that has kept me going throughout this current crisis has been the fantastic support from Libraries Connected colleagues. Our Chief Executive, Isobel Hunter has steered us through this difficult time admirably, and Mark has calmly led us, as President, to cope with the many changes.
Our staff members and trustees have supported each other throughout, and I know when I take on the role of President it will be so much easier with such a great team working alongside me.
I am looking forward to representing heads of library services across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. We are in unprecedented times, but I have been overwhelmed by the ability of both library leaders and their staff to adapt.
Whether it be moving our services onto a digital platform, ensuring through telephone calls that customers are able to access eBooks and, more importantly, are staying safe and well, or even being deployed into other council services, our staff have used their skills, knowledge and experience to show that they will be an important asset to local authorities in the future.
I will use my role to build on this narrative, ensuring that libraries are seen as part of the solution to recovery. We are uniquely placed, in the heart of our communities, to support a return to whatever the new normal looks like.
We have also learnt that we can quickly grow our service in new ways, and this will be key to taking libraries forward. Our network is crucial to enabling this, working with our partners and key stakeholders to ensure we deliver on shared outcomes.
I would like to see us be ambitious about the library offer going forward, we know there will be increased unemployment, homelessness and poverty. We need to position libraries as a place to rebuild and reconnect.
The need for libraries to help people find new work or start up a new business, or just have space to socialise or have quiet times has never been greater.
I am really proud and honoured to be the next President of Libraries Connected. The last few months has shown the value of the network as a supportive and safe environment to share our concerns for the future but also to celebrate our many successes.
I have worked in libraries all my life and truly believe in the power of libraries. I hope to inspire current staff, but also use my role to encourage others to join the profession. I did not expect to be taking up the post in such unusual circumstances, but the next two years I hope, will provide us with opportunities to create an even better public library service than we have now.