It seems impossible to believe that two years have passed by since I stood up in front of my peers at the seminar which marked the passing from SCL to Libraries Connected.
It has been a whirlwind of a time in which we have come a huge distance and I believe that we have established an organiastion which is cohesive and passionate about working for its members, but ultimately for the improvement of services for our communities.
This has been particularly apparent over these past few weeks of my time as President when the world has turned on its head and we have had to quickly develop alternative services to cope with the challenges we’ve all faced.
When we became Libraries Connected back in 2018, I knew that we had some significant changes to make. We were a different organisation as SCL and we had the immediate challenge of putting in place an infrastructure and staff team that we had never had before.
As an Arts Council Sector Support Organisation, we needed to find our place in the library world and to establish ourselves as a continued support to our membership, but also as an agency which could work in partnership with others, to look forward and to develop our services for the future.
As incoming President, I knew I had big boots to fill but I also knew that I needed to be different. The relationship between a staff team and a Board of Trustees is very different to the Executive that we had previously maintained.
Two years later, I know that we have developed a strong team with a brilliant leader in our Chief Executive, Isobel Hunter. Isobel has the resolve and the strength to get through the sometimes daunting challenges that we have faced together over the past two years.
I’m really proud of what we have collectively achieved, both staff teams and trustees. We have become an important element of the library sector and over the past few weeks, our network has been of huge importance to Heads of Service and Managers across the country as a source of friendship, support and guidance.
The team has worked every hour they have had to produce really excellent work which has made, and will continue to make, a difference to us all.
I’m proud to have been the first President of Libraries Connected. It’s not something I ever thought I would achieve all those years ago as a library assistant back in the Midlands, in my old home town of Kettering.
I’ve loved every part of my career working in the public library service and I’m pleased that there are such passionate people to carry that on in the future. We do need to attract more, and I know that Carol (Stump) will take this forward enthusiastically during her Presidency along with the many other projects and developments which I know will present themselves.
I have the utmost respect for Carol who, like me, has been a lifelong library supporter and worker – I can’t think of a more deserving person to hand over to and I’m glad I’ll be working alongside her and Isobel as Past President over the coming year as we deal with the legacy of Covid 19.