Culture & Creativity Award 2023: Shortlist

Lena Smith FRSA, Pen to Print - Library Project Manager, London Borough of Barking and Dagenham

Lena is nominated for the impact she has had through her leadership of the 'Pen to Print' programme.

Pen to Print’s mission is to provide a safe, collaborative environment attracting and supporting a network of diverse writers with the commitment to local voices. Aspiring writers are encouraged to develop their authentic voices and to reach communities with their stories and inspiring others.

A huge part of its success has been the funding Lena has secured. Under her leadership, Pen to Print became an Arts Council, England National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) in 2018. She ensures its governance is secure, led by Barking and Dagenham Libraries with an Advisory Panel including local people, founder members and industry experts.


Emma Tweed, Engagement Officer, Barnsley Library Service

Emma is nominated for her work in ensuring Barnsley Libraries are involved in increasing awareness of environmental issues in their communities.

Emma has shown her skills in linking culture and creativity with learning, for example by including a bee themed adult poetry workshop in her programme, alongside crafts using sustainable materials including wildflower bombs, and even a Virtual Reality bee activity. She has embraced partnership working, delivering sessions with a local Beekeepers Association, partnering with the Museums Service, and with local poet Ian McMillan.

Emma has also been successful in putting a bid in to Arts Council England, securing grant funding to deliver a creative music themed programme called Biblio Beats in 2023. 

Dionne Hood, Development Officer for Reading & Stock, Bradford Libraries

Dionne is nominated for her work in bringing inspiring, diverse and inclusive creative and cultural engagement to Keighley Library and the local population it serves. 

Dionne developed the 'Create Connect Make' project in partnership with visual artist Jean McEwan, and secured funding from the Leap, a Creative People and Places Programme.  Working together with local people in Keighley to grow, test and support new ideas for community-led creativity and culture taking place in the library, Create Connect Make has been an important part of the Keighley Library pilot for the Bradford Libraries’ new delivery model.

Dionne has worked with diverse community groups, some of whom had previously said they did not think the library was for them.


Tracey Williams, Library Specialist (Heritage & Local Studies), Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council

Tracey is nominated for her work with the Young Archaeologist’s Club (YAC).
Tracey set up the YAC in November 2021 as a result of ongoing contact since 2019 by archaeologists working on the HS2 site in Coleshill. By setting up and running the YAC despite, by her own admission, having no background in archaeology whatsoever, Tracey has brought local history and heritage to a younger generation in an innovative way and is inspiring children to perhaps seek careers in her field, or in archaeology. The YAC is always fully subscribed and always has a waiting list.


Boundless Curiosity Exhibition Team (Adam Bayfield, Jodie Hearn, Chris Jordan, Abi Paine, Tracey Woosley), Guernsey

Adam, Jodie, Chris, Abi and Tracey are nominated for creating the Boundless Curiosity exhibition at Guernsey’s Guille-Allès Library.

Boundless Curiosity is an exhibition to celebrate the Library’s 140th anniversary, bringing to life the interesting story behind our origins and showcasing some of the treasures in our collection, including Audubon’s Birds of America. The team worked tirelessly throughout the year to put it together, often giving up evenings and weekends to tackle the workload.

The result was an exhibition that could fairly be described as world class, as the response from the community bears out. More than 5,000 people visited in the first half of the run. Feedback has been sensational, with three quarters of people surveyed awarding a score of 10/10, and an overall Net Promoter Score of 84. Many people commented that it was the first time they had set foot inside the Library in years, even decades, and there has been an uptick in new members as a result.


Engaging Libraries Project Team (Leigh M'Rabty, Alison Gill, Paula Carley, Siobhan O'Connor, Angela Rawcliffe, Philip Cooke), Manchester Libraries

The Manchester Libraries Engaging Libraries project team is nominated for a successful project which celebrated language, creativity, culture and our shared values.

The project played a key role in libraries gently delivering activities with the wider community in a world that was still dealing with Covid. Each library worked with their local communities and partners to offer sessions in parks and libraries where participants got to create activities or artwork which allowed them to show off their mother tongues alongside their cultural heritages.

The library staff team were tireless in bringing this project to life and went way beyond the extra mile in what was required to meet the project criteria. There was a real exploration of people connecting and finding the places where their lives overlapped such as in food, friendship, games, nature and the natural environment, creativity and the arts. The atmosphere created by the project's many events was warm, friendly, curious and respectful, which created a safe place for the naturally occurring conversations around racism and people's lived experiences to be shared.