The Bookseller's Library of the Year Award is returning for a third year, celebrating the vital contribution libraries make to their communities—despite the temporary closure forced on public library buildings during the coronavirus lockdown.
The annual award highlights the work the best libraries of all sizes—including public libraries, school libraries, prison libraries and specialist libraries—do to promote reading, literacy, information and the love of books. It is sponsored by OverDrive and run in partnership with The Reading Agency. Children's Laureate Cressida Cowell will be among the judges for this year's award.
The coronavirus crisis puts libraries—alongside all the rest of us—in an unprecedented situation. Yet we still want to recognise the crucially important work they do, through thick and thin. A shortlist of outstanding libraries will be profiled in a special issue of The Bookseller to be published in July; that issue will also reveal an overall winner, who will receive a golden Nibbie, the coveted trophy of the British Book Awards, and be named Library of the Year 2020.
Judging alongside Cressida Cowell will be Faber & Faber c.e.o. Stephen Page; Fraser Hutchinson, head of publisher partnerships at The Reading Agency; OverDrive country manager Paul Davighi; former librarian turned library campaigner Andrew Coburn; and members of The Bookseller team.
Libraries are asked to produce their submissions by a deadline date of Tuesday 26th May 2020. Details on the submission process and the key criteria on which libraries will be judged are to be found here.
Nigel Roby, chief executive of The Bookseller, said: "The Covid-19 lock down has placed a new burden on libraries on top of the pressures that they were already facing. I know that the libraries we will showcase in the Library of the Year programme will provide yet more validation of the invaluable work that they do. Out of this crisis, a new spirit of community cohesion has emerged—a spirit that mirrors the role that libraries play. It will be this new spirit that should finally get libraries the recognition that they deserve."
The Reading Agency's Fraser Hutchinson added: "It's been genuinely awe-inspiring to see the resilience, innovation, and online successes of libraries during these uncertain times, and I'm looking forward to being on the Library of the Year team to celebrate and shine a light on libraries' brilliance and importance at this time."
OverDrive's Paul Davighi commented: "OverDrive is proud to once again sponsor The Bookseller’s Library of the Year Award. This is both an important annual celebration of the library service’s achievements and a reminder that even now, in this period of lockdown, libraries are still serving their patrons and continuing to perform a vital service for their communities."
Last year's award winner was Harrogate Library, while Liverpool Central Library was Library of the Year in 2018.