Libraries Connected holds first awards to recognise achievements of library staff

Libraries Connected holds first awards to recognise achievements of library staff

Libraries Connected held its first ever awards this week, to recognise and celebrate the achievements of library staff over the past year. 

The organisation received more than 100 nominations from library services around the country. The charity said it had been "inspired" by the creativity and determination of library staff, who had gone "beyond expectations during the pandemic to provide essential services and continue to develop their offer to engage with their communities".

The awards were judged by library leaders, Libraries Connected trustees and national figures, including bestselling author Lesley Pearce, poet Joseph Coelho and Geraldine Collinge from the Royal Shakespeare Company.

The Death Positive Library Project Team at Vision Redbridge won the Health and Wellbeing Award for their work promoting the role of libraries as powerful and compassionate spaces to support conversations around death, dying and bereavement. Laura Smith, an apprentice at City of London Libraries, received the Reading Award for her work developing the "What Next? Book Recommendation Quiz" which enables users to get recommendations for e-books which resulted in a significant increase in loans. 

Sam Whitehouse, customer service assistant at Wakefield Libraries, won the Culture and Creativity Award 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. Basia Godel, library assistant at North Yorkshire Libraries, scooped the Information and Digital Award 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.

Shaun Doyle, library assistant at North Yorkshire Libraries, landed the Children's Promise Award for his work in establishing a 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. Helen Cunningham, access and inclusion librarian at Derbyshire Libraries, received the Vision and Print Impaired People's Promise Award 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 at Libraries Connected, said: "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."

Sue Williamson, director for libraries at Arts Council England, added: "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."