Libraries Connected is launching a new awards scheme to recognise the achievements of library staff over the past year.
The organisation said that during the coronavirus lockdown libraries and their staff "kept communities connected and supported the most vulnerable" using their skills, empathy and flexibility to respond to the rapidly evolving situation. It said an awards scheme is "the perfect opportunity to reward their efforts".
Its awards are open to individuals or teams and will be made in six categories: culture and creativity; health and wellbeing; information and digital; reading; children's promise; and visual and print impaired people’s promise. The awards will be sponsored by OverDrive, a digital reading platform for libraries and schools, and creator of the library reading app Libby.
Isobel Hunter, chief executive of Libraries Connected, said: "The past year has seen library staff across the country going beyond expectations to provide essential services and continue to develop their offer to engage with their communities. These new awards are a wonderful way to celebrate all that they have achieved during the pandemic, so I’m delighted to welcome OverDrive as a partner on our debut awards and thank them for their continued support."
Nick Forster, regional manager at OverDrive, added: "Library services and their staff have risen to the extraordinary challenges of the last 18 months in so many extraordinary ways and we’re very pleased to be able to take this opportunity to support the Libraries Connected awards in acknowledging just some of the fantastic things that have been achieved."
Sue Williamson, director for libraries at Arts Council England, commented: "As the national development agency for public libraries, Arts Council England is delighted to see the work and skills of library staff recognised through Libraries Connected’s new award system, sponsored by Overdrive. We recognise that culture is rooted in our communities and public libraries are a cultural organisation at the heart of those communities."
Nominations for the awards close on 30th July. The award winners will be announced at the Libraries Connected annual seminar on 19th October at a special awards dinner.
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