Library of the Year: Harrogate Library triumphs on nine-strong shortlist

Library of the Year: Harrogate Library triumphs on nine-strong shortlist

North Yorkshire’s Harrogate Library has won The Bookseller’s Library of the Year Award 2019. A further eight libraries are also celebrated on the shortlist, unveiled today, including a school library and a specialist audiobook library.

The award, run in partnership with charity The Reading Agency, was judged by Penguin General m.d. Joanna Prior; The Reading Agency’s head of publisher partnerships Fraser Hutchinson; Paul Davighi, UK country manager of sponsor Rakuten Overdrive; Miles Stevens-Hoare, general manager of W F Howes, also a sponsor; librarian-turned-library campaigner Andrew Coburn; and a team from The Bookseller. The shortlist was compiled from a number of entries submitted to The Bookseller in May.

Harrogate Library’s energetic approach and packed programme has seen it become a real centre of the community, with a strong track record across the board: with children, with older teenagers, experienced adult readers and library newcomers alike.

Harrogate's digital skills classes

It won on a shortlist which presented strong competition: two Scottish libraries (newly refurbished Montrose Library and high-achieving Shetland Library); an outstanding school library in Solihull’s Arden Academy; Eltham Library, with its literary play space for children, The Enchanted Story Garden; Libraries NI, the only full library service to be recognised this year; the unique London Library, with its impressive lending collection; and audiobook library Listening Books.

For the first time, The Bookseller’s Library of the Year shortlist also includes a commendation for a volunteer-run library, Preston Community Library in Brent. Although the award supports professionally-run libraries with paid and qualified staff, this year we felt there should also be some recognition of the commitment and hard work shown by volunteers who keep a form of library provision in their community against the odds.

Overdrive’s Davighi said: “There was a high standard of entrants for the Library of the Year Award this year; what was in evidence with all the shortlisted libraries was the tenacity and ingenuity of their outreach work. Harrogate is a powerhouse in its community and a great hub for books and reading. The library offers an attractive array of courses and opportunities for interest groups to meet and, at the same time, combines with a local theatre and a bookshop to help promote its service as a real venue for access to literature.”

Harrogate's juniors section

W F Howes’ Stevens-Hoare added: “All of the entries demonstrated the value that libraries deliver to their communities, as well as the enthusiasm for what librarians do. Harrogate showed an exceptional connection with its locality, along with creativity and dedication that ensued its impact was, and is, very powerful.”

The Reading Agency’s Hutchinson added: “It’s a moment to stop and celebrate the energy and creativity of librarians, and the tangible benefits and impact that libraries have brought to their local areas. Harrogate Library has exemplified this: an incredibly popular hub at the heart of the community, with a fantastic outreach programme.

It is fundamentally focused on the power of books and the library space to change lives, and bolsters this through a range of truly inclusive programmes and events.”

Read more about our winning library—and the other eight shortlistees—here.