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Derbyshire Libraries shortlisted three times in national awards

The shortlist for a prestigious awards scheme recognising the achievements and good practice of people working in libraries has named Derbyshire County Council staff and services three times.

The first Libraries Connected Awards 2021 were launched earlier this year and aim to celebrate the achievements of people working in libraries, acknowledging excellence and showcasing good practice.

The national Libraries Connected charity, which is part-funded by the Arts Council, was looking for individuals or teams working in public libraries who have had a positive impact on the library service, library users or the local community. 

The shortlist for the award categories was announced this week, with two librarians and a service team from the county council making the list.

Councillor Barry Lewis, Derbyshire County Council Leader and Cabinet Member for Strategic Leadership, Culture, Tourism and Climate Change, welcomed the shortlist announcement and praised library staff for their hard work in helping people to access the service during the pandemic.

In the awards' 'Reading' category, librarian Chris Bertenshaw has been shortlisted for his development of a library eNewsletter during the pandemic which was used to promote reading, keep customers engaged and up-to-date with library developments.

It also highlighted activities people could take part in while coronavirus restrictions including lockdowns were in place. Chris tailored the content to suit various reading tastes, ages and needs, highlighting audio and eBooks and digital magazines. 

In the Vision and Print Impaired People’s category, a service and a librarian have been nominated. 

Access and Inclusion librarian Helen Cunningham has been shortlisted for her work transforming the Buxton Library Listening Group for people with sight loss to an online listening group accessible to people anywhere in the county.

Lockdown meant that the listening group was unable to meet in the library so Helen kept in contact with members by phone, helping them to download Borrowbox and borrow e-audio books, and then provided support to help them set up Microsoft Teams. This meant members, including new members from across the county, were able to meet to discuss their reading, share information and chat, which also helped to combat isolation during the lockdowns.

Also in this category, the DCC Library Services Home Library Team have been shortlisted for their work during the pandemic.

When the specialised library service, free to people who can’t access libraries due to health needs, was forced to temporarily suspend its services due to the pandemic, the team rallied round to support the thousands of vulnerable customers who had no access to reading materials, setting up a temporary service to keep in touch with as many customers as they could.

Councillor Lewis said: “These are prestigious awards set up to recognise excellence, innovation and dedication to the library service, where staff have gone the extra mile to benefit people of all ages, across all communities.

“To appear three times on the shortlist is an achievement in itself and something everyone involved should be immensely proud of. We will wait to see what the judging panel concludes in October.”

The awards will be judged by a panel of leading experts in work related to each category, and the winners will be announced at a ceremony in October.

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