14 March 2013 Last updated at 10:51, 23/08/2016

Libraries Change Lives Award past winners and finalists

Over the years we have had some fantastic winners, doing amazing things in their communities. Here are details of past winners and finalists.

2015 Winner: North Ayrshire Libraries'

Appiness - a digital learning and esafety programme for preschoolers and parents 

Appiness is a digital education programme that kick-starts very young children’s learning in a range of areas including literacy, numeracy, art, music, science and technology. The project teaches the safe and informed use of digital technologies including PCs and tablets to access a  special collection of learning materials and apps/ Parents also take part in the programme, learning about online safety controls and how to use technology to support their child’s development. The targeted initiative was developed by North Ayrshire Council’s library staff as an early intervention against challenges around poverty and attainment in the area, which has Scotland’s highest level of youth unemployment.

Read more and watch the video

2015 Finalists 

Portsmouth City Council Libraries: Library Services for the Vision Impaired
Shortlisted for their work to provide a comprehensive programme of resources for visually impaired members of the community, Portsmouth City Libraries help the visually impaired community increase their independence and wellbeing; and have formed a strong links into the community to ensure the needs of visually impaired people are taken into account in the planning and delivery of local services. Services include a helpline, a dedicated information offering, translation services into alternative formats, a Braille service and assistive technologies, and group events including a book club and regular events. Thousands have engaged with the service in the past year as visually impaired citizens suffer disproportionally due to reductions in equalities roles within authorities and support services arising from national austerity. The library is working to extend inclusion and accessibility for the visually impaired within the region via partnerships with the region’s schools, community groups and other agencies.


St Helens Library Services: Cultural Hubs
‘Cultural Hubs’ are helping St. Helens Council deliver its objectives of improving the skills and learning of local people, engaging with the needs of local young people, supporting neighbourhood development and community cohesion and promoting an environment that supports the health and wellbeing agenda, through creative use of the arts across St. Helen’s libraries. The borough is one of the most deprived in the UK however the library service has struck several partnerships that are actively driving a major transformation improving mental and physical health and tackling social care problems in the town via performances and transformative arts projects in the library spaces. Users of the service are typically those accessing adult social care and health services or at risk of needing these services.

See more and watch their films

2014 Winner: Northamptonshire Library and Information Service

Enterprise Hubs for would-be entrepreneurs

Northamptonshire Library and Information Service and the Northampton Enterprise Partnership (NEP) work together to provide a new business information and marketing service for people in the region who have skills or ideas they would like to turn into self-employment or business start-ups, including many would-be job-seekers who cannot find opportunities in the local job market. Together the library and NEP encourage users to use their skills to turn themselves into self-employed entrepreneurs.

Users are supported with free and low cost business expertise via drop-in sessions, one-on-one consultations, workshops and valuable insight into local markets and opportunities, as well as access to low-cost office and meeting space. 

Since launching in April 2012 the service has helped over 900 people, 105 of whom are known to be trading in areas ranging from cleaning services to boat-building and from creative arts to veterinary lab services – this accounts for about 10% of all the county’s start-ups in that period. At least 12 of these new businesses have become employers of staff or apprentices. 

2014 Finalists

KidsHub Library Sessions - Hertfordshire Library Service in partnership with the charity KidsHub

This project runs closed library sessions and special tailored activity sessions for children aged 0-19 and their families, who have additional needs such as autism, cerebral palsy and profound and multiple learning difficulties, recognising that this community was not typically part of their visitor profile. 

Working with KidsHub, Hertfordshire Libraries learned that many parents of children with special needs worry that their children would be disruptive of other visitors in the library space, and that the children themselves are often unsettled by new environments and experiences. The tailored closed sessions allow these members of the community to use the library without feeling anxious or uncomfortable. This has opened the library up as a welcome place for the projects’ families to visit during regular opening hours and many of the children and their families now have enriched lives with access to books, reading & the library’s electronic resources and a welcome place to visit, socialise and integrate with other members of the community.

Studio 12: Writing Leeds – A partnership between Leeds Library & Information Service and specialist local film production company Left Eye Blind.

The library encourages visitors to come into their dedicated audio visual studio where library staff encourage them to express verbally their thoughts about their place in their environment, then work with them to turn these into pieces of creative writing. Left Eye Blind then work with selected participants to turn these pieces of writing into short films giving the writers the experience of co-producing a piece of cinema to industry standard.  Most of the users come from Leeds BME communities; many were excluded from school, experienced poor formal education and many have been long-term unemployed. The project has had a direct impact on their self-confidence and feeling of social inclusion giving them visible personal development. Users have achieved an accredited qualification for the project and have gone on to pursue further training or study, or secured employment in the creative industries. 

Find out more

short film and a series of photographs show each of the 2014 projects in action.

2013 Winner: Surrey County Council Libraries 

Domestic Abuse, How Surrey Libraries Can Help

With their award-winning project, Surrey County Council Libraries offers support and guidance to those experiencing domestic abuse and to survivors of domestic abuse, providing vital information and resources in a safe environment. They help those who have experienced sexual, emotional, physical, financial and violent abuse, forced marriage and genital mutilation. They also work with frontline domestic abuse professionals to support their work and jointly develop services to increase awareness throughout the Surrey population of the scale of domestic abuse in the county. Highlights of Surrey County Council Libraries work includes: Information through specialised book stock, covering all aspects of domestic abuse, dispersed across the county for discretion as well as ease of reservation, and dedicated web pages and signposting to other local and national services. Events for residents experiencing domestic abuse, including self-esteem workshops, poetry sessions run with a local survivors support group, and a poetry and art session run with the local youth support group service. A domestic abuse survivors reading group. e-book readers and e-book downloading training for refuge residents. Awareness of the services offered to those experiencing or who have experienced domestic abuse and the professionals working with them, forging links between the library service with the police, borough and district councils, Crimestoppers and the Surrey and Sussex Probation Service. Increasing awareness of domestic abuse amongst County Council staff.

Video about Domestic abuse, how Surrey libraries can help on Youtube

2013 Finalists 

Dementia Friendly Libraries in Kent, Kent County Council Libraries, Registration and Archives
In partnership with Alzheimer’s Society, Dementia UK, Age Concern and others, Kent County Council, Registration and Archives have developed an innovative offer to help people living with dementia and their carers. These include their ‘Read Aloud’ and ‘Pictures to Share’ sessions, helping to stimulate memory and provide enjoyment. They have worked with Kent Gateways to develop a substantial library offer, to provide information and signposting, to train staff and volunteers and to raise awareness of dementia in Kent and beyond.

Video about Dementia Friendly Libraries in Kent on Youtube

Reading and You, Kirklees Libraries and Information Centres
Bibliotherapy is the use of fiction and poetry to support and increase positive outcomes for people with mental health and wellbeing issues. Reading and You works in libraries, hospitals and community organisation's premises to highlight the value of reading and libraries to inspire and engage with those who may be difficult to reach due to mental ill health. They help those suffering from depression, bi polar disorder, psychoses such as schizophrenia, dementia and people with drug and alcohol addiction.

Video about Reading and You on Youtube

2012 Winner: North Yorkshire County Council & North Yorkshire Youth Music Action Zone 

Library Songwriters

Library Songwriters: Skipton Rewind Club, North Yorkshire County Council & North Yorkshire Youth Music Action Zone 
‘Library Songwriters: Skipton Rewind Club’ offers teenagers the chance to meet with library staff and a youth worker to develop their song writing skills, using the library as a cultural centre. However, with hard work and dedication from all of those involved, it has done much more than that. The project has encouraged continued engagement with the public library, curbing the decline that usually occurs when children enter secondary education.

But song writing and library use is only part of the story. Skipton Rewind Club provides youngsters with a safe space to build their confidence and friendships and through developing and delivering their own events, the teenagers learn vital transferable skills that will help them in an increasingly competitive jobs market.

View 'Library Songwriters: Skipton Rewind Club' on YouTube

2012 Finalists

Reminiscence Collection, Norfolk Library and Information Service and Norfolk Museum & Archaeology Service
Since 2007 the Norfolk Library and Information Service and Norfolk Museum and Archaeology Service have worked closely with a local hospital on creating their Reminiscence Kits. These are a collection of objects, photographs, music and scents to stimulate the senses and remind those suffering with dementia of the things that have happened throughout their lives. The Reminiscence Kits, available to loan through the library service, have enabled meaningful exchanges to take place between those with dementia and their loved ones. 

View 'Reminiscence Collection' on YouTube.

The Digital Bazaar, Lambeth Libraries and Archives
One Saturday morning each month, the community around Tate South Lambeth Library join their local library team to explore all things digital - the internet, computers, mobile phones, digital cameras, iPads, e-readers etc.  Experienced users learn about new devices and programmes alongside beginners who are using the internet for the first time. As well as stressing the importance of neighbourly sharing, this free event showcases the role of the library service as a major national digital resource. After the successful Lambeth pilot, other local authorities are keen to introduce the Digital Bazaar in their libraries.

View 'Digital Bazaar' on YouTube.