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Magazines > Marketing Library Services > January/February 2018

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MLS - Marketing Library Services
Vol. 32 No. 1 — January/February 2018

Libraries Change Lives. Here’s Proof.
Examples to Emulate | By Kathy Dempsey

Women build confidence at Ipswich.
Women build confidence at Ipswich. [Photo courtesy of CILIP]
Books and nature come together thanks to Kirklees librarians.
Books and nature come together thanks to Kirklees librarians. [Photo courtesy of CILIP]
Prison librarians offer therapy at HMP Norwich.
Prison librarians offer therapy at HMP Norwich. [Photo courtesy of CILIP]
Ladies meet for tea and conversation at Glasgow Women's Library.
Ladies meet for tea and conversation at Glasgow Women’s Library. [Photo courtesy of CILIP]
Winners from HMP Norwich at the award ceremony with CILIP Honorary Fellow Chris Riddell (second from left).
Winners from HMP Norwich at the award ceremony with CILIP Honorary Fellow Chris Riddell (second from left). [Photo by Rolf Marriott]
The Libraries Change Lives Award is one of my favorites of the year. As its name implies, it’s all about proving how libraries can—and do—improve the lives of people who use them.

This award program is run by CILIP: the Library and Information Association, which is the U.K.’s “leading professional body for librarians, information specialists and knowledge managers.” More specifically, it’s organized by a CILIP special-interest section, the Community, Diversity and Equality Group (CDEG), which works toward the “development of a diverse library and information workforce; one that supports communities to achieve sustainable needs-based services” (

The Libraries Change Lives Award recognizes excellence and innovation in the U.K. library sector, and all details are at Any MLS readers who are discussing the value of libraries with others (you are doing that, right?) can use these amazing examples to prove that librarians are educators, difference-makers, caretakers, and community builders.

A Look at the Four Finalists

CDEG members judge all of the entries and choose a small group of finalists called a shortlist. The top winner comes from this elite group. All short-listers have a 3-minute video created by CILIP to explain and highlight their services (see all videos at In the 2017 contest, there were four short-listed projects. Here’s a bit about each, gleaned from the awards’ website:

Ipswich Library, Suffolk: Ipswich created Chat and Chill, a dedicated service for local women from diverse and international backgrounds. “The service helps the women integrate and provides a regular space where participants can practice their English, make friends and feel welcomed to Suffolk life. The group’s main purpose, however, is to teach life skills and build people’s confidence, with topics like banking, reading a utility bill and visiting the doctor.” Chat and Chill began 8 years ago to help Asian women in particular. It’s also been recognized with a local business award for social inclusion.

HMP Norwich library, Norwich: The librarians at Her Majesty’s Prison Norwich have created a program of weekly cognitive stimulation therapy to serve “a previously ‘lost’ group of elderly prisoners serving life sentences, who are suffering from memory loss, dementia and depression.” This treatment is recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and is said to be as effective as medication. While the service was designed for the elderly, it’s also open to younger prisoners who struggle with depression or mental health issues. Prison staffers who work in this unit report “a positive culture change on the wing since the introduction of the service, with more social mixing and a calmer atmosphere, both inside and outside the group.”

Kirklees Libraries, West Yorkshire: The librarians in the governmental district of Kirklees organized a Family Storywalks service to help brings families together outdoors during school holidays. “Based around literacy, exercise and community socialization, the programme engages a diverse range of families” and targets those who need encouragement to be active, to get outdoors, and to spend time sharing activities together. “Themed walks creatively promote fiction and non-fiction and encourage parents to see the value of sharing books with their children and offer children and young people opportunities for exploration, creation, and socialisation.” This focus on the outdoors enables the library service to attract the elusive demographic of males age 25–45 and also gives children male role models for literacy.

Glasgow Women’s Library, Glasgow: This library is part of the only accredited museum in the U.K. that’s dedicated to women’s lives, histories, and achievements. So the Story Café at the Women’s Library is a shared reading group only for ladies. It enables women from different backgrounds to connect over literature. “The sessions welcome women from all walks of life and specialise in working with women who are socially excluded, marginalised, vulnerable or ‘hard to reach’—including refugees and asylum seekers, women living with addictions or mental health problems or exiting the criminal justice system, and those who have experienced abuse, homelessness or poverty.” The Story Café’s themes include exploring diversity and culture in a safe, supportive space.

And the 2017 Winner Is …

The prestigious Libraries Change Lives Award was presented in London on Oct. 12, 2017, as part of CILIP’s Annual General Meeting and celebration of achievements. It’s no coincidence that it happened during the U.K.’s very first Libraries Week. According to the observance’s PR Toolkit (, “Libraries Week is the annual showcase of the best that UK libraries of all kinds have to offer. From Monday 9 to Saturday 14 October everyone is encouraged to discover what their library can do for them.”

Chris Riddell, an illustrator, political cartoonist, and three-time CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal winner, made the announcement during that showcase week. HMP Norwich library won the top honor, which includes a £4,000 (about $5,300) investment from CILIP.

HMP Norwich was recognized for the work of its own library and staff, as well as for its partnership with the Forget-Me-Nots charity, in delivering cognitive therapy to prisoners.

Commenting on this year’s award, councillor Margaret Dewsbury, chair of Norfolk County Council’s Communities Committee, said, “This is a unique project which shows the library service’s ambition to respond to the needs of hard to reach communities. This award will enable the service to continue and also help the expansion of the service to other prisons in the East of England.”

Here’s what makes this achievement even more amazing: This is the second year in a row that library services run by Norfolk County Council have won. In 2016, Norfolk’s public library and information service won the award for its countywide Healthy Libraries program to promote healthy living. This initiative aims to address the county’s most serious health priorities through Norfolk’s network of 47 libraries, in partnership with Norfolk Public Health.

Examples to Emulate

So if you want to start 2018 with fresh ideas for positive services and partnerships, let these four bold, brilliant services inspire you. Resolve to help your library change more lives this year.

Kathy Dempsey is a marketing consultant at Libraries Are Essential ( and the author of The Accidental Library Marketer. She’s been the editor of MLS for 23 years. Her email address is
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