York’s top librarian Fiona Williams has dedicated her New Year’s Honour to her staff who worked tirelessly through the pandemic.
Fiona has been awarded the British Empire Medal for services to libraries in the honours revealed tonight (Friday, 31 December).
In 2004 she was appointed York’s head of libraries. Under her leadership she created Explore York, which became the UK’s first public library mutual owned by its staff and the community when launched in 2014.
Fiona, the chief executive of Explore York Libraries and Archives, said: “I am honoured and humbled to have been nominated to receive this award, but really this recognition is for all of the Explore team who are here in our libraries making a difference every day.
“It could be anything from that warm welcome in our local libraries, reading stories at rhymetime and encouraging children to develop a lifelong joy in reading, supporting someone to get online or having a friendly chat over a coffee in one of our Reading Cafes, to developing our award winning Explore Labs or Big City Read.
“I am especially proud of the way that our staff made sure that our libraries were here for the people of York during the pandemic.
“They learned new skills and piloted new services to provide the best possible library and archive service and I’m very proud of them.
“I am confident that in the future our innovative Explore libraries and archives will meet any challenge that comes our way so Explore can continue to grow and thrive, wherever the road takes us.”
Cllr Darryl Smalley, executive member for culture, leisure and communities at City of York Council, said: “This is fantastic news.
“The Explore library service that York residents value so highly owes so much of its distinctive ethos to the personal vision of Fiona. This recognition of her contribution to York as well as to libraries nationally is richly deserved”.