This year’s National Acquisitions Group (NAG) Award for Excellence has been won by Bradford Libraries. This award recognised their creative and broad ranging response to the Covid-19 crisis in extremely difficult circumstances.

During the pandemic the team improved e book provision by diverting funds and promoting the offer however they also developed a system of delivering physical books and activity packs to people excluded from the digital offer via the Food Hubs in the district. The Development Team also swiftly learnt to make and edit videos to provide online storytimes and rhymetimes alongside craft activities. “The Bookstart Bear Hand Wash Song” video received national coverage and led to a further video song commission from the NHS.

The Executive Committee were particularly impressed by Bradford Libraries’ partnership with Health Librarians in hospitals during this period where they made sure health information and resources were shared as widely as possible alongside the wider library offer. They provided isolated patients with valuable distractions such as ebooks, newspapers, magazines and Ancestry, supporting their mental health and recovery.

All of these outcomes were outstanding but particularly so given they were achieved with no additional budget. Staff were willing to use their own personal equipment to make videos; and invest considerable time in learning new skills at very short notice, going above and beyond to continue to provide library services in these challenging times.

Dionne Hood, on behalf of the Development Team, said: “The team are delighted to have won the NAG Award for Excellence. Although the COVID19 lockdown has been difficult it has also provided an opportunity and necessity for us to do things differently, to be more creative and shown that libraries are crucial for many people during the most difficult of times.

We’re now looking at how we can continue adapting and providing a library offer whilst also planning for the opening up of more of the service over the coming months”

Christine May, Interim Head of Libraries, said: “ I am thrilled for the Bradford Libraries team that they have won this award and been nationally recognised in this way.  It is testament to their resourcefulness and creativity in the face of adversity, as well as their talent, commitment and excellent partnership working.  As we enter another national lockdown, this is a great morale boost and inspiration to continue to develop our offer in alternative ways.” 

The team from Bradford libraries will present a paper via webinar to the NAG Public Libraries Forum in the new year to describe their achievements and share ideas and innovation with the wider NAG community.  A recording will also be available on the NAG website for Members.