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Cambridgeshire Libraries team wins 2024 Libraries Connected Award

05 June 2024

On Tuesday (4 June) it was announced that a team from Cambridgeshire Libraries had won the Information and Digital category at this year’s Libraries Connected Awards.

The Libraries Connected Awards celebrate the achievements of public library staff who've had an exceptional impact on their library service, users or their local communities.

Many congratulations to Luke Oakes, Rosie Veitch, Ana Silva, and Paul Smith who have won the Information and Digital award in recognition of their work responding to urgent digital inclusion needs.

Our winning team introduced two new library services to help people in the community, including Cambridgeshire-based asylum seekers, stay connected in a digital world – LendIT and the National Databank. This work also allowed them to lead a national conversation about digital inclusion and share best practice with libraries across the UK.

LendIT is a collection of borrowable laptops, tablets and MiFi devices that has allowed new library users without access to digital technology to find jobs, attend online interviews and complete coursework. Over the service’s first 18 months the devices were borrowed 1,130 times.

The National Databank, providing free mobile SIM cards to anyone on a low income over the age of 18, has given out 2,772 SIMs since August 2023. Initially piloted at three libraries near hotels housing people seeking sanctuary in our County, the scheme has now been rolled out to 11 sites across Cambridgeshire libraries.

Gary Porter, Head of Libraries, Archives and Culture said: "Many congratulations to our award-winning team – Luke, Rosie, Ana and Paul. This award is well-deserved recognition of their fantastic efforts.

“I would also like to congratulate my colleagues Naomi Peel, Jakki Racey, Terri Lewis, and Shelley Hale who were shortlisted in the Health and Wellbeing category at this year’s awards.

“I am hugely proud of the work being done across our library services to proactively engage with and welcome refugees and asylum seekers to our County.

“Last year Cambridgeshire Libraries were awarded Libraries of Sanctuary status. This award offers further recognises the excellence of our service in our continued commitment to accessibility, tolerance and compassion.”

Anyone living, working, visiting, or studying in Cambridgeshire or neighbouring counties can join the library. Membership is free and no documents are needed.

Find out more about how library services can support new arrivals.

Cambridgeshire Libraries can also connect new arrivals with other organisations that can support them in areas such as housing, internet access, learning English, further study and finding a job, immigration and visas, and how to access health services.