Hillingdon wins best library innovator of the year

Hillingdon libraries are celebrating a national award for their service.

The borough was presented with the Library Innovation of the Year from Bookseller Industry Awards 2011 on Monday.

Libraries in Hillingdon are experiencing a growing number of visitors, following a rebuild and refurbishment programme by the council.

One judge from the panel said the programme helped make libraries a better place to visit.

The Bookseller editor-in-chief and chair of the judging panel, Neill Denny, said: “Despite operating in a fast-changing market, the winners of these awards have shown themselves to be innovative and successful during a challenging time for the industry.”

Hillingdon is one of the only local authorities in London to guarantee its libraries are safe from closures and it is thought increased book stock and better lighting are among factors which have attracted a wide age range of visitors.

Hillingdon’s libraries announced record number of visitors last year, including more than 80,000 in some.

Councilor Henry Higgins, cabinet member for Culture, Sport and Leisure, said: “It is a reward for all the staff for their hard work. It is the work behind the scenes that make these things possible.

“The biggest thank you has to go to the residents for using the services because they are the ones that keep our libraries open.”

The changes started in 2006, with the council recognising the love residents had for the libraries before the economic crisis.

Councilor Higgins used his financial background and business experience to help oversee the changes and reduce the costs in the council to fund the initiative.

Birmingham and Oxford local authorities have asked the councilor for advice on libraries and cutting costs and he says he gave it to them willingly and openly.

On councils closing down libraries in the UK he said: “There are too many tiers of management. They can streamline it to make it more efficient.”

Over half the libraries have been refurbished and the process is set to finish in the spring of 2012.

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