London Borough of Merton’s Library Service has won the prestigious Library Association’s Libraries Change Lives Award, set up by the Library Association to celebrate the value of libraries to people and their communities.

Awarded to Merton for its outstanding Refugee Resources Collection and Service, staff from the library service were presented with £4000 and a trophy by the poet John Hegley at the Library+information Show at the NEC in Birmingham.

Chosen from 33 entries nationwide, Merton Libraries’ pioneering project seeks to help asylum seekers and refugees become self-sufficient and make a new life.

Library staff regularly visit a local drop-in centre where they issue books and other materials in a range of identified ethnic languages.

Groups are walked to the nearest library to show how easy it is to gain access to a wealth of information and the library service has organised a range of arts and cultural events focusing on the lives of refugees.

On winning the Award, Di Reynolds of Merton Libraries said: “Refugees are fugitives from war, persecution and natural disaster, victims in a strange country.

“They need a cultural route map through the confused and sometimes hostile environment in which they find themselves, and help and support so that they can become self-sufficient and start a new life.

“This was our aim in creating Merton Libraries Refugee Resources and Collection Service. We are delighted to win this prestigious Award which is recognition of the hard work of all the staff involved in the project.’


Note to editors:

 Photos of the Project Manager and the Library Support Assistant helping Asylum seekers during one of their regular visits to Asylum Welcome are available.

 The judging panel for The Library Association’s Libraries Change Lives Award is: Philip Wark, Vice Chair of The Library Association’s Community Services Group; Pat Flynn, Head of Library and Information Services, Leicester; Kevin Harris, Head of Information at The Community Development Foundation and Gospatric Home, Founder of the Library + information Show

 The Library Association is the Chartered professional body for Librarians and Information Managers. .