“And the Award goes to…”

Ruth Walters with the Westminster Music Library IAML Excellence Award certificate 2016On Saturday 2 April, in a swish hotel on the outskirts of Manchester, during this year’s International Association of Music Libraries (IAML) annual conference, we paused while the red carpet was laid out and the assembled delegates were transformed with sparkly frocks, frightening ‘up dos’ and slick tuxedos… well maybe not quite that sparkly, but The BAFTAs, The Oscars, The Grammys, none of them can hold a candle to The IAML Excellence in Music Libraries Awards.

A host of IAML delegates were assembled to celebrate the fantastic achievements of colleagues representing music libraries of all shapes and sizes across the UK and Ireland; no matter what their sector or type.

Some aspire to greatness, and others achieve it. In the music library world there are some folks who just keep getting better and better at providing all manner of services for their customers, whether they are tiny tots, learned professors, or all manner of people, young and old, in-between. Some have forged successful partnerships, devised innovative events programmes or organised fascinating exhibitions, others have achieved new levels of co-operation with schools and universities or are recognised for their special collections or outreach programmes. One thing’s for sure, all these award winning libraries are impressive, and demonstrate the dedication and passion of library staff determined to provide their customers with the best music library service they can.

The other thing about the IAML “Biennale” is it gives everyone an opportunity to adopt and adapt some of the work that the Award winners are so skilled at doing. We all know that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and following someone’s good work and good practice is surely the most flattering pat on the back of all.

The nominations for this year’s Awards were judged by a panel of experts from both the music and library worlds, chaired by Jan Smaczny, Professor Emeritus of Music, Queen’s University, Belfast.

Professor Jan Smaczny, Chair of the IAML (UK & IRL) awards panelMusic libraries play a key role in supporting the study, performance and enjoyment of music and underpin the vibrant diverse musical life and heritage in the UK and Ireland and, as Professor Smaczny has said,

“the very musical infrastructure of the United Kingdom and Ireland depends fundamentally on the work of music librarians”.

And who are we to argue with the good Prof?

And finally, I must ‘blow the trumpet’ for Westminster Music Library, as we were indeed honoured with our fourth Excellence Award, which I was both delighted and proud to accept on behalf of my wonderful team.  Here’s why we were selected:

The service was particularly commended for its proactive working in seeking out new projects and partnerships, which engage with both users and potential users. The expert staffing levels and training offered to both staff and the public were also commended, as was the excellent stock and publicising of the service.  The panel felt that the library is a ‘national resource’ and a benchmark for ‘excellence’.

Thank you IAML, we are absolutely thrilled, and it is nice to wear a frock occasionally…


IAML Study Weekend 2016  IAML Excellence Award certificate 2016

Ruth didn’t mention the whole story above – we’re very pleased and proud to say that she also won a personal acheivement award:

“The judging panel recognised that Ruth continues to bring energy, enthusiasm, creativity and professionalism to both Westminster Music Library and more widely to IAML (UK & Irl).  Under her management WML – one of the UK’s leading public music libraries – continues to take on new challenges in creative partnership working, event organising, and delivering an excellent music library service to its members.  So much of what Ruth – and WML – does is Excellent and a benchmark for others to be inspired by and follow.  One recent project of note is a partnership with the Armed Forces in which Ruth secured funding from the Ministry of Defence to set up a choir ‘Joint Force Singers’ with Westminster’s Armed Forces.  Ruth’s ongoing events programmes, community partnerships and fundraising have raised the profile of a specialist music service in the community, introducing new customers – children and adults – to the world of music.”
– from the IAML blog

Congratulations to Ruth and team once more!


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