Bookworm and Arts Council boss Sue Williamson gets MBE for her work in the library service

A Lancashire library gave Sue Williamson an enduring love of books.

By Fiona Finch
Wednesday, 1st June 2022, 10:30 pm
Updated Thursday, 2nd June 2022, 8:39 am
Sue Williamson has been awarded an MBE
Sue Williamson has been awarded an MBE

So much so that she embarked on a career in the library service once the opportunity arose.

Now her passion for books and all that libraries can offer has seen her gain the MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

The 66 year old from Eccleston, near Chorley, is the National Director, Libraries, for Arts Council England.

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It was her early experience choosing books at Burnley library which set her off as a life-long library fan.

To be honoured by the Queen is a particular delight for someone whose career in libraries started just some 20 or so years ago.

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She said: “I’m absolutely delighted. It’s such an accolade really and a kind of affirmation and recognition – it’s such an affirmation of what we do.”

She explained that her library career got off to a late start as her husband’s job in the RAF meant they moved home a lot.

Sjhe said: “I didn’t really start building a career until the end of the 90s.”

She added: “Libraries are community connectors and bring us together. They sit in the heart of their community. They stand for education, recreation, information and culture.”

The mother of two plans to celebrate with a Zoom party as she shares news of the honour with her family. She said: “We’ll have a bottle of champagne and a Zoom call.”

Sue was previously head of service for St Helens council between 2013 and 2017. Her MBE has been awarded for services to the library sector. The citations lists Sue’s notable achievements including The Cultural Hubs: Arts in Libraries programme from 2013 to present, which won the National Lottery Award forBest Arts Project in 2016 and the 2017 Arts Council report on the value of Public Libraries in Place Shaping.

It states: “Her contribution to increasing the visibility of libraries can be seen in the Arts Council’s new 10-year strategy, Let’s Create .Libraries are at the heart of the strategy, recognising the cultural contribution libraries make to society.”

She has also worked with major organisations such as Carnegie UK and the Wellcome Trust.