Royal honour for library manager

A LIVERPOOL library manager who has transformed the image of the service through organising gigs, events and festivals has been presented with the British Empire Medal for her work.

Development manager Denise Jones received the BEM in the 2020 Queen’s New Year Honours, but has only just been presented with it in person by the Lord Lieutenant of Merseyside, Mark Blundell, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Denise began work for the service as a library assistant in 1986 after leaving university and has had a variety of roles during her career. They include project managing the creation of Breck Road library in Anfield, working as library manager at HMP Walton where she worked with inmates and staff on skills and literacy programmes, and establishing a library at Blackburne House women’s centre.

Her current role involves leading cultural, reading and learning partnership programmes and organising events in libraries.

Projects she has played a key role in include:

  • Co-devising Liverpool MakeFest, a creative technology event attracting makers, creators, artists and musicians from across the country, becoming a blueprint for other library services and also delivering the ‘Maker Difference’ project for young people across the city’s libraries.
  • Leading on Central Library’s participation in Light Night, including performances, art installations and activities which attracted 4,000 people in 2019.
  • Partnerships with the Unity Theatre, 20 Stories High, Luma Creations, Rubbish Shakespeare Company, Not Just Collective, Get it Loud in Libraries, and Liverpool Astronomical Society.
  • Encouraging refugee and asylum seeker residents to engage with local libraries by designing services that address specific information, cultural and reading needs.

Until 2014, Denise also worked at the Liverpool Empire Theatre as a front-of-house assistant, which fed her love of musical theatre and her passion to support the development of community theatre in general.

In her spare time, she tends her allotment and has often won prizes for her jams and chutneys made using the fruit and vegetables from her plot.

She believes she was always destined to become a librarian – her parents met at a jazz concert at Central Library.

Denise said: “It’s absolutely fantastic to be awarded the British Empire Medal because it shows the high regard that libraries are held in.
“This is not only for me – it’s for everyone who is really passionate about their work in the library sector up and down the country.”

Mark Blundell, Lord Lieutenant of Merseyside, told Denise: “The diversity of work you have undertaken in the Library Service over the last 30 years has been outstanding.
“Your wonderful service to the city’s Library Services is justly recognised and this award is thoroughly deserved.”