Two of North Yorkshire’s youngest librarians have been crowned winners in this year’s Libraries Connected awards which celebrate the achievements of people working in libraries.

Basia Godel, 25, won the Information and Digital category and Shaun Doyle, 23, the Children and Young People category.

Basia is a Library Assistant who is deeply committed to supporting equality and diversity. She celebrated Black History Month by commemorating notable Black figures from North Yorkshire's history. It was one of the many ways in which libraries support our objectives on community cohesion and racial justice.

Basia initiated, organised and presented a free online webinar called The Black History of Yorkshire and Harrogate, which was attended by over 100 people reaching audiences from Paris, Ghana, Dominica and Vietnam. The event featured actor and writer Joe Williams, founder of Heritage Corner Leeds, as well as Audrey Dewjee, a Harrogate resident who specialises in the local history of people of African heritage.

She said: “It’s wonderful that a Diversity, Equality and Inclusion project won national recognition – I really hope that this inspires others to pursue similar projects in the future. I hope this also results in more awards and recognition being given to Black and other historically marginalised groups.

“Sadly, racism is very prevalent in today's society. I think that the responsibility of anyone with any kind of platform is to amplify supressed voices, and that is all I try to do. I'm passionate about this because I'm passionate about ending discrimination, and the truthful retelling of history is an important part of that. I learned new things about local Black history through this project so I hope it has been interesting for our customers.”

Shaun joined the library service as a young volunteer before securing a job as a Library Assistant. He is passionate about the opportunities libraries offer, particularly those for young people and he has researched, devised and suggested numerous ideas to better engage young people in libraries.

During the first lockdown Shaun led on the creation of the Young Adult Library Team (YALT), with youth engagement as its focus. The team consists of young library staff who don’t have a managerial role. It has made recommendations contributing to stock policy, promotion strategies and new services aimed at supporting mental health.

Shaun sought out examples of best practice from elsewhere, initiating discussions and making contact with local partners such as North Yorkshire Youth. He identified a young writer at York University and encouraged her to volunteer her time and skills to run a LGBTQ+ writing workshop. His motivation was to give young LGBTQ+ people an opportunity to express themselves and provide a platform for them to have a voice.

“I’m exceptionally lucky to be a Library Assistant within North Yorkshire,” said Shaun. “Our service goals are at the core at everything I’ve done because they represent a library service I want for the future – a service that is inclusive, builds community cohesion, provides life-changing opportunities and overall be the home from home for everyone. That’s why I set up YALT.

“I’m really grateful to achieve this award. There are so many great libraries, ideas and staff across North Yorkshire and beyond, but many would go unnoticed if not for awards and articles. Every single one of us has endless potential; let’s find ways to release it and demonstrate why libraries are so awesome!”

County Councillor Greg White, Executive Member for Libraries, added: “Basia and Shaun have gone above and beyond the call of duty in delivering some major projects so I’m delighted they have been recognised in the Libraries Connected awards.

“Despite the hard times we have endured over the last 18 months, there are great examples of how our library staff have continued to inform, educate and support residents, as well as finding innovative ways to reach new audiences.”