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The shortlisted libraries with Anne Robinson at Gloucester Cathedral

Shortlisted libraries announced

Four Gloucestershire libraries have been shortlisted for the first David Vaisey Prize which encourages young and old to read more.

The quartet – Bream, Longlevens, Brockworth and Tuffley and Matson will now vie for the £5,000 top prize for a library initiative. The three runners-up will each receive £1,000.

They were chosen from 20 entries from libraries across Gloucestershire. The initiative has been launched with support from the Gloucestershire Library Services, the Booker Prize Foundation, the Honourable Company of Gloucestershire, playwright Alan Bennett, writer Jilly Cooper and leading Gloucestershire law firm, Willans LLP among others.

Bream Library was shortlisted for its imaginative initiative to increase the number of children to visit the library.

It runs a regular LEGO club where children build LEGO projects and gain inspiration from LEGO books which they read wit their parents.

Longlevens Library was singled out for its magical reading space with a focus on Roald Dahl. Working with community groups such as the library’s Knit and Natter and the Library Community Art Group the team created a giant knitted peach with characters from James and The Giant Peach.

They are now creating new quiet spaces based on popular children’s books. Tuffley and Matson Libraries were shortlisted for its Opening Doors initiative with Gloucester Academy.

The Year 7 students visit Tuffley library weekly and the library team provide talks and support on whatever current topic the students are working on.

Matson Library staged a Shakespeare production for the students and also worked closely with Gloucester Academy to arrange visits from students to create a safe space for young people to spend time and to encourage reading.

Brockworth Community Library won praise for its Community Hub which provides a range of events and activities for the young and the older people.

Among the sessions are tea and cake afternoons for seniors, story time for young parents and small children, Knit and Natter, walking club and regular reading sessions with teachers and pupils from the local school.

Broadcaster Anne Robinson chairs the charity’s judging panel, with Marianne Hinton, Cheltenham Music Festival chair Edward Gillespie, author Jamila Gavin, and Trevor Lee, Head of Literacy at Kingshill School in Cirencester. The winner will be announced by Anne Robinson at The Times and Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival on October 8.

David Vaisey CBE, who the prize was named after, was the son of a Tetbury gardener who has devoted his life to libraries. He won scholarships to Rendcomb and to Oxford and became the head of its Bodleian Library and one of the outstanding scholar librarians of our time.

Gloucestershire law firm Willans joins our list of supporters 

The David Vaisey Trust is delighted to have the support of its solicitors, leading Gloucestershire law firm, Willans LLP, with its quest to identify outstanding Gloucestershire library initiatives.

Celebrating its 70th birthday this year, Willans LLP is one of the longest established law firms in Cheltenham. As specialists in charity law, the firm assisted the Trust by establishing as a charitable incorporated organization.

The law firm is also donating the Willans Bowl; a trophy which will accompany the £5,000 prize money awarded to a winning county public library during The Times and Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival in October.

Commenting on the firm’s involvement, Bridget Redmond, managing partner at Willans LLP said:

“We are very proud to support the Vaisey Trust and the David Vaisey Prize in its inaugural year. Our libraries are such a valuable community resource and this initiative is a great way of putting libraries in the spotlight and acknowledging the hard work of the many volunteers who support our county and community libraries throughout Gloucestershire.”

Shortlist to be announced August 1

The first David Vaisey Prize has been successfully launched and the judging process is well under way. There have been 20 initiatives from the 39 libraries to demonstrate more borrowing, reading and discussion of books by all ages while encouraging community support and help from volunteers in their catchment areas. The Prize will be presented at The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literary Festival in October.

The panel of judges comprises Anne Robinson[the broadcaster as Chair], Marianne Hinton[a patron and supporter of several arts charties], Jamila Gavin[a local writer of children’s books] Edward Gillespie[Chair of the Cheltenham Music Festival], and Trevor Lee[Assistant Headteacher and Head of Literacy at Kingshill School in Cirencester]. They have started examining the entries and are visiting a number of libraries.

The David Vaisey Trust has been registered as a charity and has received a number of generous grants from charities, family trusts and individuals including the Gloucestershire Community Foundation, the Booker Prize Foundation, the Bodleian Library, the Honourable Company of Gloucestershire, Ernest Cook Trust, Alan Bennett, Jilly Cooper, and Sir Harvey McGrath. Representatives will, of course , be invited to the shortlist announcement in Gloucester on August 1st and to the final award presentation in Cheltenham on 8th October.

The Trustees are meeting regularly, and have made several visits to the libraries in the county over the past year to encourage entries. They have received invaluable help and advice from the Gloucestershire Library Service and the Cheltenham Festivals.

The Prize is named after David VaiseyC.B.E. David is the son of a Gloucestershire gardener from Tetbury. He won scholarships to Rencomb and Oxford. His working life was devoted to libraries, finally becoming head of Oxford’s Bodleian Library as one of the outstanding scholar librarians of our time. It is hoped that David Vaisey will be able to attend the award ceremony in his wheelchair supported by his family.

The Prize has received good coverage from local media and press and more is in the pipeline. The interest which the Prize has already generated clearly indicates that it should be continued in subsequent years.