Suffolk’s new libraries body appoints general manager


Suffolk’s library service in partnership with local library groups has made its first staff appointment.

Alison Wheeler, who has worked in the libraries industry for close to 33 years, will become Suffolk’s Libraries IPS’ general manager at the beginning of February 2012.

Alison is currently Suffolk County Council’s head of service development for information, advice and library services, a role she’s held since 2008. Prior to this, Alison served as the authority’s adult services manager where she led a number of changes and improvements to the library service including maximising the use of self-service facilities and Sunday opening, and introducing health information services and Top-time clubs for older people.

In 1997, Alison was seconded from Suffolk to manage and develop the East Midlands Regional Library System, a regional library charity. Two years later, she set up and then led a new regional agency for libraries in the East of England.

Alison has worked in a number of frontline library roles as a children’s, branch and team librarian. She has lived and worked in Suffolk over 30 years.

Look forward to the challenges ahead, Alison said:

“I’m thrilled to be offered this role and to be given the opportunity to work with the IPS board, staff and local library groups. I want to use my new role to make the IPS a strong and successful organisation which will help secure the future of Suffolk’s library service. I’m a passionate believer in the contribution that libraries can make to people’s lives and have dedicated most of my working life to them. I’m looking forward to playing my part in the next stage of our library service’s development.”

Clive Fox, chair of Suffolk’s Libraries IPS’ interim board, said:

“The founder members are delighted to welcome Alison to this new and challenging role. She will be able to start working with the board on detailed start-up plans very soon, and her knowledge and skills are needed for the many key tasks we have to tackle. Those include establishing the future professional team, building the partnerships with local communities, and ensuring that libraries continue to provide their current first class service to the public.”

Suffolk’s Libraries IPS will take forward Suffolk’s library service and run it in partnership with community groups. It will oversee the transfer of library staff and the negotiation of the contract with Suffolk County Council. The interim board will be replaced by a board elected by IPS members within 18 months.

Suffolk County Council will retain its statutory responsibility for library services and will continue to be accountable for ensuring a county-wide network is provided. The county council will also retain sufficient in-house libraries expertise to ensure the council’s legal duties are met.