Winner - 2018 - Maia Hipwood

On Friday March 16th , young pupil library assistants, authors and librarians gathered in Westminster to hear the announcement for the 2018 Pupil Library Assistant of the Year Award. This national award celebrates the extraordinary work that pupils do to support their school libraries.

Open to pupils who assist in school libraries across the UK, the award recognises the impact of their work on their school and its library and equally the value the school library adds to the children’s lives. Entries are judged by a panel of leading figures from the children’s book world and the school library community.

Eight finalists were selected from a very strong field of nominations from school librarians across the UK. The winner was announced by Carnegie Medal winning author, Tanya Landman at a special ceremony at Portcullis House, Westminster.

The finalists had each written a letter to the Prime Minister, telling her what their school library means to them. The letters were handed in to 10 Downing Street by the young people accompanied by Guest Author judge Steve Cole and Carnegie Medal winning author Tanya Landman. You can read these letters here....


The winner was Maia Hipwood from Howard of Effingham School in Surrey. Maia spoke of her library as a place that had built her confidence and her resilience, and she described it as a "safe haven" for all in the school. Maia has contributed to her school library in many ways, including competitions and reading initiatives. Her head teacher, Mrs Pennington said, "Maia’s influence over her peers and that of the whole Library team has affected the success of the library as a whole."

Maia was nominated by her school librarian, Cathi Woods (pictured on the right with Maia), who said, "The library thrives because of student librarians like Maia making it work and promoting a team ethos of helping with such a diverse range of requests and issues. However, those other Librarians look up to Maia as the team leader and inspiration. They are all very proud of their library as I am very proud of them and especially Maia."

Barbara Band, Chair of the Judging Panel and founder of the award said “Week after week many students support the libraries in their schools by giving of their time and effort. Sadly, this is too often unrecognised and unrewarded. Yet these students are not only helping to create a lively and effective library that responds to the needs of its users, they are also gaining valuable skills and experience in the process. This award was created to recognise that work and also to highlight the unique synergy that occurs when a pupil becomes a library assistant.”

Caroline Roche, Chair of the CILIP School Libraries Group said “The work that pupil library assistants s do is invaluable in their schools.  Many school librarians are lone workers and therefore rely heavily on assistance from pupil library assistants during busy periods.  But, more than that, many of these pupils enrich their libraries: recommending books, talking to their peers, creating newsletters, contributing to blogs, helping create displays - all the extras which can make a library vibrant and interesting. All of this enriches not only the library, but adds to their personal development.  SLG thoroughly endorses this Award.”

Alison Tarrant, Director of the School Library Association said: “I have seen first-hand the benefits that pupil library assistants can bring to a library. This award is incredibly important as it recognises the achievements made by these outstanding library helpers, and showcases exactly how much students can achieve when given the opportunity and support. This process uncovers initiative, confidence and the beginning of a work ethic: all things which are essential for a fulfilling work life.”

Recognising the valued assistance of pupils who help within their school libraries, the award is sponsored by The Worshipful Company of Arbitrators; Authors Aloud UK, a company specialising in organising author visits; EES for Schools, an organisation that provides a range of specialist education services; leading children’s publisher, Macmillan Children’s Books; and MLS, a company that produces high specification library systems for schools. The award’s logo was specially designed by Children’s Laureate 2015 - 2017 Chris Riddell.

The award is organised by a panel consisting of members of the School Library Association, the CILIP School Libraries Group, Authors Aloud UK, EES, and the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP).