Meet the Team

This Blog will be published monthly and will provide an overview of what is going on in each of the Libraries and Arts Service 6 geographical ‘Library Cluster Areas’. They cover the whole County. The Blog will concentrate on volunteering activities and involvement, community engagement, partnership working and importantly outcomes.

This first edition includes an overview and introduction of the Libraries and Arts Service Community Support Officers (CSOs) who work in each of these 6 ‘Cluster Areas’

What we do

We work in partnership with a number of organisations to deliver Community Managed Libraries, supported by volunteers from the communities in which the libraries are located.

We are also responsible for the recruitment and development of volunteers into Staffordshire’s 20 County Council Managed Libraries.

The Team consists of a Community Capacity Manager and 6 Community Support Officers. Each Community Support Officer or CSO’s works in particular geographical area, supporting a number of Libraries in each area.

Helen Farr

My time with Staffordshire Libraries

I am the Community Support Officer for the Stafford area. I have 3 community managed libraries – Baswich and Holmcroft Libraries, which are run in partnership with the South Staffordshire and Shropshire NHS Foundation Trust, and Rising Brook Library, which is run in partnership with Rising Brook Baptist Church. I am also working with a community organisation, linked to the Parish Council in Gnosall, to look at library provision in that community. I also support the volunteers in the county council run libraries which are in Eccleshall, Stafford and Stone.

I have been a librarian for 20 years. My first job was in Wiltshire and I had the pleasure of driving past Stonehenge every day to work. I have spent 18 of the 20 years with Staffordshire Libraries and I have done a wide range of roles from children’s librarian (my favourite storytime book was Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy) to being responsible for IT.

About me

Something that people might not know about me is that I have watched a volcano erupt!

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Ian Burley

My time with Staffordshire libraries

I joined Staffordshire Library Service in 1993 and, after briefly working at Burton Library, moved to Tamworth Library in February 1994. Over the years my role as a Librarian covered all aspects of the library service including IT, stock and also children’s work, but for a significant amount of this time I worked in Local History and Reference, which were areas that I loved.

On January 1st 2016 I became a Community Support Officer for Staffordshire Libraries, still based at Tamworth Library, but having responsibility for all volunteer based work in libraries not only in Tamworth Borough, but also in Lichfield District and East Staffs.

About me

I was born in Hemsworth, Yorkshire, but only lived there for a brief time before my family moved to Staffordshire. I was at University in Leeds. I love anything related to History, and Family History is my particular passion. I also love comedy stretching from the 1930s to present day, from Laurel & Hardy and Will Hay, to The Office and Extras. My favourite music includes Oasis, The Beatles, The Beach Boys and Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac.

Favourite Quote

He who knows does not speak. He who speaks does not know, (Lao Tze).

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Lisa Dyke

My time with Staffordshire libraries

After qualifying as a librarian, I joined Staffordshire County Library Service to cover a temporary maternity leave position at Lichfield Library. Over 25 years later and I’m still here.

I’ve worked in several locations, both in small branches and in large district libraries in a variety of posts, including reference and information, local studies and children’s services.

In my current role as Community Support Officer, I support 6 libraries on my patch with volunteer recruitment and training. These libraries, in the south of the county are Perton, Codsall, Wombourne, Penkridge, Brewood and Kinver.

Brewood has been running as a community managed library (CML) since June 2016 in partnership with South Staffordshire and Shropshire NHS Foundation Trust (SSSFT) and has over 25 active volunteers delivering the daily service.

Kinver will become a CML in the New Year and will be supported by the newly formed community group, Kinver Community Library Ltd. We have over 20 volunteers to date and are working together to expand the volunteer offer there.

About me

I share my house with 1 husband, 3 children, Greebo the anti-social cat and a tarantula called Little Miss Fluffy. I also love loud, shouty music and have a secret desire to play the drums.

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Matthew Howard

My time with Staffordshire Libraries

I am the Community Support Officer for the Newcastle area. I have five community managed libraries in this area – Audley, Knutton, Loggerheads, Silverdale and Talke. Three libraries are due to transfer in the second round of community managed library transformations. The organisations I will be working with are Audley Community Group at Audley library, Business Enterprise Support (BES) at Silverdale library and St Mary’s Primary School at Knutton library. I also support the volunteers in the county council run libraries which are Clayton, Kidsgrove and Newcastle.

I started with Staffordshire Libraries in 2005 as a library assistant at Stone Library, after studying for a degree in Modern History at University. In 2008 I moved to Blythe Bridge library as library supervisor. During my time at Blythe Bridge library I involved myself in a number of community groups; including a voluntary youth group, a voluntary group for children’s activities and the committee that developed the local children’s centre.

About me

Something that people might not know about me is that I once met Julia Donaldson and have never seen anyone perform a story as good as her!

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Cathy Attwood

I have worked in the library service for over 30yrs and 25 of these have been with Staffordshire County Council. I started as a children’s librarian, a role which I loved, sharing and exploring books with children, helping to nurture a love of reading. It amuses me now when there is an anniversary of a popular book such as the recent Roald Dahl celebrations and the BFG film and I remember enjoying the book when it was first published!

During my career I have worked with all age groups including teenagers and am proud to have instigated the Staffordshire Young Teen Fiction award now in its 10th year. The library service has seen many changes and worked with many partnerships, but has always open to ideas and new ways of working to get the best possible service.

My most recent role is as a Community Support Officer for Cannock area, covering Heath Hayes; Norton Canes; Hednesford; Cheslyn Hay; Great Wyrley and Brereton libraries, I am slowly familiarising myself with the geography.

Since June 2016 three of these libraries have transitioned to being managed by South Staffordshire and Shropshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (SSSFT) and are now being delivered by volunteers. This is something new for Staffordshire libraries and is both challenging and exciting.

I hope that you will follow our progress as more libraries move to Community management, support us by using your local library and maybe even join us a library volunteer as we continue our journey.

Further information is available about library volunteering.



Michelle Jackson

My time with Staffordshire Libraries

I am the Community Support Officer for the Staffordshire Moorlands area. I support volunteers to run their libraries in Blythe Bridge and Werrington Libraries. I also support volunteers in the County Managed libraries at Leek, Biddulph, Uttoxeter and Cheadle. Since starting in January this year things have moved at a hectic pace as both communities were planning to take on the library at similar times. What has impressed me the most is the commitment and dedication shown by both communities – they didn’t want to let go of their libraries and were prepared to take them on!

Fortunately I know a lot about libraries, apart from couple of years in an office I have worked all my life as a Librarian in Leek, Hanley, Newcastle and Burntwood. Truth be told – I was a school librarian at secondary school too.

I am also a school governor at my local first school in Biddulph and this experience as a volunteer has helped me understand what it’s like to be on the other side and to appreciate how daunting it can all seem.

About me

Things are never dull in libraries, working at Hanley taught me that! My first proper job also made me realise I wanted to see the world and the bigger picture before I got too set in my ways and too used to having money. I saved up and took a year off to live and work in Australia. I had a brilliant time and during my travels I decided to knuckle down when I got back and get degree in Information and Library Management. I studied at Manchester Metropolitan University and loved it. My first professional post was as a School Librarian in Ipswich and I have never looked back.

Oh yes, I think I still hold the school record for the hurdles race at Maryhill High School in Kidsgrove, not bad for a 5 foot nothing person. Book lovers can be sporty too!

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