A CLACKMANNANSHIRE librarian has been announced as winner of the 2022 Bookbug Hero Award, which rewards those who work within Scotland’s universal early years book-gifting programme to make a difference in the lives of children, families and their communities.

Ian Keane, a Bookbug co-ordinator with Clackmannanshire Council, was nominated by colleagues and parents who described the librarian as “a great role model".

Co-ordinated by the national literature and literacy charity the Scottish Book Trust and supported by the Scottish Government, Bookbug gives every child in Scotland free bags of books at various stages of their development.

This programme is bolstered by the Bookbug Sessions, which take place at libraries and community centres across the nation.

Over the past ten years, Keane has helped facilitate the Bookbug Sessions across five different library branches, earning praise for his engagement with children through books and song.

Those who nominated Keane noted how inclusive he made the Bookbug Sessions for wheelchair users, as well as attendees whose first language is not English.

Commenting on his award, Keane said: “I was very surprised to win the Bookbug Hero Award. All I did was keep doing what I always did.

“The idea expressed by the people who nominated me was that somehow during Covid and Covid recovery times, I had offered an anchor that helped bring a bit of stability to the week and bit of joy. I think that is wrong. The truth is they offered me an anchor – a light to cling to in darker times. I'll forever be grateful to the attendees for recalling me to life.”

Scottish Book Trust CEO Marc Lambert said: “Libraries continue to be essential to local communities, and without librarians like Ian and his colleagues, many of our programmes would be unable to exist.

"We would like to thank Ian for 10 years of wonderful work and for creating a fun and welcoming environment with his Bookbug Sessions.”

Alma Wardrope, another librarian at Clackmannanshire Council, said of Keane: “Ian's sense of dedication and commitment to Bookbug is exemplary. He strives hard throughout the year to ensure the programme goes ahead without breaks at any point.

"During the pandemic lockdown, he held online sessions and he was creative in ways to make that interesting and stimulating for those attending. Ian is really encouraging and very passionate about his role. We love Bookbug because of him!”

Keane added: “I think without Bookbug we have all been a lot poorer. The nomination and the award show that simply by doing the work we always did, by bringing structure and happiness into families' lives, that this deeply affects people.

"I think Bookbug is a panacea for our times. Ten years into this project we fell into a trap. We convinced ourselves that it was normal but actually the work we all do is extraordinary.

“When things are sunny you don't necessarily see the light we generate in people’s lives. It's when things are dark that we shine. In my eyes you are all Bookbug Heroes.”