Melanie Huggins is the executive director of Richland Library in Columbia, SC, which received the 2017 National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the nation’s highest honor.
Guided by the “Library as Studio” approach, Melanie’s team is currently leading renovations and expansions funded by a successful 2013 bond referendum. The twelve renovations and new building projects include a joint-use, project based learning high school paired with a 30,000 SF library branch and the renovation of 240,000 SF of library space at the Main Library that includes artists’ studios, a theatre, film and media production labs and a maker space. Melanie was named a 2018 Woman of Distinction by the Girl Scouts of South Carolina – Mountains to Midlands for her lasting impact in the community. She was recently named the recipient of the Stephen G. Morrison Visionary Award which honors the best combination of vision and leadership, applied to arts and history and the entire cultural foundation of the City of Columbia. Her work is influenced by her belief that libraries are uniquely positioned to make communities more livable, resilient and inclusive. Melanie served as Director-at-Large for the Public Library Association from 2014-2017 as well as the Urban Libraries Council Executive Board from 2010-2016. She was named the 2012 South Carolina Outstanding Librarian by the South Carolina Library Association. She is a South Carolina Liberty Fellow, member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network, and a member of the Spring 2018 class of the Riley Diversity Leaders Institute. Most importantly she is the harried, forgetful mom to Adeline, Lila and Shepard and concert-going buddy to her super-smart husband, J.C.
Ilona Kisk – Programme Director, Public Libraries 2030 , Reading and Writing Foundation of the Netherlands
Ilona Kish is a library avenger. As Director of the Public Libraries 2030 (PL2030) project team in Brussels, she leads a network of pioneering librarians from across Europe who are dedicated to the transformation of society through community engagement. PL2030 works to raise awareness of the immense potential of Europe’s 65,000 public libraries among EU policy makers; PL2030 works towards building stronger EU communities. Ilona is a proud trustee of the UK Society of Chief Librarians and is currently serving on the Governing board for the Coalition for Digital Jobs and Skills hosted by the European Commission. As the former Secretary General of Culture Action Europe (an association promoting European arts and cultural associations), Ilona has extensive experience in European Arts actions, EU advocacy and campaigning, as well as a thorough working knowledge of both the operational and political functions of the EU institutions.
Leo Appleton – PhD student, Centre for Social Informatics.
Leo Appleton is in the final stages of a PhD in the Centre for Social Informatics at Edinburgh Napier University. He has been conducting a longitudinal study into the value and impact of UK public libraries. When not involved in research Leo is the Director of Library Services at Goldsmiths, University of London, where he has strategic and operational responsibility for all library, collections, research support and academic support provision. He has held a number of senior leadership roles at several university libraries and his professional interests are in performance measurement of library services and library space design and planning.
Jesper Klein – Project Manager, National Library of Sweden.
Almost two decades of experience as a leader in digital reading, inclusion and development of online library services, I have a big passion for topics like digital transformation of reading and publishing, universal design, inclusion and library service design. Currently I am at the National library of Sweden assessing the preconditions to build a digital public library service for Sweden. Looking for lots of opportunities for international exchange of ideas with other pros in the field.
Henrik Jochumsen – Associated Professor at the Department of Information Studies, University of Copenhagen.
Henrik Jochumsen is associated professor at the Department of Information Studies, University of Copenhagen. He has written several books and articles on the public library. As a cultural sociologist, he is interested in how the library is influenced by the development of society in general and vice versa. In his research, he has special focus on library spaces, partnerships between the library and the surrounding community and development of new competencies among librarians. Within the last two years, he has been engaged in the European research-project: ALMPUB – Archives, Libraries and Museums as Public Sphere Institutions. Henrik Jochumsen does also participate as a consultant in connection with library-projects and new library buildings. He has been giving numerous lectures on the public library and its role in urban development.
Gemma Williams – Library Manager, HMP Norwich
Gemma Williams has been the library manager at HMP Norwich for just over six years. A former Mental Health Nurse with a special interest in supporting older people, Gemma is a passionate advocate of the rights of people living with dementia and a member of Norfolk County Council’s Dementia Friendly Library Group.