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Judging panel chair Philip Wark said:

'The Ad Lib project illustrates clearly the multi-faceted role of libraries within the community, particularly the role of the library as workplace. It also impacts on, and changes dramatically, the lives of the people involved. The judges are agreed that this challenging and inspirational project is deserving of the 1999 Libraries Change Lives Award.'

The Ad Lib project encourages local people with learning disabilities to work in a community library under supervision, acquiring the practical skills of book restoration and repair. The project demonstrates a positive image of people with learning disabilities to library users and staff, as well as promoting libraries as accessible to all sections of society.

The project has just completed its first year, with the teams of trainees finishing a year-long pre-NVQ course in book restoration. There are plans to expand the scheme from the three libraries currently involved to a total of six. At Sheffield's Ruskin Gallery, the groups are restoring the libraries' art collection, with training from the Libraries' conservation experts.

The judges were impressed with the professionalism of the project which adhered to high standards of training and support as well as having effective systems of record-keeping and evaluation.

This national award is organised by The Library Association and sponsored by the Library and Information Show. The winner will receive£4,000 and the runners-up£1,000 each.

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