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Suffolk Libraries chief executive to retire

Suffolk Libraries’ chief executive has announced she is planning to retire in 2018.

Alison Wheeler has been CEO at Suffolk Libraries since the library service was transferred from the county council in 2012.

Alison has lived and worked in Suffolk for over 38 years. She qualified as a librarian in 1979 after studying at the University of Wales in Aberystwyth. Since then she’s worked as a children’s librarian, managed branch libraries and eventually became the lead manager for frontline library services in 2001. In 2003 she oversaw the introduction of Sunday opening across all the county’s libraries and the first self-service equipment. Before joining Suffolk Libraries Alison spent four years working in Adult Social Care as the Head of Information and Advice.

Alison has worked at regional and national levels to develop partnerships and profile for public libraries. In the late 1990s she set up and led a regional agency for libraries in the East of England, and in 2009 she led the development and signing of a national agreement between the Department of Health and the public library sector.

Alison will not be standing down until February 2018 and Suffolk Libraries is currently recruiting for a new chief executive.

Alison said: “I’ve worked for nearly 40 years in Suffolk’s public library service and it’s been a privilege and a pleasure to work with all of the staff over the years.

“It’s been an especial honour to lead Suffolk Libraries for the last five years. I will be 60 next February and I have decided to move on to the next chapter of my life, devoting more time to being a family carer.

“I won’t be leaving libraries completely as I will continue to be a Trustee of CILIP (the national library and information organisation) and I will continue as a Trustee of Eastern Angles. I’m sure I will also be an active and supportive library user. In fact, you can rely on it!

“I am very proud of what have all achieved together at Suffolk Libraries, and believe that our library service is better than ever, ready and preparing for another five years of successful and innovative delivery.

“I will continue as CEO until February 2018 when I will hand over to whoever is lucky enough to lead this exceptional organisation with our inspiring staff, our dedicated Board and the brilliant volunteers."

Tony Brown, chair of Suffolk Libraries Board, said: “I’d like to pay tribute to Alison as she has contributed so much to the success of Suffolk Libraries over the past five years and to the county’s library service over many years. Her particular combination of vision, passion, versatility, and resilience will be impossible to replicate.”