contact_arrow down_arrow down_arrow2 europe facebook instagram left_arrow left_arrow2 logo_menu markets measurement menu models money play right_arrow right_arrow2 contact_arrow twitter up_arrow up_arrow2 vimeo

Explore York Libraries & Archives

Organisation Summary

Business Sector:Culture

Business Activities:Libraries and Archive, Cultural and Educational Hub

Business Location:York

Chief Executive:Fiona Williams


Employees:100 FTE / 55 Paid and 250 Volunteers

Legal structure:Industrial and Provident Society

Explore York Libraries & Archives

York’s Libraries and Archive service is an Industrial and Provident Society. It is the first of its kind in the country and has responsibility for the City of York’s Archive, 14 libraries, two reading cafés and a mobile library.

In May 2014 the service transferred out of the City of York. Fiona Williams became Chief Executive and a Director of Explore York Libraries and Archives Mutual Ltd – a community benefit society that is one third owned by staff and two thirds owned by the community.

The CEO, working with staff, developed a business plan and negotiated a five year contract with the Council to deliver York’s libraries and archives service.

Using learning from this project, she talks to other authorities about alternative models, especially staff led mutuals, offering support to those on the same journey. Fiona is now excited to learn more about being a social enterprise and the opportunities that could bring to libraries and archives. Fiona is determined to keep all of York’s libraries open, and to further develop and grow the service.

E3M Member

Explore York Libraries & Archives

Name:Fiona Williams

Title :CEO

Fiona has been a Chartered Librarian since 1988, working in local government public libraries in Dorset, Poole and York. In 2004 she led York’s libraries and archives out of the council into a mutual. This was the 100th public service mutual and the first libraries and archives one.

She is passionate about the role of learning in libraries and the power of reading to change lives.

Key roles in her career:
Part of the Organisational Development Team working to create a new culture for Dorset and Poole staff as they merged under local government re-organisation
President of Poole branch of Unison 1996-1998
Institute of Management Diploma in Management from B&P college – top of the class
Development of Inspiring Learning for All – national pilot
Development of Explore as a model to deliver libraries and adult learning together
Client officer for York Museums Trust
Modernised York’s library service
President of the Society of Chief Librarians
Led on developing customer care standards for City of York Council