Senior Library Assistant wins prize at the 27th Annual Lakeland Book of the Year Awards

Jane Renouf, a Senior Library Assistant for Cumbria County Council has received an award in this year’s Lakeland Book of the Year Awards for her latest collaboration.

‘Voices of the Lake District’ written by Jane and Dr Rob David is a culmination of 35 years of work by members of the Ambleside Oral History Group, for which Jane is also the chair person. The group was founded in 1976 at Ambleside Library by Librarian at the time Cynthia Thompson and Jane herself.

Originally with the most basic of recording equipment, members began to interview local people on every aspect of their rural lives. The archive now contains over 400 interviews and has been described as one of the most detailed records of a small rural community anywhere in Britain. The collection throughout the years has steadily grown from containing early recordings on reel -to-reel cassettes, to now housing the most up-to-date digital recordings. All transcripts and original recordings are still housed at Ambleside Library with copies available at the Cumbria Archives Service in Kendal. The transcripts are also fully searchable online at

Dr Rob David, Jane’s co-author commented “Our inspiration has been the spirit of the Cumbrian people themselves”.

Jane and Rob were presented with the Bill Rollinson Award for Landscape and Tradition at a luncheon held at Armathwaite Hall on 5 July. Jane said “The success of ‘Voices of the Lake District’ is not really our success at all – it belongs to the Cumbrian communities who so patiently shared their lives with us and entrusted us with their precious memories”.

The awards receive roughly 60 entries each year and are open to both established and first time authors with six categories available.

Prolific biographer and part-time resident of the Lake District Hunter Davies who is chairman of the judging panel said “The competition this year was fiercer than ever, with a large number of well written and interesting books across a broad spectrum of subject matter”.
In total this is third award Jane has received from the panel, the first was for ‘Painter of Landscape’, a biography of Alfred Heaton Cooper, and in 2005 she won the Hunter Davies Lakeland Book of The Year for ‘The Lake Artists Society – A Centenary Celebration’.

When asked about her love of writing and working at both Ambleside and Windermere Libraries Jane said “As a writer, working for the Library service is the perfect place to be”. She added “Writers can live quite isolated lives – however, my Library job not only gives me the enjoyment of working with the public and promoting reading, but also introduces me to books, ideas and people I would never otherwise have encountered if I was sitting at home writing all day.

All of the staff and patrons at both libraries are extremely proud of Jane’s achievements.