Announcing ASCEL's new CEO

Tuesday, 23 January, 2024

We are delighted to announce Tabitha Witherick as the new CEO of ASCEL. 

Tabitha will bring visionary leadership, a wealth of library services experience and the ability to use the power of stories to elevate the role and impact of ASCEL. Her passion and energy to drive our strategic plans forward heralds an exciting new chapter for ASCEL, as we move forward with our ambitious plans for growth, going into our second year as an Arts Council England Investment Principles Support Organisation.

Currently Regional Development Manager at Libraries Connected - the national network for Librarians across the UK - Tabitha will join ASCEL at the end of March 2024. It’s an exciting time for the charity as we evolve and enhance our member services, peer support opportunities, training and resources.  

Tabitha is an experienced charity executive and chartered librarian, formerly Head of Library Service and Customer Experience at Libraries Unlimited. She has a breadth of experience in leadership and a track record of delivering development projects and programmes, such as the acclaimed The Glass Box co-produced with young people, combining a passion for digital, creativity and experimentation. 

Tabitha Witherick says:

"It is a dream come true to be appointed as ASCEL's Chief Executive.

ASCEL’s mission, values and strategic ambitions very much align with my own; I’m driven by the difference libraries make to children and young people and I’m ambitious about ensuring libraries are truly inclusive.

I’m excited to bring my experience of working with library services, local government and charities to benefit ASCEL and the library sector.

I have huge respect for ASCEL’s achievements to date and I feel honoured to have this opportunity to work with the team, members and trustees to elevate the voices of young people and to take the charity into the exciting next phase of development.”

Annabel Gittins, Chair of ASCEL says:

 “We are delighted to have Tabitha joining ASCEL as the new CEO. She stood out in a very strong field of candidates. The ASCEL Board are looking forward to seeing her lead the organisation into its second year as an Investment Principles Support Organisation and developing the programme of work with the excellent executive team. A key part of this will be reviewing the Member’s offer and developing the Children’s Promise Alliance, thus ensuring that ASCEL is in an ideal position to grasp future opportunities.”

Isobel Hunter, CEO of Libraries Connected says:

“Tabitha has made a huge impact at Libraries Connected - her strategic expertise and experience have been invaluable in the set-up phase of our regional development project. While we’re sad to see her go, we’re delighted that ASCEL will now benefit from her passion, drive and deep knowledge of the libraries sector. It’s so important that children’s and school libraries have a dedicated organisation representing them and we’re excited to see ASCEL grow under Tabitha’s leadership.”

Tabitha Witherick has spent her career developing inclusive future facing library services.

For the last six months Tabitha has been working at Libraries Connected, initiating the Regional Development programme, building collaboration across the national member network.

She is an experienced charity executive and chartered librarian, formerly Head of Library Service and Customer Experience at Libraries Unlimited, where she led commissioned library services across Devon and Torbay, the cultural programme funded by Arts Council (NPO), and Business & IP Centres, a partnership with the British Library. 

During her time at Somerset Libraries, Tabitha gained recognition for the development of The Glass Box, an ambitious and highly experimental digital skills project co-produced with young people. Tabitha is passionate about inclusion and believes that the voices of children and young people are essential in unlocking the full potential of libraries embedded within communities. 
During 2023 Tabitha became a Clore Social Fellow after completing the Experienced Leader programme. As a Trustee at a secondary Single Academy Trust she sits on the Finance, Audit and Risk and Governance and Nominations committees, and is the link trustee for GDPR, cybersecurity and parent communications.

Tabitha uses the pronouns she/her.