Hello from our new Chief Executive Tabitha Witherick

Thursday, 28 March, 2024

ASCEL is delighted to welcome our new Chief Executive Tabitha Witherick.

With 20 years’ experience leading libraries in local government and charities, her energy and expertise are set to help us grow and develop further as an Arts Council Investment Principles Support Organisation.

Tabitha says:

“I am thrilled to be joining ASCEL as Chief Executive. Leading this amazing charity, which focuses on the library offer for children and young people, at this exciting time in its development feels like the place for me to be. 
It’s a tough time for library leaders right now - there are significant financial challenges for local government at a time of exceptional societal need when we know children and young people benefit deeply from the services available at their local library. 
I’m driven by the difference libraries make to children and young people and I’m ambitious about extending our reach to ensure libraries are truly inclusive. I have huge respect for ASCEL’s achievements and feel lucky to be able to work with Members, Trustees, and young people to take the charity to the next phase of development.  

My initial focus will be building on the foundations that have been laid by colleagues before me - delivering a relevant member offer, engaging children and young people in all corners of the country, growing partnerships and developing the organisation to ensure we fulfil our ambitions. 

I will look further ahead with the Board of Trustees to vision our future, taking a longer-term view of our aspirations and securing opportunities for growth.

I’ll focus on developing strong links across the sector, starting with the opportunities arising from Baroness Sanderson’s recent independent review of English public libraries, which recommends universal membership for children. 

I will emphasise ASCELs unique position – our commitment to elevate young diverse voices as the charity that represents the expertise and experience of children and young people’s specialists across libraries – the power of public and school libraries combined.  

We will be constantly lifting up the voices of children and young people, to ensure they are centred in the future development of library services.  


ASCEL Chair Annabel Gittins says: 

"We are very excited to welcome Tabitha. She is joining a very cohesive Executive team who have achieved much in their first year, and I am sure her energy and ambition will ensure that ASCEL thrives and grows as an organisation.

We are also lucky to have had Sarah Mears expertly guide us through these last 4 months of transition and would like to thank her and Libraries Connected for their continued support."