A librarian has been recognised for his services in the Queen's birthday honours.

During his 42-year career, Andrew Bignell has led a number of initiatives in libraries across the Hertfordshire.

Now he has been awarded a British Empire Medal - an honour which Mr Bignell has described as "unexpected".

He said: "I’m extremely proud and quite humbled that my efforts have been recognised by the award. I passionately believe in the power of public libraries to enrich and improve people’s lives. I have always done my best to deliver high quality services in any job I have had, but I have never thought of myself as the medal-winning type.

"I’m rather overwhelmed to be recognised in this way – it really is unexpected."

Mr Bignell joined Hertfordshire County Council in 1989 as the deputy librarian at Watford Library. In 2011, he took on the role of head of libraries and heritage services.

Under his leadership, Hertfordshire libraries were one of the first in the country to have self-service and Wi-Fi across all sites. He has brought in new ideas like Creatorspaces and developed eLibrary services, as well as modernising library buildings across the county.

He has most recently led the county council’s inspiring libraries strategy, which has seen libraries radically change and develop in the last few years, making significant savings while challenging the media cliché of public libraries as a service in decline.

Hertfordshire County Council’s cabinet member for libraries, Cllr Terry Douris, said: “Andrew is hugely respected by library and heritage services staff, the senior officers in HCC and the elected members. Andrew is also well known and respected across our neighbouring library services, not just those in Hertfordshire.

“His authenticity, integrity and commitment have shone through his leadership. He is a champion of the public library ethos within the profession.”

West Watford county councillor Nigel Bell added: "As Watford Central library is recognised as good in so many areas it’s good to see Andrew Bignell who started in Watford in 1989 recognised."