Peter Gaw Biography

Biography of Peter Gaw, CEO Inspire

Peter Gaw, Inspire CEO

Peter started his library career as a Saturday assistant in 1981 in the inner-city Handsworth area of Birmingham where he was born. His motivation was purely the desire to gain some regular income whilst doing A levels. He was quickly struck by the uniqueness of what a public library is in bringing people from all backgrounds into a free and neutral place where they can be inspired. Peter decided to study Librarianship and Information studies at the then Birmingham Polytechnic. A four-year sandwich course provided Peter with a year working at the corporate HQ of GKN plc in its business development and patents library. Following graduation, he was appointed by the Birmingham Chamber of Industry and Commerce to the post of Senior Information Officer at the European Business Centre.


After 2 years there, Peter decided his real passion was to work in public libraries. He applied for a post as an Information specialist at Gwent County Council. The service was going through a rapid period of improvement and development which Peter really enjoyed and learnt a lot about managing change and expanding expectations of what a good library service could be. Gwent was reorganised in 1996 and Peter transferred to the newly created Monmouthshire County Council. Setting up a new service and operating within the corporate structures provided a whole new range of experience s from application of public access ICT opening new libraries and working with councillors.


In 2000 Peter moved to become Principal Librarian: Information services for Gloucestershire County Council where he led the implementation of the lottery funded People’s Network rollout. A short corporate secondment reviewing corporate communications and information followed, later becoming embroiled in the then Corporate Performance Assessment (CPA) undertaken by central government. Gloucestershire provided a key development opportunity through the Ideas modern managers programme, which led to a move to become Head of Libraries and Lifelong Learning for Swansea Council.


Swansea libraries had gone through a ‘best value’ review resulting in the service being evaluated as a 1-star (lowest) service unlikely to improve. Peter relished this challenge and with the creation of an excellent leadership team went about turning the service around. By 2007 performance had massively improved, the service built its first new library since the 1980s, several libraries had been refurbished and the council funded a replacement central library. Peter also took responsibility for museums, art gallery, archives, theatre and arts in his last 2 years in Swansea.


In 2007 Peter was appointed as Head of Libraries, Archives and Information at Nottinghamshire County Council. Peter has led the service through a period of significant change adopting a programme led approach to development, and in 2016 as CEO leading the transition to UK’s largest library mutual, Inspire.


Peter is Chair of the East Midlands region of Libraries Connected, EMLIBS and LIEM Peter also sits on the board of Inspire in his role as CEO.


Peter is married to Hilary, has four children, two grandsons and one dog.