Thursday, 6 December 2012

Carnegie Longlist, one month in.

The long list was announced on the 5th November, see my post for the whole list as well as which I had already read.  As I did last year, I'd like to read all of them before the shortlist is announced, so here's an update on my progress...I've not only been reading Carnegie books but I only mention those listed here (check my mini-reviews on Twitter or find me on Goodreads to see what else I've read).  They've all been good but not amazing:

The No.1 Car Spotter and the Firebird by Atinuke - really nice but not enough for Carnegie
Jasmine Skies by Sita Brahmachari - found the story dull but enjoyed the descriptions of India
Dead Time by Anne Cassidy - pretty good but tried to fit too much in
A Greyhound of a Girl by Roddy Doyle - lovely tale but not quite Carnegie worthy
The Things We Did For Love by Natasha Farrant - very moving story of life in occupied France, again just not quite literary enough
Hero on a Bicycle by Shirley Hughes - can see this being made into a film, a really good book that could well end up on the official short just won't be on mine!
Hitler's Angel by William Osborne - too predictable but with some excellent moments
Goblins by Philip Reeve - very funny
The Sleeping Army by Francesca Simon - didn't grip me but isn't terrible

Except for one that that is so brilliant that it has to replace one of my initial personal shortlist:
VIII by H.M. Castor
I'm not sure it is a winner though, and I won't tell you which it replaced - you'll have to wait until March for my final list!
Is it just the ones I happen to have picked up so far, or are there are heck of a lot of war books on the list?  I really need to read something to cheer me up but have nothing with a happy blurb on my TBR pile!

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

#cpd23 fail!

Avid readers (all one of you) may have noticed that my CPD23 posts ended at Thing 16 quite some time ago.  We have until November 30th to finish and get a certificate and I keep thinking I really must do it, but I'm sitting here procrastinating, avoiding doing actual essential YLG things, and have realised it aint gonna happen.  If they re-run it next year I will make a concerted effort to finish the final leg!

Monday, 5 November 2012

The Carnegie 2013 Longlist!

Wow, a list of nearly 70 books this time!  Don’t forget, each of these books is long-listed purely because at least one librarian in the UK liked it, it just has to have been released in the UK between 1st September 2011 (a long time ago now!) and 31st August 2012 and they will not all meet the judging criteria even if they are entertaining reads.  As I did last year, I intend to read the whole longlist before the short list is announced on 19th March 2013.  There were only 52 last year and I had read 22 before the list was announced.  This year I’ve read 25 so far, and actually haven’t heard of a few of the longlist so I look forward to finding out about them!  Man alive, I’ve got a lot of reading to do…

Goldilocks on CCTV by John Agard (Frances Lincoln Children's Books)
The True Tale of the Monster Billy Dean by David Almond (Puffin Books)
Soldier Dog by Sam Angus (Macmillan Children's Books)
The No. 1 Car Spotter and the Firebird by Atinuke (Walker Books)
The Traitors by Tom Becker (Scholastic)
The Terrible Thing That Happened to Barnaby Brocket by John Boyne (Doubleday Children's Books)
Jasmine Skies by Sita Brahmachari (Macmillan Children's Books)
Spy For The Queen of Scots by Theresa Breslin (Doubleday Children's Books)
Naked by Kevin Brooks (Puffin Books)
Kill All Enemies by Melvin Burgess (Puffin Books)
Dead Time by Anne Cassidy (Bloomsbury)
VIII by H.M. Castor (Templar Publishing)
Dying To Know You by Aidan Chambers (Bodley Head)
The Broken Road by B.R. Collins (Bloomsbury)
The Unforgotten Coat by Frank Cottrell Boyce (Walker Books)
15 Days Without a Head by Dave Cousins (Oxford University Press)After the Snow by S.D. Crockett (Macmillan Children's Books)
The Weight of Water by Sarah Crossan (Bloomsbury)
Scramasax by Kevin Crossley-Holland (Quercus Publishing)
Mortal Chaos by Matt Dickinson (Oxford University Press)
Sektion 20 by Paul Dowswell (Bloomsbury)
A Greyhound of a Girl by Roddy Doyle (Marion Lloyd Books)
Saving Daisy by Phil Earle (Puffin Books)
Buzzing! by Anneliese Emmans Dean (Brambleby Books)
The Things We Did For Love by Natasha Farrant (Faber and Faber)
Trouble in Toadpool by Anne Fine (Doubleday Children's Books)
Call Down Thunder by Daniel Finn (Macmillan Children's Books)
Far Rockaway by Charlie Fletcher (Hodder Children's Books)
The Double Shadow by Sally Gardner (Indigo)
Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner (Hot Key Books)
After by Morris Gleitzman (Puffin Books)
To Be A Cat by Matt Haig (Bodley Head)
A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge (Macmillan Children's Books)
Unrest by Michelle Harrison (Simon & Schuster Children's Books)
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman (Doubleday Children's Books)
The Seeing by Diana Hendry (Bodley Head)
Daylight Saving by Edward Hogan (Walker Books)
Hero on a Bicycle by Shirley Hughes (Walker Books)
The Abominables by Eva Ibbotson (Marion Lloyd Books)
The Girl in the Mask by Marie-Louise Jensen (Oxford University Press)
The Prince Who Walked With Lions by Elizabeth Laird (Macmillan Children's Books)
In Darkness by Nick Lake (Bloomsbury)
The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan (David Fickling Books)
Skulduggery Pleasant: Death Bringer by Derek Landy (HarperCollins Children's Books)
Itch by Simon Mayo (Corgi Children's Books)
At Yellow Lake by Jane McLoughlin (Frances Lincoln Children's Books)
The Apothecary by Maile Meloy (Andersen Press)
The Treasure House by Linda Newbery (Orion Children's Books)
All Fall Down by Sally Nicholls (Marion Lloyd Books)
This Dark Endeavour by Kenneth Oppel (Random House David Fickling Books)
Hitler's Angels by William Osborne (Chicken House)
Wonder by R.J. Palacio (Bodley Head)
Gods and Warriors by Michelle Paver (Puffin Books)
Burn Mark by Laura Powell (Bloomsbury)
Black Arts: The Books of Pandemonium by Andrew Prentice and Jonathan Weil (David Fickling Books)
Mister Creecher by Chris Priestley (Bloomsbury)
This is Not Forgiveness by Celia Rees (Bloomsbury)
Goblins by Philip Reeve (Marion Lloyd Books)
Black Heart Blue by Louisa Reid (Puffin Books)
Pendragon Legacy: Sword of Light by Katherine Roberts (Templar Publishing)
Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick (Indigo)
A Boy and a Bear in a Boat by Dave Shelton (David Fickling Books)
The Sleeping Army by Francesca Simon (Profile Books)
The Flask by Nicky Singer (HarperCollins Children's Books)
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater (Scholastic)
A Skull in Shadows Lane by Robert Swindells (Corgi Children's Books)
A Waste of Good Paper by Sean Taylor (Frances Lincoln Children's Books)
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (Electric Monkey)

Of the ones I have read so far I haven’t disliked any, but some are definitely better than others.  Very disappointed to see that Heart Shaped Bruise by Tanya Byrne wasn't eligible because it was published for adults before on a YA list (keep that in mind publishers).  Considering the judging criteria, and the fact that the shortlist is only 6-8 books, the red ones are my shortlist so far…I can't predict a winner with as much confidence as I did last top 8 will change as I read more!

Monday, 1 October 2012

Our Dress Up Day!

I wrote about Literacy Week Day 5 on Saturday but had left my camera at school.  Here are some of the promised pictures, selected so as to not ruin any reputations...

Batgirl forgot to change into
her day-wear!
This needs no caption...
He kept the mask on all day! 
House Coloured Oompa Loompas
Batman popped in to help
Some of my lovely staff!

Sue picked our winner, my favourite,
but never fear, Batgirl caught him later...
Arch enemies meet in the library!

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Literacy Week Day 5

The grand finale of literacy week was a character dress up day to raise money for Pelican Post ...or it will be for them if I can get in touch with them!  Some people made a brilliant effort, but of course I stupidly left the camera at school and so can't show you any until Monday!  Multicoloured Oompa Loompas popping up everywhere, Tinkerbell telling her story at break in the playground, Batgirl and Batman dishing out justice across the school, French classes writing about the characters they were dressed as (in French, obv), Winnie the Pooh was spotted hard at work, and three  life size Wallys turned up!  Kids were finding them as well as the original Wally, who is now relaxing on my sofa after a good week trekking around the school

Our final guest was Sue Ransom, author of the Small Blue Thing trilogy.
She came to talk to our remaining Year 9s, about writing, being published, and inspirations.  Even boys that can't sit still in a normal lesson asked questions and were interested in the answers.  After school was pretty hectic as we had the favourite costumes from each House, as well as lots of staff in their amazing outfits, in the library so that Sue could pick the fave...I'm not going to tell you who the character was because I want to share a picture with you on Monday...and then as it settled down in there a few stayed to have a chat with her about writing.

Overall I think we can say the week was a success!  Loyalty cards are being waved in the library, pupils that rarely come in have been begging me to borrow books by our guests, one of the year 10 boys that really struggles with reading is going to read Soul Beach with me a few chapters a day because he was so intrigued by the sound of it, some others (including a member of staff!) have been inspired to write their own stories, finished copies of the poems written with Neal Zetter on Monday are appearing on my desk, everyone is going to really miss the literary lunches (not that I had time to eat any of them...) and teachers have really enjoyed adding literacy activities to their normal lessons.  On Monday I shall draw a raffle for all the pupils that took part in the mini-challenges for a range of signed books, sweets and other literary related goodies that I've been squirrelling away.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Literacy Week Day 4

Take a look at days 1, 2 & 3 (I can't be bothered linking to them again, they're easy to find!) for what's been happening so far.

Again, little library things, literacy starter activities, story time around the school at break, and then today's wonderful guest Kate Harrison, the author of numerous grown up books who has recently added Young Adult fiction to her repertoire with the first two books of the Soul Beach trilogy out now...
She spent half of lunch break chatting with one of my pupil assistants at the desk about what he's reading, and then talked to a group of Year 10s about social networking and the inspiration of tribute sites to her books, as well as her experience of undercover work for the BBC (I heard a boy whispering at that point "she was a spy!").  She had a really tough group of kids - a lot of them were boys that I rarely see in the library - but they sat in awe and asked some great questions, giving a lovely round of applause at the end.  After school, as James and Moira did, she stayed in the library chatting with a small group of my regulars and they really enjoyed the chance for a more intimate conversation.  AND I remembered to take a picture and bring it home, hooray!
After I waved goodbye to Kate I had to get the library ready for our literacy evening.  HoI organised it and invited parents to listen to me, her, 2nd in Inclusion and an English teacher talk about reading/writing/speaking and listening.  We had 16 come, which for our school is pretty amazing, and they were really engaged with the activities we came up with.  I talked about Accelerated Reader, reading for pleasure, and how to find things in a library (we played Dewey Bingo).

I can't believe tomorrow is the last day of literacy week!  Our last author!  Wally finding his last hiding place!  Last chance for teachers to tell kids about the books that inspired them!  And it is a dress up day!  Soooo excited, and teachers have been really excited about planning their costumes and pupils have been talking about it all week...I've told them that if they want to come in jeans and a t-shirt that is fine but they have to tell me a character from a book or film that wears jeans and a tomorrow, though we're going to the pub after school so you might have to wait until Saturday to find out how it goes, ha!


Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Literacy Week Day 3

Have a look at Day 1 and Day 2 before you read this...
Day 3 of Literacy week, yaaay!  I had a complaint this morning from one of the teachers...having read my blog, he told me off for saying teachers are only going along with the week because HoI is telling them to.  He said they're doing it because everything we've suggested is fun!  So I apologise, I know it is true, we've got a great staff team and there is always a good proportion of them that will volunteer for anything I ask them to is the case though that it has been quicker and easier to get things approved - I or HoI (or our 2nd in Inclusion, who has also helped with a lot of the preparation) have an idea, we like it, so HoI says she'll tell the Head we're doing it!  If I'd planned it alone I think it would be far more low key, for example I wouldn't dream of suggesting having an author a day and taking over that many lessons in close succession.

So we had the usual little challenges, teachers telling pupils about books that inspired them, Wally was hiding somewhere else and there was a special French story time at break and lunch in the library as it was European Day of Languages today.  Then after lunch our special guest was the wonderful Moira Young, coming to see some familiar faces as she visited us back in March to promote Blood Red Road.  The sequel came out in August, Rebel Heart, while I was warming the kids up (Moira got stuck in traffic on the way in) they laughed at me for being far too excited...but in a nice way, I think...
It felt a much more personal affair this time, talking about what inspired the landscapes in her books, and then after school a small group stayed behind to ask more questions - including a year 11 boy who had not borrowed a single book from the library until he met Moira in March and read her book and now reads a couple of books a week - and I took some pictures that I could have included here but I left the camera at school <sigh>

One of the brilliant ideas HoI had was getting our Canteen Manager in to her office to discuss a literary menu for the week.  Between the three of us we came up with some [slightly tenuous] links to meals that our kids would actually agree to eat! I made up some sheets of stickers with a picture of Oliver Jeffers's Book Eating Boy and each time a pupil chose the 'Literary Lunch' for the day they gave them a sticker to show me to swap for raffle tickets and House Points.

What more could I possibly have to share with you tomorrow?...

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Literacy Week Day 2

Check out my post about day 1 here.

So the rest of this week will be less frantic for me as my mini-Where's Wally wasn't hiding in the library, the lovely ladies at reception were looking after him today and he'll be somewhere else tomorrow, and we only have visitors in the afternoon.  Saying that, I have a lot to catch up on that I've ignored while planning this week, and I do have to stay late on Thursday to talk at a parents' literacy evening, then Friday I'll be running around taking pictures of costumes...but today...

Before school and at break I had pupils doing my wordsearches/code breakers for the day (different mini-challenges every day) as well as the usual stuff.  I had a pretty stressful break because a Head of House has hidden golden tickets around the school and the kids are pestering me to find out where they are (I don't know, honest, but they won't believe me and so get stroppy!) but it was nice to see a few loyalty cards being stamped at the desk as books were borrowed and lots came and thanked me for the books.  One of the teachers came in to tell me that his group were opening the goody bags yesterday they were really excited and thought the books were awesome!  There was a lovely peaceful corner during break where one of our English teachers was reading a Carribean tale to an engrossed cross section of pupils.  I have three teachers reading stories at break each day this week, one in the library and the other two elsewhere in the school, and they're getting pretty good crowds from all year groups!
Our star guest for the day today was the lovely James Dawson, author of Hollow Pike.  I stupidly didn't take any pictures of him without my pupils in so can't share them on here...I shall remember to do better the rest of this week!  They loved him!  He came into the library during lunch break and a few of my regulars got a bit star struck, most of them would just look at him from a distance...then he held a crowd of 60 rowdy year 10s in the palm of his hand for an hour.  I'd warned him they take a while to settle down but they're generally not awful, but I was so impressed by how taken they were with him - when he read a few pages of Hollow Pike you could hear a pin drop and they asked some great questions.  The round of applause he got at the end sounded like it was 600 pupils not 60!  A few of them, along with some pupils that hadn't been in that lesson, came to the library after school to talk to him a bit more and he was brilliant with them.

We also had support from the lovely Tales on Moon Lane for a small book shop in the library after school, selling James's book along with a nice current selection of fiction, including, of course, those by the coming authors.  They've left me the books so that I can sell them at the other events during the week, even trusted me with their cash locked away in a safe place and hovering in a paranoid corner of my mind for the rest of the week!

Tune in tomorrow for more exciting literacy happenings!  I'll have a bit more time so I might show you my literary menus

Monday, 24 September 2012

Literacy Week Day 1

The idea of having a week of literacy related activities in September was suggested by our Head of Inclusion (HoI), who became my line manager as of this term, in June and we started planning immediately.  Initially, she wanted every child to get a goody bag with stationery in it, maybe an author visit, and for departments to have a literacy focus in lessons that week...I think what we came up with is bigger than either of us anticipated on our minuscule budget!  Firstly, at the end of term I set a competition to design a logo for literacy week.  The picture below was drawn by one of our (now) year 10 girls.  This is on all the posters around the school and was stuck onto each of the goody bags.
I sent an email to a few of my contacts in childrens' publishing, begging for goodies &/or authors that might be available.  As far as guests were concerned, after some very enthusiastic responses I realised we'd be able to have someone every day (more about them later...).  Scholastic did wonders with a huge number of bookmarks, posters, postcards and sample chapters from some brilliant recent books and smaller amounts came from elsewhere.  HoI asked if I could get a book for every pupil, again Scholastic saved me with their online warehouse sale at the end of last term, and I went to Makro and bought a huge pile of sweets.  I also had a bunch of loyalty cards made for the library, I was so excited when they arrived, and we put a newspaper (at the last minute this morning) and small leaflet about punctuation and grammar in there as well as a bunch of stationery.  It took about 5 hours last week to pack 350 bags, the only time I've been relieved by our decreasing roll, they were given out at the end of today by tutors and I had a swapshop in the library for anyone that wanted to change their book.  I had a choice of about 12 titles and had considered literacy levels and interest when I put them in the bags but about 20 pupils came and changed them.
During the day today we had workshops with all of year 8 and one group of year 10 with Neal Zetter, a performance poet who works around London in schools and libraries for a very reasonable rate.  We were writing poems about food and just about every pupil got involved regardless of academic ability.  In fact, the lower ability group seemed to enjoy it most, and produced arguably the best poems, staying engaged and on task the whole time.  Neal did say before he came that 1hour sessions was his absolute minimum length of time, he prefers 90minutes, and that could be part of why the low ability session was a greater success as we stayed together across 2 periods.  I highly recommend getting in touch with Neal if you want to do something a bit different!
The best thing about this literacy week being 'sponsored' by the HoI is that she has the authority to get people to do things ;-) so every member of staff is getting involved somehow.  We have teachers reading stories at three locations every breaktime, literary themed lunches being served (I'll tell you more another day), literacy related starter activities happening in every department as well as a number of them organising their own competiitons...
There is so much more happening, I'll share later in the week!

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Top Ten Tuesday - Bookish Confessions

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme started by The Broke and Bookish that I love but rarely contribute to.  This week's theme caught me though as it isn't just another list of books, but is a lot more personal!

So my bookish confessions:
1. I get bored reading grownup books and worry that it is because, having read so many children's and YA books, I've lost all stamina!  Nothing to do with the quality of the writing, but books for teens generally have a much faster pace, with less scene setting and more interest.
2. Even though I've always worked in libraries I quite often have overdue books!
3. I get sent so many books, and pick so many up at conferences, that I will never have time to read them all :-(
4. I always go to see the film version of a book I love even if I know it will only disappoint or anger me, and I avoid seeing films if I know they're based on a book I haven't read (even if I know I'll never find time to read the book!).
5. I don't buy many books, I'll read a library copy and only buy it if I'm getting a signed copy and/or particularly love it, but will always pre-order Terry Pratchett.
6. I prioritise library books on my tbr shelf because I know they need to be returned, so if I own a copy of something sometimes I'll borrow another from the library just so I can justify bumping it up the pile!
7. The folding down of pages, or when kids fold a book in half to read it, pains me...I suffer a lot at school!  But that is why I have a wedge of bookmarks next to the checkout for them, grr.
8. I don't like lending people my own books and sometimes I don't even want to take them out of the house myself in case they get damaged in my bag.
9. I feel guilty reading something that I've picked up just because I fancy it - I should be reading new releases because it is hard enough to keep up - and I never make time to re-read anything
10. I have a list of first editions that will be the first thing I hunt for if we win the lottery.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

#cpd23 Thing 16

Thing 16: Advocacy, speaking up for the profession and getting published

Advocacy is hugely important, now more than ever before.  It is about making sure as many people as possible, within and outside of the profession, are aware of important events and given an opportunity for involvement.  In a sense it is something I do every day at school - it isn't only about attracting a new audience but about engaging with your existing one - something that sometimes librarians need to be reminded of so as to not alienate people that already support them.

Public libraries have come more into the limelight thanks to regional and national campaigns against all the cuts and closures happening lately, taken on brilliantly by Voices for the Library and others.  In February was a highlight of this: a week of events, including the friday dedicated to school libraries (see my post), leading to National LoveLibraries Day on Saturday 4th.  ASCEL, The SLA and CILIP wanted to bring school libraries to the attention of the public and the media as well with the SHOUTABOUT school libraries/sls campaign that I've supported by using the hashtag for school related tweets.  I'm supporting the Mass Lobby for School Libraries that will happen on 29th October 2012 - I've written to my MP and I will be attending the march on the day.  Attempts have been made by librarians and authors to get school libraries made statutory in English schools, as they are in Scottish schools, but so far have been unsuccessful.  I've not been on a march before, because I feel very uncomfortable with the idea of hooligans joining in just in order to cause trouble, but I think something organised by school librarians should be far more civilised!  It isn't a huge march, just a crowd of people heading to the Houses of Parliament to meet with MPs.  I don't yet know whether my MP would be available but actually I'd almost prefer it if he wasn't because I think I'd forget what I needed to say with the pressure :-/

Activism aside, as far as pure advocacy is concerned I am getting better at it as I gain confidence in my skills and importance - it includes sharing library related information with friends and family, and blogging about libraries but a hugely important use of advocacy is far more low key - keeping my school community aware of me and what I can provide.  Talking in a whole staff assembly was brilliant advocacy.  Creating a termly newsletter for staff and contributing to the parents' newsletter, talking to individual teachers and departments, regularly putting things in the staff bulletin, putting posters all over the school, talking to pupils...all of that is advocacy.  On a wider scale, getting information to people that have no real connection to my world and 'out of the echo chamber', it is much harder to get messages across.  My blog helps, or will as the follower count increases (hopefully), as do the articles I've written for Information Today Europe but of course they'll always be read by people who are already interested in libraries to some extent.  Further afield: I haven't yet tried!

Friday, 17 August 2012

#cpd23 Thing 15

Thing 15: Attending, presenting at and organising seminars, conferences and other events
I really enjoy attending events - author events organised by publicists/bookshops/librarians, skills training organised by CILIP or the SLA, networking events organised by CILIP YLG.
Money: Although a lot of them are a lot of money, especially for training, every month there are free events somewhere. Living in London makes it easier to find them, and being on the YLG London committee means I get invited to some fun things. In 2006 I applied for and got sponsorship by YLG London to attend the annual national conference so that's a good way for new professionals to get to these events if you keep your eye out for such things (although now I'm part of the London committee and know we can't afford to sponsor people any more). This year the joint SLA, SLG and YLG conference was during half term and on the off chance I asked my Headmaster whether the school could pay a contribution. He said as I was going in my own time (I'm term time only) the school would pay it all! I wasn't expecting that at all but if you don't ask you don't get! All companies/schools have funds for cpd for each employee so if you make a good enough argument for something you have a good chance of getting it.
Making the most: I don't think I can put anything better than the conference advice linked to in the #cpd23 blog - I did all these things for the joint conference apart from making time to visit the local area as I thought being away from home alone for the conference was long enough. I have very slowly got better at the networking aspect - finding people I 'knew' from twitter was a good start, as well as the YLG London committee members that came too of course! I've met a few of the publicists a few times now as well so it is nice to catch up with them, but this is only because I take advantage of as many free evening events around London as I am able to get to.
The idea of speaking at an event is slightly terrifiying, I'm fine talking in front of a group of pupils but talking in front of grownups is a completely different kettle of fish. It is definitely worth plucking up the courage though.
What to talk about: One of the things I've put in my PPDP is to do a session at one of the YLG London training days about the regular library lessons I've had with year 7s and how to fit them into any structure. I had a 10minute slot in a whole staff meeting at school last term and rushed through my presentation, a good number of the staff knew beforehand I was nervous, but it was really well received and boosted my confidence in public speaking. The purpose of the slot was to remind teachers of the role of the library in the school, how I can support them and how I need them to help me with promoting reading across the school.  I think it really had an impact.
Applying: As far as those two events are concerned, as part of the committee I can suggest it in a meeting, and at school it was through a line manager. For other organisations though, maybe one day! One of the break out sessions I attended at the last conference made me think 'I could do better than this' so who knows, as my confidence grows it'll be a future as a consultant perhaps ;-)
Presenting: I prefer to work from notes, in fact I have a terrible habit of writing exactly what I want to say and just reading it out, but I try to look up and do it from memory and glance at the script as a safety net.  I don't trust myself to remember everything I need to say, no matter how many times I rehearse it I will panic on the spot, and I'm pretty good at writing in the way I speak so it doesn't sound too much like I'm just reading an essay...hopefully! [After I wrote that I read Bethan's post about using a script - that is exactly what I do]  I did have a powerpoint for the staff meeting, no moving images or clipart, just some key statements and pictures. I reckoned if they're looking at the powerpoint they're not looking at me!   I always use Arial font because it was ingrained in me in public libraries that it is the most legible font so carrying it between operating systems should never be a problem.  I also had them rolling in the aisles with laughter, honestly!  I didn't want it to be serious and boring, I wanted them to pay attention all the way through, so I enjoyed putting my sarcastic self deprecating humour into the presentation.  I like Phil Bradley's closing paragraph to his post about public speaking:

"People won't remember what you said. They won't remember what you taught them. They remember how you made them feel. If you're enthusiastic, keen, interested and having fun, the chances are very high that they will as well"

All through this Thing I've talked about YLG Committee membership - but how else does one get experience in helping organise professional events? Saying that, at school I have organised a number of author events, the library's contribution to open evenings, and a couple of events in the library about reading for pleasure for adults associated with the school (parents/staff/governors). It hasn't been too terrible, as long as you keep on top of things, just make sure everyone that needs to know anything knows it with enough notice, and prepare the scene and props well! I'm sure the larger the event the more stressful the planning but just keep calm and carry on...

#cpd23 Things 13 & 14

Thing 13: Google Docs, Wikis and Dropbox
I have a small amount of experience with Google Docs (Google Drive), having been involved in creating collaborative documents in public libraries, but at the moment I don't really have a use for it.  It is good to be aware of though, and as I have gmail I always have access to it if I need it.
One of the librarians in another school in my borough set up a wiki just for the group of us that attend the borough meetings, to share files and ideas, but we don't really use it very much.  I think school librarians tend to be so good at working alone that they forget that other people might have already done something that would make their life easier.  Things like wikis have made it much easier to support and share with one another so I'll make a concerted effort to use it a bit more next term.  Hopefully if I do then the others will too as there's no point just one person updating these things, otherwise it might as well just be on my own blog.
I looked at Dropbox and thought there's no point trying it out, but then it occured to me if I put my chartership folder in there I can add stuff at school or at home, genius!  So I've set that up on my laptop.  I doubt I'll be able to download it at school but I'll see what it is like going through the website next time I'm there.

Thing 14: Zotero//MendeleyCiteULike
I always quite enjoyed the pedantic nature of referencing when I was doing my BSc and MA and, not wanting to sound like a luddite, want to continue to do them manually with my chartership portfolio.  The only electronic tool I use, other than typing things up obviously, is Word's ability to insert footnotes into the appropriate pages.  I'm not sure it would be worth introducing 6th formers to zotero or mendeley as they don't need dozens of references yet and will forget about these things by the time they reach uni.  CiteULike could be useful to them if their teacher sets up an account and shares useful references with them along with me, but as the blog post says it is similar to delicious which I already point them towards.  I do teach them basic referencing skills and think it is best for them to do them the traditional way, to get a good understanding of their purpose and use, while they've not got pages of references to deal with as they will if they progress with education.

Two slightly uninspired responses from me, but just you wait for Thing 15 - it is turning into an essay!

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

#cpd23 Things 10,11+12

I am so far behind!  I blame everything but myself ;-)

So anyway, Thing 10 - Qualifications and the variety of routes into Librarianship.
As the cpd23 blog says, most people get a first degree in an unrelated subject and then carry on to do a Masters in Library and Information Studies after at least a year's work experience.  This is what I did, in fact when I did my first degree (in geology) I'd forgotten I wanted to be a Librarian!  When I decided I did, I thought I'd want to work in a science/museum library (ideally in the Natural History Museum) but to start myself off I volunteered in a public library during one summer.  Having enjoyed working on the Summer Reading Challenge so much I decided to change my path to public libraries and so applied for a real job in the library that I volunteered in, and a graduate trainee scheme at a neighbouring borough.  I was offered the real job the week before the interview for the trainee scheme and went for that because I liked the library.  In hindsight that may have been a mistake - a graduate trainee scheme would have given me experience in more aspects of the library than being an assistant did and would have helped me get further in public libraries after finishing my Masters.  As it was I had no management experience, just a qualification that seemed to mean nothing to the authorities I applied and I was stuck being an assistant for another 18months.  At that point I got so fed up with having to be a non-specialist - I wanted to be a children's librarian - that I decided to find a school library.  I guess that might not have happened if I had gone down the graduate trainee scheme route so, as my Mum always says, everything happens for a reason.  In the school that finally employed me (I had a lot of "you were great but there was someone with school library experience" type feedback) I started as a 'Library and Information Centre Assistant' - still didn't need my MA but I guess it helped get the job - but am now 'The Librarian', 5 long years after finishing the Masters.  As far as the school is concerned I needn't have bothered getting the MA but I know that a lot of schools do care and I have never regretted spending the time and money on it.
The next step is Chartership.  Now that I've been given a professional job title as well as professional qualifications I feel I'm ready and so have started the process; I wrote my PPDP just last week in fact.  Even if future employers aren't interested, although job ads often do mention it, I want to do it just to prove that I am continuing to develop and I am dedicated to Librarianship.  If I hadn't done a Masters, for time or money's sake, I could have gone down the Certification route to get to the stage at which I could Charter.  I think that probably requires a great deal more stamina and motivation than having the deadlines a Masters provided!
Thing 11 - Mentoring
I have only recently asked someone to be a formal mentor to help me through the Chartership process.  Looking through the lists of available mentors on the CILIP website I was really pleased to see an ex-member of the YLG London Committee for whom I have shed-loads of respect, and even more pleased when she said she'd love to mentor me!  We've had two meetings so far and she's given me some very helpful directions for getting as far as completing the PPDP and what to include in the portfolio.  I wouldn't have had the confidence to start without her.
Informally though, I would say I've had a couple of mentors throughout my career - the Manager of the branch library I worked in before and during my MA was an inspiration and my decision to leave and work elsewhere (even though it was still as an assistant) was partly down to the fact she handed in her notice and I couldn't face working there without her.  More recently, the Federation Librarian for my school (who has now gone back to her other library full time as the Federation ended) has been a great support.  With 40years of school librarianship behind her she was able to give me ideas, about how to manage a budget for example, something I've never had experience of before.  In September I'll be a solo-librarian and I am looking forward to the challenge, but I know I wouldn't be as good a school librarian if I'd started alone and I will keep in touch with her.  As the post says, the mentor and mentee should both get something out of the relationship.  I like to think I've given her some good ideas about how to enthuse teenagers and keep the library busy.
Thing 12 - Putting the social into social media
Haha, this one gives to a chance to use Thing 5, the reflective practice Thing that I put off for later and still haven't done...reflect on how you put the social into your social media use.  I probably err towards the lurker on SLN, but that is because I only comment when I feel I have something to say that is of use or interest!  I get the digest of messages and a large proportion of them are not useful (imho) and on occasion it feels more like a social network than a professional one.  I interact more on Twitter although I do push out/retweet information more often than I respond to it.  I think it is time constraints more than anything else, I often read something and think I should respond to it but by the time I get round to it it feels a bit too late.  I did manage to write a blog post about age banding on books when there was a bit of a furore about it, but again that's me just stating things and not commenting directly on other peoples' posts.  I should get out there a bit more, not only to let commentators know that their things are being read and found interesting, but also to become more widely known myself...I now have confidence that I am worth listening to occasionally, and so when I write something that I think is important it can reach more people.  I do stick to reading about school libraries, schools, public libraries and YA/childrens' publishing.  Not so much because it is the "comfort zone" of my own sector but because it is what I am most interested in, hence choosing this career, and time is money people!  Terribly insular I know but I don't and won't want to work in a legal library or medical library or manuscripts library etc so if I'm short of time then they're the articles I will skip.  I generally read everything in CILIP's Update, does that count?  As part of my CPD for the Chartership I intend to visit a few different types of library so hopefully that will spark an interest.
That will do for now, I'll catch up with 13-16 later!

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Age banding for books - my view

A colleague sent me an email with a link to an article about the G.P. Taylor v Patrick Ness debate and said "you know about these things, what do you think?".  I started writing a response and it turned into a bit of an essay, so she suggested blogging it!
It is a thorny issue as I think parents do need some kind of guidance as to what their children are reading - they might not have time to read it themselves and there might not be an expert on hand to say 'I think your son/daughter is a bit young for that'.  Kids are quite self-censoring though - they'll stop reading a book if they aren't enjoying the storyline and often say that they think a book is not suitable for their younger sibling.  The debate started this time because of the assertion that YA books are becoming 'darker', but Grimms' Tales were pretty dark, and what about Goosebumps and Point Horror from 20 years ago?  Some pretty nasty things happen in Harry Potter Patrick Ness said, in real life children have to deal with bad stuff and so like to read about people experiencing similar or worse events.  Who's to say that a 16 year old is more able to cope with reading about suicide or rape or bereavement than a 14 year old, or even a 12 year old, when any one of them could have experienced suicidal thoughts.  Never mind that they will have watched people coping with these issues on Eastenders anyway!

An awful lot of the manga sold in western countries has age bands - off the top of my head, it is A (all), T (early teen) , T+ (older teen), 16 & 18+ - determined for the American market who are really prudish so I wouldn't mind any of the kids in my library reading most T+.  This is because they're all sold in a similar format and just looking at the cover won't tell you whether there might be some hardcore p*rn or extreme violence in there!  It hasn't made a difference to their popularity, as with age banding for films, so maybe doing the same for full text YA books would not cause a problem.  It might even increase the kudos of an author, to have their book rated as 15+.

I think age banding is unfeasible.  Firstly, who would do it and secondly what would the reasoning be?  Would it be like films and done by committee (there are a lot more books published than films made), or the publishers, or the authors?  Would a book that involves the massacre of demons have the same ranking as one that involves descriptions of the Holocaust?  Would one that deals with the aftermath of a rape have the same rating as one with a gratuitous sex scene?  It is the way that the issues are handled that matters, and that is an issue for marketers/publicists/booksellers/librarians - to ensure that the right messages get through to the right people.  For age banding to work, every book would have to have it - adult as well as YA or childrens'.  Otherwise 15 year olds would be held back from reading something from the adult section of the bookshop 'just in case'.

There would also have to be some way of making it clear that the rating is simply about the suitability of the story rather than the difficulty of the language.  Emotional maturity, reading age, and physical age do not necessarily correlate!  A child could pick up a book deemed to be suitable for their age group and either struggle terribly because it is too difficult for them or be bored because it is too 'easy'.  I can also see a number of teens I know refusing to read something because it has '12' on it but they're 14.  At school we buy in a system called Accelerated Reader that levels books based on language content and provides quizzes for pupils to take to demonstrate that they have understood the book.  These levels correlate to reading ages, and are actually quite useful as long as you bear in mind that they don't make a judgement on the events in the story.  For example, the House of Night series is easier to read than the Harry Potter novels but are for a more mature age group (the opening chapter includes a description of a blowjob).  The only indicator of age-appropriateness is 'LY', 'MY' or 'UY' on their labels - lower, middle or upper year.  Not enough books are quizzed and the system is too expensive, but it is a useful tool for those that don't have a strong knowledge of children's literature.

Hot Key Books are a new publishing company that have what I think is a brilliant alternative - the Hot Key Ring - in which they give an idea of what kind of issues are in that book without prescribing who it might be suitable for.  No hint of reading level or age appropriateness, but a good indicator of content that wouldn't be off-putting for the reader or parent.
I have seen a number of YA books with 'parental guidance' or 'warning: explicit content' signs on their covers - it just makes you want to read it more ;-)

Saturday, 23 June 2012

#cpd23 Things 8 & 9

Thing 8 and 9 are all about organising yourself, first up is Google Calendar.  I already have a google account and so have the calendar, but I use the one on my Blackberry instead.  Maybe when I get a new phone next year and it isn't compatible with that I will change my mind and use the google one instead but for now I'm content not to change.  There's no one I need to share it with, my life does not have that many demands!

Thing 9 is Evernote - a really great looking tool for keeping track of things of note online or on your desktop. For it to be useful I think you need to spend a bit of time practicing and creating a collection of notes on there to get it going so I think I'll make that a project for a day in the Summer Holidays (4 weeks and counting!).

Monday, 11 June 2012

#cpd23 Things 5, 6 & 7!

So I've got miles behind on #cpd23 and we're only 1/4 of the way through!  The main reason is that I read Thing 5: Reflective Practice and thought 'I really need to dedicate a bit of time to that' but then never found the time!  I really do want to get into reflective practice, not least because it is an important tool in writing a Chartership portfolio (I've found a mentor so things are beginning!), but I don't want my lack of time lately to make me give up on cpd23 entirely so I've decided to skip the Thing for later.

Thing 6: Online networks
I'm not very good at networking, I find talking to people difficult unless I already know them (what a conundrum) and am especially quiet in large crowds.  That was why online networking appealed so much - hiding behind a screen.  In fact, at last weekend's Lighting the Future conference I was far more comfortable talking to people because, as well as a few I've met before, there were many I've corresponded with (my mum won't let me say 'talked to') online and I enjoyed seeing them in 'real life'.  Saying that though, I think there are far too many available so I'm very select about what I keep up with.

I created a LinkedIn account a long time ago because a friend invited me, but it didn't take me long to decide it wasn't going to have a big impact on my life and I couldn't be bothered maintaining the account.  In fact I made the decision so permanent that I deleted the account and have been deleting invites from other people ever since.  Every now and again I wonder whether to start it up again but haven't been persuaded.  I agree with the quote from Reid Hoffman at the end of the Thing 6 post on the cpd23 blog "Facebook is the backyard BBQ; LinkedIn is the office" and this is partly why I don't use it - I don't think LinkedIn will make a massive difference to my career.

I love Facebook.  I don't use any applications other than GoodReads and I keep my friend list down to 101 people because the number pleases me <ahem> so I only have people that I am really interested in in 'real' life.  I do 'like' a lot of library, YA lit, kid lit and literacy related things and regularly look at my newsfeed and update my status.  I keep it entirely personal though, only occasionally sharing the professional things that I think are important for non-librarians as well.
I'm not involved in LISNPN or LAT and although I have logged into the CILIP website and created a profile I don't really use the communities.  I am however on the School Librarian Network (SLN) which is a Yahoo group that I get e-mail digests from and read the posts that interest me and occasional contribute to.  I signed up to Google+ and then never looked at it again, and I don't have a pintrest account but I have looked at a few walls and really like the idea of quickly sharing such a variety of sources of entertainment and information.  GoodReads counts as another community as you have 'friends' and can nosy in one another's 'bookshelves' for inspiration.  I only really use it to record what I'm reading and a brief starred rating but occasionally read a blog post of an author or have a look at what's going on in a group.
Thing 7: real-life Networks
So you might already know, because I have mentioned a few times not least in this post about our conference, that I am a member of CILIP YLG, CILIP SLG and the SLA.  I am particularly interested in the YLG, being a member of the London Committee, because I love that it concentrates on enthusing children and young people to read for pleasure.  I think my involvement has made a massive difference in my career, and life in general.  Although it hasn't got me a well paid job (one day maybe) it has helped shape the kind of Librarian I am and given me confidence in my abilities and methods, yay!  It has found me colleagues that understand what I do all day, which teachers often don't, and friends that share common interests.  I can't recommend joining a committee enough.  Would I consider joining another network?  I am thinking about joining the CILIP CDG - Career Development Group - for the Chartership process, but other than that I can't say I can think of one that is worth dedicating precious time to...saying that, I keep meaning to contact the Guides association to volunteer as a Guider, that counts right!

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Lighting the Future

For those of you not in the know, this weekend was the joint conference of three bodies that care greatly about children and reading:
I am a member of all three, and on the London Committee of the YLG.  Each group usually holds their own annual conference, but for the first time since 2000 they decided to join forces for a mega conference and came up with a really packed programme.  Inspirational speakers from all sides of youth librarianship and literacy gave ringing war cries to promote our services 'outisde the echo chamber' and 'shout about' school libraries.  Authors, poets and storytellers entertained us with their creative minds and made clear their support for what we do (they judged their audience well for roaring rounds of applause!).  Enthusiastic publishers loaded us down with tonnes of proof copies and promotional materials for their Carnegie and Greenaway hopefuls of the was non-stop, from checking in at noon on Friday to leaving at 2.30pm today.  I don't want to regurgitate everything I heard so if you're interested in detail it is worth searching #LTF12 on twitter or looking at the tweets collated by John Iona, taking out some of the more irreverent observations, on storify.  I just thought I'd share a few of my highlights:

I really enjoyed the panel discussion about reading and technology on Friday afternoon with three very eloquent and knowledgeable panelists.  Bev Humphrey talked about using new technologies to support literacy while Jonathan Douglas made the point that the Reading Agency's research into reading habits have shown a decline in reading in all formats, but that children are accessing story in new ways that still promote language and creativity.  Dave Coplin, from Microsoft, won the crowd over talking about how what he does should support what we do and that, if anything, the existence of the Internet makes a Librarian more important for curating and finding knowledge.  He said he doesn't see the point in teaching how to use particular software, but teaching children critical thinking and research skills is vital.
Storytelling over dinner capped off the evening wonderfully, I enjoyed listening to John Agard so much that I had to rush to the bookshop to buy a book of his poetry for him to sign.
Friday's haul of books, bags, posters,
mug, postcards and bookmarks
Saturday's intense but rousing panel discussion around 'Reading in the political spotlight' with a stellar panel was excellent.  My favourite quotes were from Aidan Chambers, who made it clear that he disagreed with government interference in the work of specialists, and that we must not confuse the profession of teacher with the act of teaching because as Librarians we can teach more!  Simon Mayo chaired the panel and made some great points himself about the tangible difference between a school which holds it's library at it's heart and one that doesn't have one.  Again, the after dinner entertainment was fantastic, with Morris Gleitzman keeping the room silent for an hour with his fascinating life story.
Saturday's many books...
Kevin Crossley-Holland, in his role as President of the SLA, gave a wonderful closing speech on Sunday, telling us he firmly believes that a well stocked, well-funded library should be the cornerstone of every school in the country and he is prepared to work hard for us during his presidency.

All of the whole delegate sessions were fantastic but, to be honest, I was disappointed by the workshops I was allocated. I decided not to tell you which ones I went to because others might have found them useful but I found that they were on matters that I have personally considered a lot already and, one in particular, I felt I could have presented a better session about myself! They hadn't been my first choices so hopefully most people didn't feel the same way as me.

The exhibition of publishers and library suppliers was great fun. Now that I've been on the London Committee for a few years I've talked to a number of the publicists and it was nice to be recognised and have books pushed into my hands almost immediately. Meeting up with Librarians I know well or only see at events, or even that I'd not met in person but have tweeted regularly, was excellent and I left with an awful lot to carry home!
Really impressed with Hot Key Books
efforts to save the environment by giving
memory sticks with their proofs on!
Of all the books I picked up I think the 3 I'm most excited about the Darren Shan, Elen Caldecott, and Sally Gardner.  I also picked up a nice little heap of non-fiction for school.