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Whitcliffe Mount School visit

Posted By Alison D. Brumwell, 07 May 2018
In times of austerity and budget cuts the opportunity to visit a new school library is always welcome. Whitcliffe Mount is a mixed secondary school in Cleckheaton, West Yorkshire. The original school was founded over 100 years ago, but in September 2017 new premises opened, which are adjacent to the old site. Part of the new build is an LRC on the first floor, which has a very different feel to the traditional library I last visited over two years ago.The LRC was planned and designed by Constellations and has a contemporary, modular feel which still functions as a busy, well-used multi-purpose space: as a lending library, as a forum for events and reader development activities and as a teaching and learning area. During my visit, I had the chance to observe Librarian Amanda Rabey and her assistant, Vicki Cawley, team teaching a Year 8 class alongside a member of the school's English faculty, something which is routine at Whitcliffe Mount and highlights the need for statutory school libraries. Stock standards are an issue as reduced shelf space in the new LRC has resulted in the collection's reduction from 12,000 volumes to 9,000. I was impressed with Amanda's and Vicki's positive attitude and commitment in ensuring the LRC was open in time for the new school year, and that service to staff and pupils hasn't been compromised (a challenge under any circumstances). In October 2018 Whitcliffe Mount's LRC will host Kirklees' secondary/middle schools network meeting, giving Amanda and Vicki the opportunity to share good practice with other school librarians and LRC managers.

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Reading the Future: It All Begins with Enid Blyton

Posted By Jacob Hope, 02 May 2018
Updated: 02 May 2018

The Youth Libraries Group annual conference is always a high point in the calendar, a chance to recharge creative energies and to connect with all manner of ideas and with individuals working in the field. Our theme this year is Reading the Future and aims to explore what it means to be a reader in the 21st Century, some of the opportunities and challenges that exist around this and the ways in which information, stories and imagination traverse different platforms and technologies.

Reading is a vital skill, an opportunity to find release from daily lives, to encounter and engage with news ways of thinking, to step into the past or to look forward into the future. Running beneath the conference’s main theme is a series of strands exploring key areas of interest. The capacity poetry holds for conveying feelings, emotion and acting as an access point for reading makes it a very worthwhile focal point. We are delighted to welcome CLiPPA winners Rachel Rooney and Joseph Coehlo as speakers as well as having the National Literacy Trust presenting research on the role reading poetry has on child literacy. 

With the 100 year anniversary of the Representation of the People Act, we’re looking at representation and rights for women in literature for young people. Our distinguished guests include Sally Nicholls, author of Things a Bright Girl Can Do, David Roberts, author and illustrator of Suffragette and many more. This melds with another key for the conference, Enid Blyton. 2018 marks 50 years since the writer, voted by the public as the UK’s best loved author, passed away. It feels an apt time to reconsider her literary legacy and uncanny ability to captivate contemporary readers. We will also have our first ever Midnight Feast in celebration of her work!

In another first, we will also be hosting the inaugural Robert Westall Memorial Lecture. This will be led by Dr Kim Reynolds from Newcastle University and Paula Wride from Seven Stories, the National Centre for the Children’s Book and will look at the indelible impact that twice winner of the Carnegie Medal Robert Westall’s work has made on the field. It feels massively exciting to be working with so many different agencies – BookTrust, Seven Stories, National Literacy Trust, Empathy Lab and more – to bring the latest research and findings and to enable networking opportunities that add value and increase reach.

it also feels apposite that this year’s conference is taking place in Manchester, one of the UK’s new UNESCO Cities of Literature and we’ll be holding a special dinner to celebrate the role of key children’s authors and illustrators from the city. The conference is uplifting, lively, vibrant and most of all inclusive. We look forward to welcoming public and school librarians alike, staff from school library services, people from the education sector and all with an interest in children’s books.

Do join us for what promises to be thought-provoking and enlivening conference and a chance to build change and critical mass around reading. To book your place please visit

We would love to know your best conference memory or the session you are most interested in attending!

Tags:  carnegie  conference  cpd  illustration  kate greenaway  poetry  reading  universaloffers  visual literacy  ylg 

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Kirklees World Book Day Quiz 2018

Posted By Alison D. Brumwell, 22 March 2018
The Beast from the East wreaked havoc earlier this month, with travel delays and widespread disruption causing many World Book Day events to be cancelled. Kirklees' 6th annual World Book Day Quiz was finally held earlier this week at Huddersfield Town Hall, with plenty of high spirits and laughter despite a two-week wait to find out who would lift the trophy in 2018. The quiz event has become a much-anticipated fixture in Kirklees schools' calendar since its inception in 2013, the brainchild of booksplus, the schools library service. Forty-three teams of Year Five, Six and Seven students from 27 local authority schools took part, answering questions from a book list of twenty great reads. There was something for everyone, from poetry (Kate Wakeling's 'Moon Juice'), award-nominated fiction (Lissa Evans' Carnegie Medal-shortlisted novel 'Wed Wabbit'), and picture books ('A Child of Books' and 'The Wooden Camel'). Students rose to the challenge during six rounds of questions. Quizmaster, local poet and Patron of Reading Conrad Burdekin, presided and sponsor publisher Walker Books provided book prizes for the winners of each quiz round. There were also book token prizes for the best teacher and student costumes: an array of Harry Potters, Snow Whites, Alice in Wonderlands and Cruella de Vils were on hand to enjoy the fun. When the dust settled, Birkby Junior School triumphed, repeating as quiz champions for the fourth straight year, with Hopton Primary School in second place and St. Patrick's Catholic Primary School (Huddersfield) in third place. A great afternoon for students, staff, parents and volunteers from the schools library service, Kirklees Council and Kirklees College. What better way to celebrate reading for pleasure than bringing schools together for World Book Day - well done to all the students who read, enjoyed and took part!

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Shelf Help - Exploring text with Chol theatre

Posted By Alison D. Brumwell, 15 March 2018
It was great to have a chance to see Chol Theatre in action yesterday, working with a small group of Drama students from North Huddersfield Trust School, Huddersfield. Chol is a small professional regional arts and theatre company which is part of a pilot project with Kirklees public libraries. This is designed to take The Reading Agency's Shelf Help collection and bring it to life in schools through drama and role play. Vicki Sawka, a theatre practitioner and lead artist, selected David Levithan's 2012 novel 'Every Day' as the basis for two workshop sessions with fifteen GCSE students. Everyone warmed up by introductions using a balloon and then read to punctuation (a standard RSC technique). Vicki introduced the text, with which the group were not familiar prior to the first session. By using hot-seating and role on the wall, students were inspired to get inside the character of A and the different bodies he inhabits; they were prompted to consider issues of gender and mental state. What would it be like to wake up in a different body every day? What challenges might that present? What meaning might the concepts of family, time and morality have for someone who didn't age or attach to others in the same way as they experienced? A fascinating first session and it will be interesting to see see the recorded feedback Vicki and her colleagues gather. They are working with groups from three local secondary schools and a pupil referral unit this term, with possible funding to extend the project if the pilot is successful. I appreciated being invited to observe and take part by Judith Robinson and Tiffany Haigh, two of the librarians who have been instrumental in launching the pilot project and adding value to the Shelf Help collection. Children's and young adult mental health and well-being has never been higher on the national agenda; this is an example of creative, innovative partnership working that can make a difference.

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Kirklees Secondary Schools Spring Term Network Meeting

Posted By Alison D. Brumwell, 09 March 2018
It's been a tough few years for schools in the local authority but lots of excitement this term about Carnegie shadowing and the recent announcement of the longlists. Clare Ackroyd, librarian at host school Royds Hall, has dedicated a huge space to featuring a display of previous Carnegie medal winners from the past illustrious 80 years, and is enthusing students about shadowing in 2018. BBG Academy has been engaging students with both Greenaway and Carnegie Medal shadowing for the past nine years, supported by Karen McKirgan, their LRC Manager (and a YLG committee member). Four Year 10 students have already signed up for Carnegie shadowing, determined to plough through GCSEs while enjoying reading, reviewing and discussing the shortlisted titles. There's a lot of guessing and speculation going on about which of the 20 books will make the final cut - all to be revealed on 15 March at the Amnesty UK shortlisting event in London. On another positive note, Jac Naylor, Librarian at North Huddersfield Trust School, announced that her school lbrary had just been awarded £8K from the Foyle Foundation school library scheme. Jac's successful bid will allow her to overhaul the library's very outdated non-fiction collection, support reader development initiatives like Carnegie shadowing and purchase tablets for use in the library. Jac said preparing the bid was speculative and a lot of hard work - her Bursar provided all the financial details - but obviously paid off in the end. I've supported several local schools in the past who needed help putting bids together; it is about having clear, sustainable objectives and being able to prove this to the funding body. Other librarians and LRC managers should be encouraged by Jac's success. Our summer network meeting will be hosted by Kirklees College - we self-facilitate and try to move locations around the local authority, which is huge and nominally has Huddersfield as its geographical centre. It's important to have guest speakers too, and highlight examples of good practice, otherwise there might be the tendency to do nothing but moan about shared issues. We've had recently had speakers from Wakefield Mental Health Museum, 2cqr Self Issue and Huddersfield Lit Fest; CPD and training are regularly discussed, as are news and views from the public library world. So, watch this space, especially when shadowing begins in earnest!

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Book Tourism- Shelf Catering

Posted By Tanja M. McGuffin- Jennings, 03 January 2018
BOOK NEWS In this current climate of library closures I was thrilled to hear a report about an enterprising Book Town in the Dumfries and Galloway area of Scotland- Wigtown. The town not only boasts 14 bookshops making it a veritable paradise for booklovers, it also offers Open Book, a business which lets tourists run their own bookshop for a fortnight. They can experiment with promotions and specialist subjects or even themes. The book world is their oyster. This book experience is fully booked till 2020 which highlights how much the magic of reading can touch people . With more Children's books and YA titles making the publishers' lists each year it just goes to show you can't keep a good book down and that it's more important than ever to promote reading to young people through local book awards and book related events, something that librarians can do so well. Tying this into a business plan will help students develop managerial and organisational skills too. You can read more here:

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