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Coventry Inspiration Book Awards

Posted By Isobel Powell, 06 July 2019
I thought I would tell you about the Celebration Event that we had last week for the Coventry Inspiration Book Awards. This was held at the Ricoh Arena with thanks to the Wasps Rugby Club whose sponsorship makes this possible. It is a great afternoon when the schools who have taken part get to meet the winning authors. and illustrators and present them with their awards. There are 5 categories, each starting off with 8 shortlisted books that get whittled down week by week as the books with the least votes get knocked out until we have our winner. What's the Story (ages 4-7) was won by Jim Whalley and Stephen Collins for the hilarious picture book Baby’s first Bank Heist. Telling Tales (ages 7-9) was won by the brilliantly comic Mr Penguin and the Lost Treasure by Alex T. Smith. Next was out transition category, Hooked on Books (ages 9-12), which crosses over from the top end of Primary into the first couple of years of Secondary was won by the fantastic House with Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson. Our final 2 categories are for Secondary Schools only with the winner of the Simply the Book category (13+) being the amazing Sycthe by Neal Shusterman. lthough Neal couldn’t be here for the celebration event as he lives in America many of our students were lucky enough to meet him back in December when he came to Coventry as part of a very short UK visit. Our final category is for all those teenagers who are short on time, Rapid Reads, quick read books for ages 11-16. This was won by Ann Evans for her scary book A Little Secret. It was a brilliant afternoon with a wonderful buzz of excitement and enthusiasm as a room full of students of all ages talked about their favourite books and checked out new recommendations. It is hard work running the book awards on top of all our usual School Library Service work and we have already announced out shortlists for next year so it is a year round operation! However, it is all worth it when you read the comments left by the students at the Celebration Event. Here are a couple of my favourites; “Every Book was amazing and has inspired me to read”, “I loved this event and look forward to more in other years” and “The Book Awards has drawn me more into reading”. As children's librarians it is important to remember that what we do is important and can have a real impact on children's lives so we should shout about it more often and loudly. If you are lucky enough to have a local children's book awards then find out how you can get involved as together with National Book Awards like the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals they are a wonderful way of introducing children and young people to a wide range of wonderful books which they might not come across on their own. By doing so you increase the chances of them finding the book that speaks to them and switches them on to reading with pleasure. This is how you help to create lifelong readers which is something all librarians aspire to.

Tags:  awards  book awards  children's books  Children's Literature  libraries  Reading for Pleasure  school libraries 

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Secondary school librarians in partnership

Posted By Alison D. Brumwell, 15 March 2019
The importance of networking and building partnerships was in evidence at the first "cross border" Calderdale/Kirklees secondary schools network meeting earlier this week. Hosted by Calderdale Libraries, this gave delegates the opportunity for a tour of Halifax Library, which opened its doors in 2017. In addition to staff from Calderdale Libraries and SLS, delegates included librarians from Kirklees Libraries and Gillian Bennet, Subject Librarian at Kirklees College, who gave a presentation on the new Level 3 Apprenticeship in Library Information and Archive Services. The new apprenticeship will be rolled out at the college in September 2019. The 18-month course reflects the nature of a profession which is changing; in part, as an anticipated 45% of the workforce is due to retire in the next decade. The apprenticeship has already attracted attention and enquiries from local authorities across the country, in addition to the MOD and Bodleian Library. Secondary school librarians also had the chance to share good practice and to hear more about Kirklees Libraries' project work in the areas of mental health and well-being and early intervention for pupils at risk of exclusion. I was pleased to update everyone on the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals, as the 2019 shortlists will be announced on 19th March. The meeting was so productive that we are aiming for another joint network meeting in the summer term at the new Springfield Sixth Form Centre (one of Kirklees College's six centres), Dewsbury, West Yorkshire.

Tags:  professional development  school libraries 

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Making a Difference - an account of the Youth Libraries Group Conference

Posted By Jacob Hope, 04 December 2018

Kevin Sheehan, School Librarian of the Year 2010, was the winner of the inaugural Klaus Flugge bursary.  The bursary was set up thanks to the generosity of Klaus Flugge of Andersen Press and allows a librarian to attend the Youth Libraries Group Annual conference as a fully paid delegate.  In times of constraint for both school and public libraries, this is an act that can make a real difference to individuals and to their practices, just as libraries themselves are able to make a huge difference the lives and aspirations of those using them.

On a serious note I was really experiencing a mid-job mid-life crisis when I applied for the Klaus Flugge bursary that successfully enabled me to attend the Youth Library Group conference.  Actually, I was on the brink where I questioned whether I wanted to carry on as a School Librarian in the future.  Constantly being barraged by headlines in the media really has had an negative impact on my own mental health.  What have I got to contribute? Are there going to be School Librarians in the future?  Am I good enough? 

This year’s theme was on Reading the Future examining the impact of libraries on children and young people.  My tote bag said it all ‘It all starts with Enid Blyton’, which I felt on reflection was like some kind of karma.  Enid Blyton did not just provide me with escapism, away from the 1980’s plastic monotony during my formative years, but more notably made me fall in love with books, libraries and librarians.  So, it was exactly like going full circle!


"We are all the same when wearing pyjamas."

It was an understatement to say that this year’s three day conference was jam packed.  There was so much for me to hear, see and experience, and I was determined to savour every single moment of this time.  Again, another understatement to say it was all brilliant.  However, if I was to identify three key moments it would be:

-         Melvin Burgess, Sharon Dogar, Juno Dawson and Sally Nicholls panel discussion examining  women’s representation within young adult fiction.  Melvin really summed it up as ‘childhood is a peculiar prison’.  However, what is very clear is that publishers, authors and librarians create a freedom where positive female characters, whether that be from past, present or future, can have and regain power.

-         Whoever thought of the Enid Blyton midnight feast deserves a sainthood.  It pulled together the whole cohort of the publishing and library world in such a fun and spontaneous way!  We are all same when wearing pyjamas.    I don’t think I have ever experienced anything as hilarious and well-spirited at a conference previously.

-         Jackie Morris provided a very emotionally satisfying conclusion to the conference exploring the importance in exploring visual literacy through wildlife and nature.  It was a very special experience listening to Jackie on how the best ideas come from the silence of voice.  I also felt very privileged obtaining a signed copy of ‘Lost Words’ personalised with my very own badger.


Jake Hope advocated in both his opening and closing speech that it was important to go away from the conference, then put the inspiration and experiences into practice.  Actually, I have to say that I have done this repeatedly since being back at school.  It is not just myself but also others have seen the positive energy that this conference has instilled into my whole being.  There has not been a murmur of those constant negative mumblings that I experienced prior to the conference.  It has really made me happy and positive for the future.  I really do believe that School Librarians have a lasting impact on lives.  Thank you for making me believe in myself again.

Tags:  conference  Klaus Flugge Bursary  reading  reading for pleasure  school libraries 

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Great School Libraries Campaign

Posted By Administration, 02 October 2018

I seem to have spent the majority of my career caring about, and campaigning for, school libraries.  So I am delighted both to be involved with this campaign and to support it – a full 3 year campaign can only be a good thing!

The campaign is spearheaded by SLA, CILIP SLG and CILIP. The campaign has three aims: to secure school library funding; to produce a national framework for school libraries and recognition of school libraries within the Ofsted framework. 

The Campaign working group will be aiming to engage all potential stakeholders – whether that’s school library staff, parents, and school leadership or decision makers in government. All children deserve a great school library because adequately funded, staffed school libraries deliver enhanced and independent learning as well as reading and curriculum support. School libraries contribute to building lifelong readers and support whole school initiatives promoting reading for pleasure.

Evidence also suggests school libraries:

  • Lead to higher qualifications/attainment
  • Promote a better quality of life
  • Generate improved results 
  • Alleviate pressure on health and mental health services
  • Alleviate teacher workload
  • Increase efficiency for schools
  • Contribute to the delivery of a well-rounded education
  • Deliver and teach essential Information/critical literacy skills to combat fake news and engender independent learning 

Throughout the course of the campaign the School Library Data Group will be collecting evidence in order to show the huge variety of ways that UK based school libraries contribute to better outcomes for every child. 

We all have a role to play in supporting our Great School Libraries. To find out more go to:

The campaign are delighted to release the first batch of resources:

  • A set of two posters highlighting why school libraries are important designed by Carel Press.
  • Photoboard – either print it off and write in it why school libraries are important, or cut out the middle and take a picture of you supporting the campaign. Tweet with the reason why #greatschoollibraries deserve support. School staff could use it as the basis of a display in the library and get pupils and parents to contribute
  • case study template and example – show the impact a school library can have by contributing a case study. It could be you, or it could be someone you know. There’s an example to give you an idea of how it’ll work – and as you’ll see – it needn’t be perfect! 

The campaign would also like to invite school staff to take part in discussions that will contribute to building the national framework and defining what a ‘Great School Library’ actually is. Get involved by Tweeting (#greatschoollibraries; @cilipslg; @uksla), Facebooking (search for School Library Association (UK)) or commenting on the website. 

 Here are some of the questions the campaign is discussing at the moment:

  1. What makes a great school library?
  2. What elements of school librarianship do you think should be in a national framework?
  3. What topic do you think would be of interest to you/your school library staff member?

Our colleagues in Scotland have created a framework for showing impact: – check it out!

Get involved!  Sign up for updates and generally make a commitment to a better future of all our children.

Tags:  school libraries 

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