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 Meet the 2020 YLG National Committee

Alison Brumwell - Chair and Conference Secretary

I have nearly fifteen years’ experience as a children's specialist and am currently employed at Kirklees College, alongside which I freelance as a reader development and literacy consultant. I was immensely proud to serve as 2019 CKG Chair of Judges, which is the highlight of my professional career. In addition to reviewing for School Librarian, I blog and use social media platforms to promote my passion for a wide range of literature and art. I have also been an active volunteer with Africa Educational Trust since 2011, which has involved setting up primary school libraries and delivering staff training in rural Eastern Uganda.

Jake Hope - Past Chair & CILIP CKG Working Party Chair

Jake Hope is a reading development and children's book consultant. He was the Reading and Learning Development Manager for Lancashire Libraries, one of the largest library authorities in the UK. Jake has judged nearly every major children's book award in the UK and has chaired numerous promotional selection panels. Alongside delivering training and public speaking on books and reading, Jake is an active reviewer and a passionate advocate for libraries books and reading. Jake is past-chair of the Youth Libraries Group, the Chair of the Working Party for the prestigious CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medal, and is working on a book about visual literacy for Facet publishing.

Tricia Adams - Income Generation

As a professional librarian with more years’ experience than I care to mention – I have worked in several sectors including government libraries and as a self-employed information specialist but have come back to my favourite – of working with children, in various guises, for the last 20+ years. This has included a spell as a primary school librarian, before moving back to public libraries in my home county of Northamptonshire, where I have been Head of Children’s and Young People’s Public Library Services and the manager of the Schools’ Library Service – Learning Resources for Education.

I have been Director of the School Library Association since 2008. I have had the honour to be Chair of the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Awards judging panel and YLG during 2008 and 2017.

Sue Polchow - National Secretary

I have worked to enthuse young people about the pleasures of books and enjoyment of reading for many years. Firstly as a school librarian and then as a Schools Library Service adviser and then SLS manager. I currently work as an advisory librarian for a library and educational software company. I chaired East Midlands YLG and was that region's CKG judge which was a memorable and enriching experience. I became the East Midlands representative on the National Committee and then took on the roles of Website Manager and also National Secretary. If any YLG regional group secretaries need any advice or support please do get in touch as always happy to help.

Helen Thompson - National Treasurer & North East Representative

After nearly 30 years experience of working with children and young people in public libraries (a lamentable proportion of that time being spent in management roles) I have now achieved my dream job of working in a school library. Based in the North East, I am the NE rep on national as well as treasurer. I have been proud to serve as a judge for the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Awards (twice!), and as chair of judges (once). Other previous roles include chair of national YLG, and editor of the newsletter & YLR. I contribute book reviews to The School Librarian, and am a member of School Libraries Group and the School Library Association. I am always available to offer advice and support to regional treasurers, so please do not hesitate to contact me.

Amy McKay - CILIP CKG Co-ordinator

I have been a school librarian in Northamptonshire for 15 years and truly believe I have the best job in the world. One of my proudest moments was being named School Librarian of the Year 2016-17. YLG has been a huge support and source of inspiration since I joined my regional committee in 2009. I am currently the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway National Coordinator and am always happy to answer any CKG related questions.

Joy Court - Conference Manager

I am Reviews Editor for The School Librarian journal, author of Read to Succeed: strategies to engage children and young people in reading for pleasure (2011) and Reading By Right: successful strategies to ensure every child can read to succeed (2017) FACET and several of the SLA Riveting Reads booklists. Previously I was Chair of the CILIP CKG Working Party, and managed Coventry SLS, but now concentrate on books and libraries as a freelance consultant. I am a trustee and member of the National Council of the United Kingdom Literacy Association & on the selection panel for the UKLA Book Awards. I am also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and The English Association and an Honorary Fellow of CILIP but I’m proudest of all of my Honorary Life Membership of YLG!

Julia Hale - CILIP CKG Chair of Judges and South West Representative

School Libraries Advisor

I trained as a primary teacher but have been a children’s librarian for over twenty years, working in a variety of roles in public libraries from Surestart literacy worker to Young People’s Services Manager. I am currently Schools Libraries Advisor for Plymouth’s Schools Library Service. Throughout my career YLG has run as a golden thread, a supportive network of likeminded professionals dedicated to finding the right books to put into children’s hands. I joined London committee when I was a library assistant studying for my MA in librarianship and am currently Chair of the CILIP CKG Judges and National Rep for the South West Group.

Caroline Fielding - Exhibition Manager & London Representative

I've been working in libraries since 2004, but joined the YLG London committee when I moved from public libraries to school libraries in 2009. I chose YLG committee rather than SLG (I have been a member of both SIGs since 2004) because I am passionate about engaging CYP with reading and wanted to be involved in the CKG awards - one of the best things I've ever done was being a CKG judge. I have been Chair of YLG London for some years, and currently work part time as Librarian in a special needs academy in South London and full time as a Mum!

Elizabeth McDonald - Membership Manager & South East Representative

Reader Development Officer - Young People and Families.

Ferelith Hordon - Youth Libraries Review Editor

Ferelith was a Children's Librarian with Wandsworth for almost the whole of her career. She was - and still is - an active member of CILIP YLG and has served as Chair of both YLG London and of the National Committee. She has been a CILIP Carnegie-Greenaway judge and has chaired the judging committee for those awards. Though now retired she remains active in the children's book world and in YLG, editing both the monthly on-line newsletter and Youth Library Review. She is co-editor of Books for Keeps, the online review magazine for children's literature, and also editor of IBBYLink, the online journal of IBBY UK.

For Youth Libraries Review & YLG e-newsletter enquiries email

Christopher Bertenshaw - Website Manager & East Midlands Representative

Chris is currently working as both a Children's and Community Learning & Information Librarian in Derbyshire. He began his career as a Library Assistant at Bolsover Library, before being made Assistant in Charge of Bakewell Library. He qualified as a Librarian in 2015, taking on the role as a Digital Assistant throughout libraries in Derbyshire, before taking up his current roles in 2018. He is a passionate advocate for the importance of reading for pleasure, especially for children, and is proud to play an active role in the YLG, with a two-year role as regional judge for the Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Medals in 2018/19 a particular highlight. He adores his wife and three young boys, would love to become a published author, and is starting to wonder whether he has left his professional footballing and snowboarding careers too late at the age of 33. 

Lizzie Ryder - North West Representative

I’ve worked in School Libraries for 13 years and have been enthusiastically involved in promoting the CKG Awards with many school shadowing groups throughout that time. I’ve been a committee member of YLG North West since 2010 during which time I was incredibly lucky to serve as the region’s CKG judge and then latterly as Chair. I look forward to new bookish adventures as part of YLG National Committee!

Tanja Jennings - Northern Ireland Representative (Joint)

From an early age I’ve loved reading because of its immersive and transcendent power. This enjoyment of literature led to my current vocation as a School Librarian in Wellington College Belfast. Along the way I gained the qualifications of a Joint Honours BA in English & History, an NVQ in Journalism, an MA in English [Irish Writing], an MSc in Information & Library Studies and a PG Dip in Children's Literature. I am the co-ordinator for the Northern Ireland heat of the Kids' Lit Quiz. I also review books for The School Librarian, the Book Bag and Reading Zone. I've had the honour of representing Northern Ireland as a judge on the panel for the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Awards during 2016 and 2017 and being involved in the annual CKG twitter takeover which was an exciting and uplifting experience.

Maura Farrelly - Northern Ireland Representative (Joint)

Having had a career working mostly in the education sector, I have been a librarian in several schools, the Schools Library Service, and while my children were small, a library assistant in Queens’ University Library where I loved working in Special Collections for almost 10 years. I especially loved creating our displays and had a special talent for finding space for at least one children’s book in every exhibition I curated. It therefore came as no surprise to my boss when I made the move back to school libraries. I am very happy to be a school librarian once again and love Victoria College Belfast, where I have 2 libraries to manage for our pupils who range from age 3-18. Along with this move came the incredible opportunity to serve as regional judge for the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway awards for 2018/19.

Jennifer Horan - Scotland Representative

I have worked as a school librarian in authorities across Scotland since qualifying as a librarian in 2012, but have recently returned to student life as I work to complete a PhD in Children’s Literature at University of Glasgow. I joined YLG Scotland five years ago and have been fortunate enough to hold many exciting committee posts including CKG rep 2016/17 and Chair of the committee, which I currently do. When not reading, I can usually be found at the theatre or climbing Scottish hills.

Ellen Krajewski - Eastern Representative

I have worked in school and college libraries for eighteen years, most recently as the Librarian at The Hemel Hempstead School in Hertfordshire.  I took the opportunity to retire early in July 2020.  I had the privilege of being a CKG Judge for the 2012, 2013 and 2016 medals and I am looking forward immensely to the challenge of being Chair of Judges for the 2021 medals.  I have been actively involved in YLG and SLG for some years and was appointed to the SLA Board in 2018.  I am currently Chair of YLG Eastern and Herts SLA, and Secretary to the SLG National Committee.  I have always been an avid reader and I am never without a book in my hand.  I am passionate about Reading for Pleasure and take every opportunity to promote books to young people.  

Sioned Jacques - Wales Representative

Sioned is the Welsh and Children’s; curriculum and literacy support Librarian at Cardiff Hubs and Libraries. A long-time member of CILIP and particularly active with the Youth Libraries Group member network both in Wales and UK nationally, Sioned has worked in libraries for over twenty years, and has been with Cardiff Hubs and Libraries for the past 5 years. Sioned has judged and chaired the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Awards and the English and Welsh Tir na n-Og Awards, been on various book selection panels and thinks the best part of her job is listening to children talk about the books they’ve read. Sioned is representing SCL on behalf of her manager, current SCL Chair Nic Pitman.”

Isobel Powell - West Midlands Representative

I came to librarianship through a slightly convoluted route having originally studied science, medicine and then a degree in psychology. But my love of reading has always been there from early childhood so after I completed my MSc in Information and Library science in 2001 I went to work as a librarian for the NHS. After a few years of doing this I decided that what I was really interested in was children’s literature, so I left the NHS and became a school librarian. This then led me to work for the Coventry School Library Service initially as the advisory librarian before becoming the head of the Service 5 years ago. I am currently the Chair of the West Midlands YLG group and was previously the CKG judge for the West Midlands (2015-2016). I am also a book reviewer for the School Librarian and an active member of the West Midlands ASCEL committee and the SLSUK working party. Outside of work I am a mum to 2 daughters and enjoy Amigurumi 3D crochet creating unusual animals.

Ben Lawrence - Yorkshire and the Humber Representative

I manage Calderdale’s Public Children’s Library Service, a job I find incredibly rewarding sharing my passions for music and literature with the families in and around Halifax, West Yorkshire. I am an Early Childhood methodology tutor for the British Kodály Academy and regularly present at conferences and deliver training on using songs and rhymes for Children Centre and Early Years staff as well as Children’s Library professionals. In 2014 I was invited to speak about the power of sharing songs, rhymes and stories at an MP’s reception at the Houses of Parliament. More recently, I've recorded songs and rhymes for the charity Booktrust, for their National Bookstart Week celebrations and, with my colleague Shelley Bullas, co-authored the chapter Music and Rhyme Time Sessions for the Early Years in the book Library Services from Birth to Five: Delivering the Best Start, edited by Carolynn Rankin and Avril Brock. I LOVE playing viola, and can be found playing regularly for Espressivo Chorus and the Fields Ensemble.

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