Monthly Archives: November 2016

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#TeenLibrarian Monthly November 2016

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The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch a review

the-hanging-tree
Suspicious deaths are not usually the concern of PC Peter Grant or the Folly, even when they happen at an exclusive party in one of the most expensive apartment blocks in London. But Lady Ty’s daughter was there, and Peter owes Lady Ty a favour.

Plunged into the alien world of the super-rich, where the basements are bigger than the house and dangerous, arcane items are bought and sold on the open market, a sensible young copper would keep his head down and his nose clean. But this is Peter Grant we’re talking about.
 
He’s been given an unparalleled opportunity to alienate old friends and create new enemies at the point where the world of magic and that of privilege intersect.
 
Assuming he survives the week . . .

 

Important notice to readers: If you are considering picking up this book without reading the first five in the series you will enjoy it but you will derive greater enjoyment if you start with Rivers of London – the first Peter Grant novel and read them in order because they are brilliant and you will avoid spoilers!

The presidential election and other gloom-inducing occurrences around the world last week left me at a rather low ebb! The Hanging Tree helped to restore my sense of humour and kept me going through the days with something to look forward; in this instance going to bed and reading about PC Peter Grant’s misadventures in policing the Demi-monde.

The Hanging Tree answered several questions that have been hanging around since the series started but unfortunately (for me) added about a dozen new questions and made me hungry to find out more about the history of English magic, how magical systems around the world differ and when Peter will be heading off overseas on an international Falcon case.

Look let me be perfectly honest with you, this series is brilliant! Like a fine wine or cheese the story and Ben’s writing style has matured and improved as the series has developed, now with The Hanging Tree Ben has displaced Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files as my favourite urban fantasy series. I often get accused of saying that the book I am currently reading is my favourite thing but with this series it is true, partially because it is set in and around London – and I recognise a number of the locations that Peter and his allies have been to, through or blown up and it has a lot to do with Ben’s writing, which has brought to mind the work Terry Pratchett; he is the first author that I have read since the great man passed away that has combined humour with serious intent in such a way that made me laugh out loud and then giggle for a few pages thereafter.

Trust me*, if you have even the slightest interest in urban fantasy or reading about a London imbued with magic, black British Goddesses and mixed race protagonists then Rivers of London is series you need in your life!

*I am a Librarian!

Read the Vote

When it comes to politics and Libraries I have always skirted around the edges, although my sympathies lie firmly on the left I did not want to align this site too closely with any particular side of the political divide as I know librarians on the left and right that use the site and did not want to alienate either.

Like many people on the left and centre I have been shaken by political developments across the world and the rightward lurch currently occuring in western democracies. I have decided to be more open with my political views and become more politically active where possible.

Libraries, are intensely political – no matter what has been said about them being apolitical; any institution that exists to uplift all parts of society is inherently democratic and intensely liberal – no matter the political leanings of the council or staff.

With that in mind I would like to suggest that Librarians and Library Staff step in whenever there are local or national elections and get the public to

Read the Vote!

This idea was sparked by reading about Rock the Vote a movement that has, since the 1990s, fused pop culture, music, art & technology to fulfil its mission of building long-term youth political power.

Libraries are perfectly placed to provide plain English (or first language of choice) information on all sides of the political discussion, that includes Public Libraries, School Libraries, University and College Libraries and any others that provide a service. The idea is not to push a partisan agenda but provide the information and context required for voters to make an informed choice when it comes to electing officials or making other nation-shaking choices (the Brexit vote for example).

This can be run on a local level with Local Government elections and on a national level with mid-term and national elections.

At present this is just a nebulous idea and I would like to hear suggestions on how this could be made a reality or if it is even feasible. Please feel free to make your views known in the comments below.

Thank you

How to…

how-to

I have created an A3 poster that I have titled “How To…” it can be downloaded by clicking on the image above.

UK Youth Parliament annual sitting kicks off Parliament Week 2016

On Friday 11 November, Members of the UK Youth Parliament will debate a range of topical issues, including the need for cheap, accessible public transport and tackling racist and religious discrimination. In addition, they will hold a short debate on to reflect on current political affairs and their ideas for “A Better, Kinder Democracy.”

The Youth Parliament, sitting for its seventh year in the House of Commons Chamber, heralds the start of UK Parliament Week (14-20 November), an annual festival of events intended to connect communities across the UK with their democracy.

This year’s Make Your Mark campaign to decide the topics of the Youth Parliament’s debate in the House of Commons received a record number of ballots, reaching 978,216 young people. Make Your Mark is now the biggest youth consultation of its kind in UK history, with almost two million young people aged 11-18 taking part in the last two years.

Schools across the UK have been encouraged to tune in to watch the debates which will be streamed on parliamentlive.tv and broadcast on BBC Parliament from 11.15am. At the close of debates, MYPs will vote to decide which of the topics will become the focus of their national 2017 campaign.

For the first time, the annual sitting of the Youth Parliament coincides with Armistice Day, and so the session will begin with a two minute silence at 11.00, which will be streamed live on the UK Parliament website.

Morning session
Watch from 11.15am (broadcast concludes by approximately 12.40pm)
· We must stop cuts that affect the NHS
· Votes for 16 and 17 year olds in all public elections
· Make public transport cheaper, better and accessible for all

Afternoon session
Watch from 1.40pm
· Tackling racism and religious discrimination, particularly against people who are Muslim or Jewish
· A curriculum to prepare us for life
· ‘A Better, Kinder Democracy’

The UKYP sitting will be presided over by the Speaker Rt Hon. John Bercow MP, who said:

“I am delighted to welcome the Youth Parliament to their annual sitting. It is always encouraging to see young people debating issues so passionately in the House of Commons and participating in our democracy. Almost a million young people, from across the UK, voted for the motions before us on the Order Paper today, and I am pleased that they are making their voices heard and engaging with the parliamentary process.”

MYPs will also be joined by David Lidington MP, Leader of the House, and Valerie Vaz MP, Shadow Leader of the House, who will both speak from the despatch box in recognition of the UKYP as the only external group permitted to use the House of Commons Chamber.
David Lidington MP, Leader of the House of Commons, said:
“The UK Youth Parliament is an opportunity for Westminster to hear young people raising the issues they care about most. Both MPs in Parliament and ministers in Whitehall will be listening to what MYPs have to say.”
Valerie Vaz MP, Shadow Leader of the House of Commons, said:
“Nearly a million young people voted to decide the topics that their Members of the Youth Parliament are debating, which range from public services to promoting democracy and fighting discrimination. These are very pertinent at this time, and I look forward to the debate which I am sure will be of the usual very high standard.”

Connor Hill, Member of Youth Parliament for Dudley said:
“We as a Youth Parliament are proud to represent young people across the UK and the House of Commons is the perfect place to do just that. We have once again carried out the largest youth consultation in the UK. The number of young people taking part in Make Your Mark this year has reached the phenomenal heights of over 978,000 ballots. The opportunity to debate issues that young people have voted on in such a hallow chamber is a once in a lifetime opportunity and every single MYP is honoured to be able to do so to represent their area.”

Around 250 MYPs from across the UK will participate in the debate and have been elected by their peers to represent them. MPs have also been invited to meet their local Youth Parliamentarians on the day to discuss these key issues.

The Youth Parliament is one of the key events of Parliament Week, a national awareness week supported by the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

Staying Anonymous Online – an introduction

#5thNovDemo

At noon on the 5th November I joined friends, colleagues and around 2500 other fellow believers in Museums, Galleries and a comprehensive, fully-staffed Library service outside the British Library on a march through London.

It was amazing – I saw so many people I have known for years but seldom see in real life (and that was just the Librarians). Amongst the library supporters was Alan Gibbons who had a pivotal role in organising everyone, acting as master of ceremonies and making sure that speakers got to the megaphone; Lord Bird the cross-bench peer also made an appearance and gave a rousing and moving speech about the cost of closing libraries, his words are still echoing in my head two days later, Michael Rosen was his normal fiery self and Chris Riddell current Children’s Laureate spoke as well and apparently drew as he walked. Philip Ardagh loomed imposingly like a giant, bearded Moai statue and spoke as he usually does incredibly eloquently.

#5thNovDemo

There were so many people I know online in attendance – most of whom I only found out about after the event which is a shame as I love meeting people that I have only know via e-mail or twitter.

I joined my fellow School Librarians bringing up the rear of the march, the whole event was impeccably organised and run by Unison shop stewards. The Metropolitan Police were also in attendance and kept a low profile throughout making sure that traffic kept its distance and otherwise acting unobtrusively.

One of the most heartening things of the march was the fantastic level of public support, from drivers hooting and waving and people on the side-lines applauding as we walked past.

This is the first time since the anti-austerity March for a Difference march I 2011 that I have been able to get out and stand up for libraries and I have missed it!

Ian Clark one of the founders of Voices for the Library & The Radical Librarians Collective put together a short video of the day here:

The march was peaceful, professional and ran like a dream and I would like to thank everyone who marched and those that provided moral support from near and far!

Regional marches are being organised to keep the momentum moving.

GIVEAWAY: The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch

the-hanging-tree

The latest book in Ben Aaronovitch’s best-selling Rivers of London series is now available!

Suspicious deaths are not usually the concern of PC Peter Grant or the Folly, even when they happen at an exclusive party in one of the most expensive apartment blocks in London. But Lady Ty’s daughter was there, and Peter owes Lady Ty a favour.

Plunged into the alien world of the super-rich, where the basements are bigger than the house and dangerous, arcane items are bought and sold on the open market, a sensible young copper would keep his head down and his nose clean. But this is Peter Grant we’re talking about.

He’s been given an unparalleled opportunity to alienate old friends and create new enemies at the point where the world of magic and that of privilege intersect. Assuming he survives the week . . .

How to win a copy:

Ben’s publisher Gollancz has very kindly given me three copies to give away to celebrate the launch. So if you would like to win a copy of this amazing book all you have to do is tweet me! (I am @mattlibrarian on Twitter) Say something like “I would like to win a copy of The Hanging Tree!” or words to that effect using the hashtag #THTgiveaway so I can keep track of entries.

The competition will close at 5pm on Friday 4th November, all names will go into a hat and the winners will be announced on Monday 7th November.