Monthly Archives: November 2017

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Library Advocacy: Correspondence with Labour

On the 24th November following the letter I sent to Justine Greening the Secretary of State for Education I sent an email to her shadow counterpart Angela Rayner:

Dear Ms Rayner

On the 21st November I sent Justine Greening a letter (, on the 24th November Dawn Finch on behalf of CILIP also sent her a letter (

The purpose of these was to highlight the dire straits that state school and college libraries in England find themselves in and the fact that England has the lowest teen literacy rate of all OECD nations. We feel that these two things are linked.

In the past, due to the non-statutory nature of school libraries and librarians, UK government ministers have left the decision about school libraries up to the heads of individual schools, this has clearly not worked as the low levels of literacy of English teenagers shows.

As Shadow Secretary of State for Education you have an important voice in parliament, I urge you to throw your support behind the push to have school libraries and librarians considered an absolute necessity for schools and colleges in England.

Yours sincerely

Matt Imrie
Librarian & Editor: Teen Librarian

Yesterday (the 29th November) I received a response from Labour’s Membership Services and Correspondence team:

Dear Matt,

Thanks for writing to Angela Rayner MP in her capacity as Shadow Secretary of State for Education. At this point in time Angela’s mailbag is so full that she has asked me to respond on her behalf.

Labour Party policy is created through discussion and consultation with our members – so thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts; I have forwarded your comments on to our Policy Team who will be grateful to receive them.

During our Annual Conference in Brighton, Angela Rayner MP outlined the Labour Party’s plan to transform Britain’s education system and set out the core principles of our National Education Service.

As we continue to build on our General Election manifesto in anticipation of entering Government, the draft charter sets out the principles that will structure and guide our National Education Service.

Angela Rayner MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Education, said:

The next Labour government will create a National Education Service, a cradle-to-grave system supporting everyone throughout their lives. It would start in the early years, where we know it has the most impact on changing people’s lives. But our National Education Service is not just for young people either. Our National Education Service will be lifelong, providing for people at every stage of their life.

A promise, from a Labour government, to the British people and British businesses, that we believe in all of them, in their talent and their potential, in all they give to our country, and that we will never limit their aspiration or their ability to succeed.

It will set out the education that people can expect throughout their lives. The contribution that society makes to them and that they can make to society.

Years of Conservative cuts have and continue to starve schools of the funding they need to deliver a first class education. Crippling underfunding will drive up class sizes and may force schools to cut corners. Labour will give all of our schools the investment they need, to ensure that every child has access to a world-class education.

We really value your ideas on how the next Labour government should tackle the challenges our country faces, and build a more equal and prosperous Britain.

As a member of the Labour Party, you can submit policy ideas and contribute to policy discussions online at As I said earlier, Labour Party policy is created through consultation and discussion with our members, so be sure to have your say in our Policy Forum today.

As a member of the Labour Party, you can submit policy ideas and contribute to policy discussions online at, we’d appreciate it if you could submit your policy idea to this site so that it can be considered by our Early Years, Education and Skills Policy Commission.

Best wishes,

Membership Services and Correspondence
On behalf of Angela Rayner MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Education

CILIP Letter to Justine Greening

On Thursday Dawn Finch, Immediate Past President of CILIP – the library and information association wrote to Secretary of State for Education Justine Greening MP calling on her to intervene to halt the shocking decline of library provision and the numbers of qualified librarians in state-funded schools and colleges in England.

Over 150 authors, educators and many other supporters of school and college libraries put their names to this letter urging the government to change their policy of leaving the decision to have school libraries up to individual heads as this clearly has not worked.

read the full letter here: School Libraries SOS

Love Your School Library Service Day

Books in Your Classroom

Download (PDF, 249KB)

Curriculum Resources

Download (PDF, 901KB)

Access to a Library Management System

Download (PDF, 236KB)

The School Library Award (accredited by ASCEL, SLG and SLA)

Download (PDF, 206KB)

Setting Up Your School Library

Download (PDF, 864KB)

Dear Justine: School Libraries Need Your Help!

Dear Ms Greening

I write to you today out of desperation, English teens are the most illiterate in the developed world


Does this frighten you? To be honest it terrifies me! We have a group of young people poised to enter the job market and they are at best barely functionally literate.

In my years as a Public & Youth Services Librarian I have worked with young people that were barely able to read The Cat in the Hat. Since 2011 when austerity measures were enacted in the UK and my post in the public library service was cut I have worked as a School Librarian.

Since then I have been concerned that School Libraries and Librarians are not statutory – not because I am worried about job security (well maybe a little) but because studies show that School Libraries have a positive impact on student learning and development.


Our latest research review shows that school libraries have a positive impact on all areas of pupils’ learning, including the development of reading and writing skills, their self-esteem and their overall academic attainment.(Literacy Trust)

In 2014 the Libraries APPG recognises that School Libraries should be looked at during Ofsted inspections:

As many School Librarians are solo workers we regularly speak to each other via e-mail and social media and lately what I have heard from friends and colleagues across the country fills me with a growing sense of disquiet, Library staff having to purchase books using their own funds as their budgets have been slashed to zero, parent volunteers freely giving their time in school libraries after professional staff have been let go only to see their efforts fall apart as the school has no-one to promote library use.

The purpose of this e-mail is to implore you to revisit the stance that the heads of schools should determine whether or not to employ a school librarian or even have a school library.

If required I can send you more evidence or put you in touch with other professional organisations that can provide even more information on what School Libraries and Librarians can and do offer to enable learners to reach their full potential.

Warmest regards

Matt Imrie
Librarian & Editor: Teen Librarian

Plagiarism for Executives: a Guide

Plagiarism is defined as:
The practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own.
New Oxford Dictionary of English

These are all examples of plagiarism:

  • Copying text & images from a website, film or book and passing them off as your own work
  • Paraphrasing text and not citing the original source
  • Handing in a previously submitted piece of work from another subject
  • Copying the work of others
    Avoiding plagiarism

  • Plan your work
  • Use multiple sources
  • Take notes by paraphrasing & summarising
  • If you use exact words & phrases use “quotation marks”
  • Do not copy & paste from the internet – read and then make notes without looking at the screen
  • Do not copy work from anyone (but especially not well-known creators)
    Unconscious Plagiarism
    Cryptomnesia (hidden memory) occurs when a forgotten memory returns without it being recognized as such by the subject, who believes it is something new and original.

    Examples of Creative Plagiarism

  • Shia LaBoeuf copying almost word for word and scene by scene Daniel Clowes’ comic strip Justin M. Damiano and creating a short movie called Howard
  • Melania trump plagiarising Michelle Obama’s speech (
  • Beyonce has been accused of plagiarising lesser-known artists over the course of her career (
  • When George Harrison released My Sweet Lord in 1969 he (perhaps inadvertently) copied the melody for He’s So Fine by the Chiffons. While the judge ruled that the plagiarism was accidental George was still liable for half a million dollars in royalties.
  • #TeenLibrarian Monthly November 2017

    Download (PDF, Unknown)

    When you don’t like the story the world is telling you, tell a different story.

    50 leading authors and illustrators have come together to produce a crowd-funded collection of stories, poetry and artwork with all profits going to UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency.

    Alt-Write: creative reactions to uncertain times is a collection of new previously unpublished stories*, poems and illustrations from leading names in the children’s book world.

    The past year has delivered a tumultuous series of world events that has left people reeling. Authors and illustrators asked themselves what they could do to help and the answer was to do what we do best, to write and draw and create.

    When you don’t like the story the world is telling, tell a different story.

    Our role is to debunk xenophobic myths and make people think, help them discover the natural human quality of empathy.
    Alan Gibbons, author

    It’s wonderful that so many great literary voices are contributing their creativity and compassion to this project, and showing that they stand with refugees
    Laura Padoan, a spokesperson for UNHCR.

    Contributors to this new collection include

  • Carnegie award-winning author Frank Cottrell Boyce
  • Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy
  • Scottish Makar and Guardian-award winning poet Jackie Kay
  • Winner of the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize for Older Children 2017 and The Bookseller prize, Patrice Lawrence
  • Rising star and multiple award winning illustrator Sarah McIntyre
  • Carnegie and Guardian prize winning novelist Susan Price
  • Former Children’s Laureate and three-times winner of the Kate Greenaway award, Chris Riddell
  • Celebrated poet and former Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen.
  • Best-selling illustrator Nick Sharratt
  • Guardian prize winning novelist and poet, Alex Wheatle the Brixton Bard
  • Winner of a World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement, Jane Yolen
  • And a host of other leading, award-winning and talented authors and illustrators
    In the first week of our campaign

  • 8 of our authors have been nominated for this year’s Carnegie award and 1 for the Greenaway award. They are: Alan Gibbons, Mary Hoffman, Patrice Lawrence, Tanya Landman, Irfan Master, Michael Rosen, Chris Priestley, Alex Wheatle and Jane Ray.
  • Neil Gaiman and Cory Doctorow have both tweeted about the book
  • 2 of our illustrators (Chris Riddell and John Shelley) have been nominated for the Astrid Lingren Memorial Award
    What’s new

  • Original Jane Ray artwork as a crowd-funding reward.
  • Promotional video from Alex Wheatle reading his hard-hitting new poem And I Still Hear Nina Singing Mississipi Goddam
    The #altwrite team
    Editors Mary Hoffman and Rhiannon Lassiter are a mother and daughter team with a proven track record in publishing. In 2003 they co-edited Lines in the Sand: New writing on war and peace published by Frances Lincoln in the UK and The Disinformation Press in the US. All the contributors’ royalties and the publishers’ profits went to UNICEF’s emergency appeal for the children of Iraq.
    Campaign page on IndieGoGo:

  • What is up with World Book Day Limited?

    World Book Day Limited is a registered charity in the UK (charity no. 1079257)

    According to the Charity Commission, the object of the Charity is to advance the education of the public, particularly by assisting in the promotion of reading among children and young people. The Charity will particularly promote World Book Day, which shall comprise a series of events each year, or any other such event, the purpose of which is to promote and encourage reading among children and young people

    Indeed WBD Ltd claims that: World Book Day is a celebration! It’s a celebration of authors, illustrators, books and (most importantly) it’s a celebration of reading. In fact, it’s the biggest celebration of its kind, designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading, and marked in over 100 countries all over the world.

    Over the years I have been a massive fan and supporter of the work undertaken by WBD, giving all children and young people the opportunity to own a book they can choose themselves. I was disappointed in the lack of writers of BAME heritage for the 20th anniversary this year but the selection of titles was accessible for readers from toddlers to teens with a range of genres to appeal to most tastes.

    The 2018 list by comparison is sadly lacking; the preponderance of celebrity authors on the list has attracted criticism from authors, librarians and other observers. The abundance of humour texts comes at the expense of other genres and there is only one non-fiction title. Add to this the complete lack of YA titles and, despite protestations from WBD Ltd that “news about the YA list would be made public in coming weeks”, we have heard and seen nothing.

    One may argue that children and young people are still able choose one of the WBD Ltd Books with their book token, and, if none of the books take their fancy they can put the token towards purchasing a full-price book of their choice. This argument is specious as it excludes children from families living in poverty and teens who, as they currently have nothing to choose from, may be forced to look towards the shelves of full-priced books. Many young readers are not able to afford a full-price title, even one with a £1 book token discount.

    There were 3.9 million children living in poverty in the UK in 2014-15. That’s 28 per cent of children, or 9 in a classroom of 30. [source:] and this number is projected to rise by 2020 [same source]

    Returning to the claim that World Book Day is a celebration of authors, illustrators, books… and reading, an interview from 2014 that the American Booksellers Association held with Tim Godfray of the Booksellers Association of the UK and Ireland makes for interesting reading.

    One of the questions:

    BTW: What are some of the marketing or advertising activities underway in the U.K. to promote bricks-and-mortar bookstores to consumers? How successful has the Books Are My Bag campaign been?

    Garnered an interesting answer (excerpted from the full answer)

    TG: …One of our biggest promotions is World Book Day. One of our companies in the BA group prints 14 million special World Book Day book tokens. These are given to children through their schools and then the children take these World Book Day book tokens into the shops around World Book Day and they can exchange the token either for a free paperback book, which has been produced especially for the promotion by the publishers, or they can get a pound off virtually any purchase in the shop. It’s more powerful than just seeing an advertisement on a magazine page: it actually encourages children with their parents to go physically into a bookshop. World Book Day has been for us a really, really significant success.

    So rather than a celebration as claimed, it is quite blatant that Booksellers are using World Book Day as a marketing ploy to get people into bookshops (anyone that has innocently asked if it is possible for bookstores to come into schools on the day with a selection of WBD Ltd Books will already know this of course).

    Now I have no problem with booksellers trying to stem the destruction caused by the rampant growth of online retailers, but the organisers of World Book Day Ltd. need to make a decision:

  • either they admit that they are merely a marketing tool for increasing sales in bookshops and are putting their focus on young readers who have parents/carers that will bring them to bookshops to get a WBD Ltd book or spend more on another book of choice

  • they step up to the plate as an organisation dedicated to celebrating authors, illustrators and reading for all children. If they are for all children they need to show this by including a choice of titles for older readers or a firm date when they will announce this. If this is not possible, they have to let observers know that something went wrong and no YA titles were ordered and that they will do better next year.
    Failure to do this and the current silence in the face of growing questions is damaging the WBD brand.

    You can view the mostly amazing lists of books published in support of World book Day from 2012 to 2018 courtesy of the Internet Archive here:

  • WBD Ltd 2012 Books:
  • WBD Ltd 2013 Books:
  • WBD Ltd 2014 Books:
  • WBD Ltd 2015 Books:
  • WBD Ltd 2016 Books:
  • WBD Ltd 2017 Books:
  • WBD Ltd 2018 Books:
  • DCMS Response to Are you there John, it is me Matt!

    On the 17th October I sent an e-mail to the Parliamentary Under Secretary for the DCMS John Glen. You can read it here:
    Are you there John it is me Matt!

    I have just received a response from a member of the Ministerial Support Team, they appear to have selectively answered parts and ignored other sections of my missive. I have redacted the name of the team member that responded on behalf of John Glen, but you can read the response in full below.

    Download (PDF, Unknown)