Monthly Archives: January 2018

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From Beowulf to Chaucer, the British Library makes 1,000 years of rich literary history freely available online

The British Library has made over 50 rare medieval manuscripts and early print editions, spanning 1,000 years of literary history, available for free on its Discovering Literature website.

Highlights include:

  • The single surviving manuscript of Beowulf, the longest epic poem in Old English
  • The earliest autobiography in English, The Book of Margery Kempe
  • The Wycliffite Bible, the first complete translation of the Bible in the English language
  • William Caxton’s pioneering illustrated print edition of The Canterbury Tales
  • The first work authored by a woman in English, Julian of Norwich’s Revelations of Divine Love
  • The earliest work of theatre criticism in English, Tretise of Miraclis Pleyinge
  • One of the greatest collections of Scottish medieval verse, the Bannatyne Manuscript from the National Library of Scotland
  • Bringing together over 50 unique medieval manuscripts and early print editions from the 8th to 16th centuries, Discovering Literature: Medieval presents a new way to explore some of the earliest works and most influential figures of English literature. From the first complete translation of the Bible in the English language to the first work authored by a woman in English, the website showcases many rarities and ‘firsts’ in the history of English literature.

    Celebrating British Authors during LGBT History Month

    February in the UK is LGBT History Month.

    To celebrate in my Library I have been working on a display celebrating British LGBT Authors both classic and modern. If any colleagues would like to make use of the display materials I have been working on, you may download them below. More pieces will be added as they are completed.

    Virginia Woolf Poster

    Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp Blog Tour

    Before I Let Go is set in the literal middle of nowhere. What was the reason(s) behind this?

    I wanted Lost to be lost. I wanted it to be its own insular universe, for better and for worse. That allowed me to delve deep into the collective psyche of Lost, without interference from the outside world. Small, tightknit communities can be wondrous places, and I love exploring their positive sides. But with Before I Let Go, I also wondered what would happened if I flipped that and focused on what would happened if an entire community fell under the thrall of a girl who really only wanted to be seen and heard. Moving Lost far from the rest of the world allowed me to do that.

    Plus, there is something magical about snowy landscapes, isn’t there? Anything can happen in the woods.

    Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp is published by Sourcebooks on 23/01/18.

    GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment on this post to win a copy of Before I Go.
    The winner’s name will be pulled from a hat on the 1st February

    Young, Gifted and Black

    To Be Young, Gifted and Black is an amazing song by Nina Simone & Weldon Irvine, it was written to commemorate Nina’s friend, Lorraine Hansberry, author of the play A Raisin in the Sun, who had died in 1965 aged 34. It became an anthem for the Civil Rights Movement.

    The book Young, Gifted and Black, written by Jamia Wilson and illustrated by Andrea Pippins is, as the introduction says a love letter to our ancestors and the next generation of black change-makers

    Celebrating 52 black heroes both contemporary and historical this book is beautiful to behold and to hold and is an essential addition to every library. With luminaries including Oscar-nominated director Ava DuVernay, Nobel Peace-Prize winning president Nelson Mandela (my personal favourite – it was an honour to be able to vote for him in the first free and fair elections in my homeland) who was able to unite a divided and fractured country without violence or hatred; sisters Venus and Serena Williams two titans of Tennis, environmental activist Wangari Maathai, award-winning author Malorie Blackman, Harriet Tubman – one of the best-known conductors of the Underground railroad and so many more!

    There are 52 people celebrated in this book, one for every week of the year if you want to turn it into the centrepiece of a rotating library display. Some known to me but many not. NO I tell a lie! There are 54 people celebrated in this book – the author Jamia Wilson writer, director and publisher of the Feminist Press who has introduced me to people whose lives cause ripples today in our world and artist Andrea Pippins whose work shines on every page; they too deserve recognition for this work of biographical art they have created together.

    In a world dominated by white privilege this book is a brilliant new addition to an arsenal of education about the stars of our multi-cultural world who are so often ignored or airbrushed out of history.

    Library Freeconomics

    This post is an adaptation of a training workshop I gave last year for the SLG based on my experiences of working with low to no budgets forcing me to improvise and find alternate ways to gain skills, experience and books and other useful materials.

    Getting free stuff or your library may seem like a pipe dream, for as people have been saying since the 19th century There is no such thing as a free lunch – this is true, but not universally so.

    Ideas, co-operation and assistance:

    One of the misconceptions when it comes to obtaining free stuff is thinking in tangible terms. While they are essential, it is impossible to overstate how important advice, ideas and guidance can be. With training courses getting more expensive and out of reach of library staff that cannot be released or afford courses being aware of networks of colleagues where you can pick the collective brain and share your own experiences with others.

    The largest group for School Librarians is the School Librarian Network, started by Elizabeth Bentley, this is a mailing list of librarians who offer experience, support and a place to chat and vent if needed:

    The Heart of the School is a website set up and run by Caroline Roche to celebrate and showcase the work of school librarians in the UK. The site is a rich mix of examples of best practice and ideas that can be used and adapted by librarians across the country:

    Lastly my own site Teen Librarian is a mix of ideas and programmes that can be used in school and public libraries as well as an array of downloadable content that can be freely used and adapted, from card games to posters and lesson plans. You are here now so once you have finished reading this incredibly interesting post take the time to rifle through my archives and see what takes your fancy!

    Looking Online

    Project Gutenberg

    With the near ubiquity of smart phone use among students and a range of apps that enable smart phone owners to read e-books on the go Project Gutenberg is a veritable goldmine of over 53 000 public domain books that can freely and (more importantly) legally be downloaded in a variety of formats, including .azw (Kindle), .epub (all other e-book readers), pdf and html for (online reading).
    These books can also be read on tablets, computers and dedicated e-book readers.


    Librivox exists to make all books in the public domain available, for free, in audio format on the internet.

    Free Posters

    Latest Free Stuff is a website that catalogues free materials from a variety of sources, one of their sub-sections deals with posters. It is always worth going through what they have as the posters are a mix of educational and public interest.

    The Secret Book Company Poster Freebies:

    Bloggers & Blogging

    Make friends with local book bloggers as they sometimes look to give away excess books to local schools and libraries.

    A quick note on request etiquette (this is important): it is incredibly bad form to contact authors and publishers out of the blue to ask for free books for your library. Authors are almost universally sympathetic to the aims of school and public libraries but their stock of books is not infinite. Writing is a career that for most does not pay incredibly well plus you will make them feel guilty for saying no and even if they want to help, they may not be able to. It is the same for publishers, publishing is a business and a business that gives away its product will not be around for long.

    If you wish to approach publishers and publicists you should think of it as a transaction, why not start your own review blog or work with students in your reading groups to review books and post reviews on a school reading blog. Publishers do lookout for perspectives from teenagers about the books they publish.

    It is a good rule of thumb to not ask for more books that you or your group can reliably review in good time.

    Blog platforms


    Entering competitions is a good way to acquire new books for your library, some competitions (particularly on twitter) are rapid fire not giving you much time to enter but not all of them are like that. Some give you a day or days to enter or provide links to sites such as rafflecopter where you are able to enter. Most social media sites are used by authors and publishers to run competitions, the most popular are below:

    Some publishers run giveaways in their monthly/weekly email newsletters. If you are a member of CILIP then you can sign up for membership with the Youth Libraries Group – their monthly newsletter has some of the best giveaways I have ever seen.

    With regard to social media giveaways (particularly twitter) it is considered bad form in some quarters to run a competition account – basically having it solely for giveaways and competitions. I have found (with twitter) that the friendships I have made, the links I have built and networking opportunities I have gained far outweigh the competitions I have won (but I will not deny they have been really good).

    The UK Library Freecycle group is still very new but over time will grow into a clearing house for librarians and libraries looking to get rid of things that others will have a use for.

    All the World’s a Story: the CILIP School Libraries Group Conference

    CILIP’s SLG the School Libraries Group has organised their National conference to take place from the 27th to the 29th April.

    To find out what is on the programme and to download a booking form visit the SLG blog here:

    All the World’s a Story: the CILIP School Libraries Group Conference 2018

    Mobile Library Library Mobile

    Just over two years ago I created a Mobile Library Library Mobile for my daughter’s bedroom, I always meant to make it available on here but with one thing and another I never got round to doing that. Today that has changed, you may now download the mobile below the two pics of the original in action.

    This is an A3 version and is slightly changed from the original design. Early tests showed that while creating a mobile using standard photocopy paper is doable, for a more long-lasting version card works better. Please feel free to add additional library-related things to hang from the mobile and if you do please feel free to share pictures.

    Download (PDF, 669KB)

    Teen Librarian Monthly January 2018

    Download (PDF, 666KB)

    Cliff McNish’s Creative Writing Guides

    Best-selling author Cliff McNish contacted me in November last year offering free downloads of his creative writing guides for readers of TeenLibrarian. I decided to hold on to them until January as I did not want them to get lost in the run up to Christmas.

    So if you work with young people who love writing then download these and use them to spur the best-selling authors of tomorrow on ot new heights of creative excellence!

    Download (PDF, 318KB)

    Download (PDF, 315KB)

    Download (PDF, 484KB)

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    Download (PDF, 801KB)

    Download (PDF, 350KB)