Monthly Archives: January 2018

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Do Librarians Hate Volunteers?

I write this as I have been noticing an increase in accusations of hatred made against Librarians by Volunteer Library organisations recently, I have had this charge levelled against myself and several of my peers and friends have experienced this as well.

so in answer to the question Do Librarians Hate Volunteers?

The short answer: No!

The longer answer:

Volunteers have formed an essential part of the library ecosystem for years now, working alongside librarians and library workers, volunteers assist with programmes that would be difficult if not impossible to run without their involvement. Library staff appreciate the work done by volunteers in libraries and continue to do so.

Where librarians and activists have a problem is local authorities off-loading library provision on community volunteers as this is cheating the people they work for, as public libraries are a statutory service and are paid for through taxes – basically volunteers are forced into running for a service they have already paid for and while some volunteer libraries still fall under the aegis of the local authority and are able to give the library users access to online information provision and catalogue use, many others do not -effectively robbing the people in the library catchment area of a service they already pay for.

Volunteer libraries also create what amounts to a postcode lottery, depriving poorer communities of a library as many people are already making a choice between eating or the heating often cannot stretch themselves to volunteering.

We do not want to close any libraries but once a public library has been cut off from the local authority and handed over to volunteer organisations it is lost, as once austerity is done there is little chance that councils will have the will to reopen libraries or take back ones they have already given away.

It is important for areas that have community-groups that support libraries to resist governmental moves to close libraries as this sends the message that the amateurisation of the service is not a viable solution, a number of councils in the face of sustained campaigning have retained their libraries.

There is also concern about the long-term sustainability of volunteer-run libraries, this is not a criticism but rather a serious question as to what will happen after five or 10 years of constant fund-raising and soliciting donations which may lead to giving fatigue this also dovetails with my previous point about communities being double-charged for a service they have already paid for.

The Wikipedia Library One Librarian One Reference Project 2018 #1Lib1Ref

Starting today and running until 3rd February, Wikipedia is hoping to entice Librarians into helping them make their online encyclopaedia more accurate by adding one reference to an article to help it become more reliable then adding #1Lib1Ref in the edit summary to help them track participation.

How to Participate: Five Basic Steps

  • Find an article that needs a citation. There are many ways to do this. Here are some strategies.
  • Filling a “Citation Needed” using Citation Hunt
  • Finding an article with sourcing problems
  • Select an article while browsing
  • Cite a source from your collection or research
  • Find a reliable source that can support that article
  • Add a citation using Wikipedia Style. Click here to learn about adding citations and editing Wikipedia
  • Add the project hashtag #1Lib1Ref in the Wikipedia Edit Summary
  • Share your edit on social media and learn more about libraries and Wikipedia. Grab a userbox for your user page if you’re into that sort of thing.
  • For full details, links to start pages and more information visit: to sign up and help them out!

    Coram Voice’s creative writing competition for children in care and young care leavers returns #Voices2018

    Coram Voice is excited to announce the return of ‘Voices’, its national writing competition for children in care and young care leavers, for a third year running. The competition is open for entries until 8 February 2018.

    Coram Voice, a charity that provides a range of services for children and young people in and around the care system, first launched the competition in 2016 as a platform for care-experienced young people to express their creative talents and to celebrate their voices.

    Research conducted with previous Voices shortlisted entrants found that participation in the competition had inspired them to write more, allowed them to be recognised for their talents and for some, even helped them to come to terms with being in care.

    The theme of this year’s competition is Who or What Makes You Proud and entries can be submitted online at in any written form including poems, short stories, raps and newspaper articles with a 500 word limit. The competition is grouped in four age categories: primary school, lower secondary school (age 11-14), upper secondary school (age 15-18) and care leavers.

    The entries for Voices 2018 will be judged by a panel of experts, each with personal experience of, or a special interest in the care system including:

  • Jackie Long, Social Affairs Editor for Channel 4 News
  • Lucy Spraggan, singer-songwriter, and newly approved foster carer
  • Ashley John-Baptiste, BBC reporter and producer
  • Jenny Molloy, author of ‘Hackney Child’
  • Mr Gee, spoken word artist
  • Lola Jaye, author of ‘Orphan Sisters’
  • Lisa Cherry, author of ‘The Brightness of Stars’
  • Dreadlock Alien, slam and performance poet
  • The winner of each category will receive a tablet and £100 shopping vouchers, and will be announced by the judges at an awards ceremony in London on 9 April 2018.

    One of the judges, Lola Jaye commented: I know that storytelling is one of the most powerful ways we can understand each other’s unique experiences. That’s why I am so pleased to judge Voices 2018, a competition that amplifies the voices of young people in the care system and gives them a platform to tell the world their stories. I can’t wait to read what they produce and celebrate their achievements.

    One young person who previously entered Voices said: The competition is a safe opportunity to share your personal story – it’s a wonderful way to embrace your history and yourself” and another added “to put what you feel on a piece of paper is quite therapeutic.

    Another previous entrant commented: It can be the start of a journey… it opens up new opportunities and also shows people the potential you have.

    Voices 2018 is open for entries until 8 February 2018. For more information about the competition and how to enter, please visit

    Reading Poster

    Click on the image to download an A3 .pdf copy of the poster

    The Wilbur & Niso Smith Foundation 2018 Adventure Writing Prize

    Adventure is a broad genre and thrillers, crime, historical fiction or fantasy novels are often also adventure stories. With prizes from £1,500 – £15,000 and categories for young people to published authors, it’s an opportunity not to be missed.

    Published Novel | Prize: £15,000

    Novels must be published between 1st January 2017 and 30th April 2018. Proof copies are accepted.

    Unpublished Manuscript | Prize: £7,500 Writer’s Adventure Research Award and guidance from Wilbur’s literary agents

    Novels must be 50,000+ words in length and authors not represented by a literary agent. Self-published books are eligible.

    Author of Tomorrow – short stories by writers aged 21 years and under | Prize: £1,500 and digital publication

    Entrants must be aged 21 years and under at time of submission. Stories must be between 1,500 and 5,000 words.

    Deadline for submissions: 12th March 2018

    Full details are available on our website at:

    Poster Pack: The Dangers of Irresponsible Social Media Use

    With Toby Young having made the headlines again for all the wrong reasons I thought that a series of posters that highlight the perils of irresponsible social media use may be of interest to Librarians that work with young people. These posters can be downloaded by clicking on the images below:

    Opinion: #WorldBookDay YA Book Selection

    Well the World Book Day YA books have been announced on the WBD site and via their twitter account. I was rather excited at the news until I read that the five full-length novels have a price of £2.50, or £1.50 with a World Book Day token.

    What I have loved about World Book Day in the past is that it has offered all young people the opportunity to visit a book shop and choose a book that they can take home and keep forever. It feels discriminatory requiring older readers to pay anything when the younger ones are able to choose a WBD Book for free.

    It will also limit the celebration of reading to those young people who can afford to go the bookshop or have parents/guardians that are proactive in getting them to read or at the very least to own books of their own.

    I may be completely off-base here, but it appears (to me) that the organisers of World Book Day omitted the YA selection when they were putting the 2018 WBD selection together, were blind-sided by the outcry and cut a deal with publishers to offer some (truly excellent) YA novels as World Book Day books at as low a cost as they were able.

    I know that the YA titles are fantastic, full novels, but many young people will balk at going in to a bookshop knowing that they will have to pay, either from the shame of being unable to afford even the nominal £1.50 or at the thought of having to pay at all.

    In the past I have always considered the World Book Day tokens and celebrations on and around the day as one of the key weapons in my arsenal in the fight to get and keep young people reading. This year it appears that WBD will be of limited use with my older reluctant readers – and that is a crying shame!

    A Change is Gonna Come: Review by Alison Tarrant

    This is a collection of short stories and poetry by various authors, all of whom come from diverse backgrounds. There is a real range of characters, stories and settings here, but they were all a delight to read – though delight is not what I felt when reading.

    The stories enclosed in this book are powerful experiences – Dear Asha by Mary Bello had me crying into my tea on a lunch break, Hackney Moon by Tanya Bryne is the story of first love and relationships with a brilliant ending that definitely had me reacting (but I won’t say how for fear of spoiling it!). Meanwhile Clean Sweep by Patrice Lawrence and We Who? by Nikesh Shukla talk about incredibly important themes in the current world – punishment, reality dramas, and the media while all the time being focused on the human impact – love, friendship, neglect, bullying and control.

    The different stories chart the lives of young people in the UK, America and Nigeria, in refugee camps, and homes, and schools. It represents the world that I know exists, and that so often is lacking from fiction, particularly YA.

    The foreword by Darren Chetty is powerfully written, and as an expression of hope and intent the book delivers exactly what it sets out to.

    This is brilliantly followed by the poem by Musa Okwonga – The Elders on the Wall: “My choices are two:/Either I stand here,/Chip away at each brick,/Or… turn and run…” I think we all need to chip at the wall a little harder, and as a starting point I’d recommend you read this book, buy this book, borrow this book.

    Then, ask publishers for more.

    A Change is Gonna Come is published by Stripes Publishing and is out now