Author Archives: Matt Imrie

Teen Librarian Monthly December 2018

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Event Calendar

Looking for an event to create a display around in your Library? Why not check out the events calendar (below), it is a work in progress so if your favourite day (holy, hedoninstic or just hilarious) is missing pleas let me know so I can add it

An object lesson on social media use and misuse

This is a good example of the use and misuse of twitter that can be used in a lesson on social media for users of all ages.

Tomi Adeyemi has written a brilliant book called The Children of Blood and Bone

Nora Roberts’ new book is titled Of Blood and Bone

Tomi publicly accused Nora of plagiarism on Twitter due to the similarity of the titles:

This led to the usual mob pile on of fans calling Nora out on multiple platforms; who reached out to Tomi to try and smooth over the trouble that was erupting.

Tomi then tweeted an apology and explanation to calm her fans:

However, she left the original tweet up, which has kept the hate cycle rolling.

Requests from Nora’s side to have the tweet taken down have, so far, remained unanswered.

Nora then wrote this post on her blog: Mob Rule By Social Media

This post gives a brilliant insight to what people under attack online can experience. It can also be used to discuss plagiarism, how the publishing industry works and also (and very importantly) online bullying as well as the importance of having all your facts in order before attacking someone publicly.

Nora and Tomi are both amazing writers, one with 30+ years experience and the other a first-time author, this contretemps seems to have soured views in both fan camps which may lead to many people not experiencing the wonderful work both authors have produced.

Fan is short for fanatic and sometimes the fanaticism comes to the fore and events can occur that damage fandoms, publishing and book lovers are not immune to this, as this event shows.

We Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix


In the 1990s, heavy metal band Dürt Würk was poised for breakout success — but then lead singer Terry Hunt embarked on a solo career and rocketed to stardom as Koffin, leaving his fellow bandmates to rot in rural Pennsylvania.

Two decades later, former guitarist Kris Pulaski works as the night manager of a Best Western – she’s tired, broke, and unhappy. Everything changes when she discovers a shocking secret from her heavy metal past: Turns out that Terry’s meteoric rise to success may have come at the price of Kris’s very soul.

With We Sold our Souls Grady Hendrix has forced his way into a *very* short list of authors for whom I will drop whatever I am reading to read whenever a new book comes out!

We Sold Our Souls is the most metal book I have ever read! It is a completely mad road trip of a novel with chapter titles ripped from the albums of the greatest metal bands that bestride the earth, Kris Pulaski is an awesome, if slightly worn (but not broken) protagonist that I found impossible not to root for.

Metal Never Retreats.

With the world and all the power of a mighty media machine set against her, she sets off to confront her nemesis and reclaim what is rightfully hers. Losing friends, and finding compatriots set against her she refuses to give up; even at the possible cost of her sanity.

Metal Never Surrenders.

With only one doubtful ally at her side (who may be more damaged and paranoid than she is) and unable to rely on fellow travelers, she sets off towards Hellstock ’19 and her destiny!

Metal Never Dies!

With enemies on all sides, no allies behind her and facing almost certain destruction ahead, Kris gets the band together one last time for an explosive finale that left my eyes ringing for hours after I had finished!

Grady Hendrix’s writing is so powerful that at one point I had to put down We Sold Our Souls and just breathe, as he had set off an attack of claustrophobia. It was in the chapter titled Sleep’s Holy Mountain as it brought back a memory of a time when crawling through Boomslang Cave that I thought I had become stuck, it only lasted for a moment but the memory of having a mountain pressing down against me has forever lurked in my subconscious.

When I finally turned the final page, I knew two things were true: Black Iron Mountain is real and I really, really want to hear Dürt Würk’s Troglodyte (three things if you count “it is better to burn out than sell out”).

For those about to read We Sold Our Souls I salute you!

We Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix published by Quirk Books, is available now from most book shops and many many fine libraries!

We Sold Our Souls is funny, dark, scary and you should definitely read it! Trust me I am a Librarian!

Day of the Dead Display Idea

If you saw the title of this post and thought “Wait a minute… wasn’t the Day of the Dead over a week ago?” Yes you are right, it was! I had this idea too late for his year but wanted to write about it as a reminder for next year (and to share it with readers of TeenLibrarian).

For those of you who do not know what the Day of the Dead is, here is an introduction:

…Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is not a Mexican version of Halloween. Though related, the two annual events differ greatly in traditions and tone. Whereas Halloween is a dark night of terror and mischief, Day of the Dead festivities unfold over two days in an explosion of color and life-affirming joy. Sure, the theme is death, but the point is to demonstrate love and respect for deceased family members. In towns and cities throughout Mexico, revelers don funky makeup and costumes, hold parades and parties, sing and dance, and make offerings to lost loved ones.
[source: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/destinations/north-america/mexico/top-ten-day-of-dead-mexico/]

Basically if you have seen The Book of Life


or Coco

you will have a basic understanding of what it is all about.

If you have not seen one or both of these films then take some time and watch them, they are beautiful and highly educational and thoroughly enjoyable for viewers of all ages.

For a deeper understanding of the Day of the Dead you can visit this resource page

My idea is rather than creating a display to educate passers-by (although this is not a bad idea to foster cultural awareness) you create an ofrenda celebrating favoured authors that have passed away.

Ofrenda: An ofrenda (Spanish: “offering”) is a collection of objects placed on a ritual display during the annual and traditionally Mexican Día de Muertos celebration.

My author display next year will feature Terry Pratchett, Ray Bradbury, Mary Shelley, Virginia Woolf, Robert Heinlein, Herge, Vita Sackville-West, Jane Austen, Jules Verne, Emily Brontë anda number of other writers I have loved.

For a great guide on how to set up an ofrenda, follow this link:

How To: La Ofrenda

Teen Librarian Monthly October

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The CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Medals: a change has come

Full disclosure: I am a member of CILIP and a former judge for the 2015 & 16 CILIP CKG Medals.

I knew it was coming, and was even expecting it, but what with some changes in my life and location, the announcement that the CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Awards Independent Diversity Review Final Report was published on Thursday 27th September still managed to catch me by surprise.

As an ardent fan (although not an uncritical one), follower and commentator of the Medals, I was excited to read the recommendations, but still approached them with a sense of trepidation; owing possibly to the sense of ownership I felt as a librarian and as a member of CILIP and the Youth Libraries Group. Nevertheless I shook off these feelings and approached the report with a cautious optimism and told myself that the Awards do not belong to me, that I know they are a living thing that can and have changed in the past and that change is good.

The ten recommendations made in the final report are:

  • Explicitly champion diversity through the Awards’ strategies, development plans and messages including a statement of a robust and proactive strategy for the Awards that clearly states a commitment to diversity and inclusion with clear vision, objectives, and positive action towards stated intended outcomes.
  • Recognise a diverse range of voices and perspectives in the nominations, longlist, shortlist and prize winners.
  • Expand the diversity profile of the judges by increasing the variety of backgrounds and lived-experiences amongst CILIP’s panel of librarian judges.
  • Establish an equality, diversity and inclusion advisory panel to accelerate the embedding of diversity and inclusion throughout the Awards.
  • Strengthen the diversity training that librarian judges receive to instil heightened awareness of diversity and inclusion and understanding of the impact of power dynamics, as well as acknowledgement of inevitable personal biases in all members of the panel.
  • Review the Awards criteria through an open and collaborative process that includes a diversity of perspectives and lived-experience. Consider the inclusion of criteria for innovation, shifting perceptions, or writing about different backgrounds and experience as indicators of quality and excellence.
  • Empower and celebrate the children and young people involved in the Awards through the shadowing scheme by giving them a significant voice and visible presence in the process and prize giving.
  • Strengthen the governance that supports the Awards’ strategic direction, calling on internal and external experts to lead the Awards through a sustainable change process over the short and long term.
  • Raise greater awareness of diverse books amongst librarians and identify opportunities for further championing of diversity with the library supply sector.
  • Increase outreach by opening up and amplifying the nominations process, discovering and recognising new and diverse talent and forging new partnerships.

  •  
    CILIP’s immediate actions are to:

  • Creating a new mission for the Awards: To inspire and empower the next generation to create a better world through books and reading.
  • Opening up the nominations process to external nominating bodies as well as librarians including BookTrust, CLPE, Commonword, IBBY, Inclusive Minds, National Literacy Trust and RNIB.
  • Creating a list of eligible books by diverse authors and illustrators, to raise awareness amongst CILIP members.
  • Expanding the judging panel to bring in a broader range of perspectives and experiences into the judging process.
  • Setting up an equality, diversity and inclusion advisory panel to bring greater representation and lived experience into the Awards process.
  • Providing judges with enhanced diversity training including coaching sessions, bias testing and guidance notes on identifying inclusion in children’s books.
  • Introducing a new children’s choice prize to be presented by participants of the Shadowing scheme at the June Awards ceremony.
  • Celebrating new and emerging talent though a quarterly publication of top 10 new voices eligible for the upcoming Medals.

  •  
    The recommendations and actions that give me a sense of joy and elation are that future Awards will include recognition from the Shadowing scheme, I and many other judges and observers over the years have asked for and pushed for this, or something like it to be included in the ceremony. The already excellent training that judges go through before they sit on the panel is to be improved with diversity training to assist judges in identifying bias and inclusion.

    I must admit to feeling a bit smug at being ahead of the curve when I read that CILIP is curating a list of eligible diverse books for the 2019 awards as that is something I was working on for the 2018 Awards; such lists are important, for, as I wrote then: I believe that it is possible for books to slip past fairly easily, due to the sheer volume of books published for children and young readers and the limits that publishers publicity departments face with regard to budget, many books are released with little or no official fanfare at all.

    Maintaining awareness of new books is an on-going struggle for library workers, this is made more difficult with services such as supplier selection which removes choice from staff in libraries; often popular titles and authors are purchased to the exclusion of new authors and illustrators or small and independent publishers. I will just say that many of my best sources of information about new and diverse books are librarians that I know personally and on-line as we are passionate about discovering new authors to enable us to put books in the hands of readers who will enjoy them.

    Allied with this is the inclusion of new nominating bodies, including IBBY, CLPE, Booktrust, Inclusive Minds, the RNIB, CommonWord and the National Literacy Trust. At first I was skeptical of opening nominations to outside organisations but after some reflection I have come to realise that the organisations involved are all allied in some way with CILIP and may catch and nominate diverse titles that are missed by librarian nominators.

    Expanding diversity and experience among the judging panel is a process that has already begun with judges being recruited from a wider pool within CILIP, the first judges recruited in this way will be judging the 2019 Medals.

    I am curious as to why the panel is being enlarged to 14 judges; in previous years judges have represented the 12 YLG regions in the UK. I am assuming that the extras will be chosen from the pool of applications for the original 12 places. An added point of concern is that it will place more pressure on finding judges, as I am aware that in the past filling slots on the panel has been a bit fraught due to a lack of available librarians. I wonder whether the extra judges be chosen in rotation from the different regions every two years in the interests of balance and equality?

    The call to review the awards criteria is one that I feel may be redundant, as the criteria are already regularly reviewed and updated when short-comings are discovered. The most recent example of this is the addition of the illustrator’s name to illustrated novels nominated for the Carnegie Medal in 2016 . I do however recognise that the explicit language used may be needed to inform those unaware of how the criteria are governed and updated.

    Adding an equality, diversity and inclusion advisory panel to the panel that already exists to advise and monitor the awards process can only assist the judges in their deliberations and making the strongest possible selections. I will watch with interest and look forward to discovering who will make up the panel.

    The championing of new voices is a great idea and one that will lead to a closer working relationship between CILIP and publishers & authors in the UK and abroad.

    The creation of a new mission for the CKG Awards firmly embeds the purpose of the awards and extends it to make them two of the most inclusive book awards, and not just for books and illustration for children and young people:

    Mission

    To inspire and empower the next generation to create a better world through books and reading.

    We will do this by:

  • Celebrating outstanding writing and illustration for children and young people.
  • Recognising a broad range of perspectives, experiences and voices.
  • Championing the power of librarians to connect children and young people with outstanding books that represent their identities and help them shape a better world.
  • Encouraging authors, illustrators and publishers to create more books for children and young people that reflect all identities and promote diversity.
  • Promoting a readership and market that values diversity, representation and inclusion in books for books for children and young people.
  • Challenging children and young people with a diversity of ideas and perspectives to promote empathy, tolerance and understanding.
  •  
    The CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Awards have been in existence for over 80 and 60 years respectively, and under the stewardship of the Youth Libraries Group and CILIP they have grown in prestige and awareness over the decades. I trust the stewards to do the right thing for the awards, to make them stronger and ever more inclusive; in supporting the judges as the work that they do grows ever harder with no end in sight to the growth in publishing for young people.

    I look forward to watching the awards progress in coming years, to see how the largest changes in over a generation affect them; but remain confident that it will be change for the better, as their defining purpose, the recognition of outstanding writing and illustration for children and young people, has not changed!

    Links

    CILIP post on the Final Report

    Independent Diversity Review: Final Report

    Bookseller article: CILIP makes changes at Carnegie and Kate Greenaway following diversity review

    Guardian article: Carnegie medal promises immediate action over lack of diversity

    #TeenLibrarian Monthly September 2018

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    TeenLibrarian Monthly July 2018

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    The Home Office responds to my e-mail about the SCL Visa Deal… except they don’t

    Well… 34 working days after I emailed the Home Office about their deal with the Society of Chief Librarians (now Libraries Connected) I have received a response.

    My original email can be read here and that is not the email they are responding to – they are responding to an email from me asking why they have not responded to my original email.

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