Author Archives: Mattlibrarian

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.

    Download (PDF, Unknown)

    Solo: a School Librarian Story

    The Third Degree… with Daniel Gray-Barnett


    Hi Daniel welcome to TeenLibrarian and thank you for giving up your time to undergo the third degree!

    Did/do you have your own Grandma Z? If not who inspired the character?

    I don’t have a Grandma Z, but I do have 3 grandmothers, each of who inspired the character in their own little way. I’ve always been drawn to strong, female characters with a lot of personality and Grandma Z insisted that that was how she would be too.

    Are any parts of the story based on personal experiences?

    Yes! Some of the things they do and places they go are based on real things that I have done, or at the very least would like to do. Did you know there is an Enchanted Rock in Texas? I climbed it a couple of years ago. The Big Dipper is also the name of the first rollercoaster I ever went on.

    I loved the artwork in the book – how many implements did you use in its creation?

    Thanks! I used several tools. I use a variety of Chinese brushes with black ink which are great for linework up to big, rough textures. I also use 3B pencils. When it comes to the digital part, I use a scanner, Wacom tablet and Photoshop for cleaning up, arranging and colouring the artwork.

    Was the colour palette you used a conscious decision or did it come about through experimentation?

    It was a conscious decision. I think Grandma Z’s character was the first thing to pop into my head – a flame-haired, slightly scary character in a bright blue coat. I love using limited colour palettes in my work so it was a great challenge to see how far I could take it with the book.

    How long did Grandma Z take from conception to completion?

    About 18 months. It was written over 12 months and then it was a very busy 6 months to finish and hand in the art. It sounds like a long time but when you’ve got other projects, work, a partner and life in general throwing distractions in your way, it can be hard to finish!

    Is there anything in the creative process that you would do differently for your next book?

    I think if the next book ends up not being the next Grandma Z instalment, it will use more colours. Though if it is the sequel to Grandma Z, I’m wondering whether it will still use the same colour palette.

    I’d probably try and procrastinate a little less and have some more solid time devoted to working on this book too. My first book was done whilst I was working part-time and busy with other jobs, but I recently moved to a rural town in Tasmania, which is beautiful and peaceful and allows me a lot more time to focus on my work. I’m hoping that here I can be a bit more productive!

    What are you currently reading and who would you recommend it to?

    I just bought Abner Graboff’s What Can Cats Do? He’s one of my illustration heroes and I’ve spent a lot of time looking lovingly at the illustrations from this book. He did a lot of wonderful work in the 1960’s. This book was originally called A Fresh Look At Cats but has been republished this year. I literally jumped for joy when I saw it in the book shop. It’s a great picture book for younger readers and has a lot of humour.

    As far as other books go, I’m in between books but just finished Flames by Robbie Arnott. He’s also from Tasmania and his book is set in Tasmania – one full of magical realism and mythology. It’s a story about death, gods, grief and nature. I loved it. I think it really captures a lot about this place I’m living in now. If you enjoy contemporary fiction, I’d definitely recommend it.

    Do you ever visit schools or libraries (or would you consider it)? If you do what is the best way to get in touch with you to organise a visit?

    Yes! I’d definitely consider it. You can always send me an email at dan@danielgraybarnett.com

    I’d love to hear from any fans, whether it’s to share any work, stories, illustrations or just to say hello.

    Grandma Z by Daniel Gray-Barnett is published by Scribe Publications and is available now

    Public Libraries, the Home Office, UKSCL (now Libraries Connected), visas, CILIP and Me

    43 days ago The Society of Chief Librarians (now a charity known as Libraries Connected) posted a tweet about their assisted digital contract deal with the UK Home Office.

    This came as a huge surprise to almost everybody in the UK Library world, from CILIP down to Library Workers on the front-lines of public library services.

    I took it upon myself to request further information from the Home Office and sent them this e-mail:

    Public Libraries & Visas and Immigration

    editor@teenlibrarian.co.uk 18/05/18 (17:16:48 BST)click to expand contents

    (G)ood afternoon

    I have just discovered that the Home Office is working with a number of UK Public Libraries to offer assistance with Visas and Immigration.

    I have a number of questions, namely:

    • How will this work practically (& ethically)?
    • Will library staff be given training in helping people needing assistance?
    • What safeguards are being put in place to safeguard sensitive information?
    • Will people coming in for assistance be given the privacy they need to discuss their immigration and visa requirements or will they be assisted in the library itself?
    • Will this service be limited to Libraries that still fall under the local authority or will it also be made available in volunteer-run libraries?
    • Will Home Office staff be on hand to assist with information if required?
    • Is the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals involved in any way?
    • If it is, how is the Home Office working with them?
    • If it is not, why has the UK’s Library & Information Association been excluded?
    • Were they (CILIP) offered the chance to become involved?

    I look forward to hearing from you in due course!

    Sincerely
    Matt Imrie
    Editor: TeenLibrarian

    I received a response tellming me that my message had been logged and that they aimed to provide a response within 20 working days.

    From: Public Enquiries (CD) <Public.Enquiries@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk> Date: Fri, May 18, 2018 at 5:16 PM
    Subject: Home Office Automated Response
    To: “editor@teenlibrarian.co.uk” <editor@teenlibrarian.co.uk>

    Thank you for contacting the Home Office.

    Your message has been logged.

    We aim to provide a response within 20 working days.

    **********************************************************************
    This email and any files transmitted with it are private and intended
    solely for the use of the individual or entity to whom they are addressed.
    If you have received this email in error please return it to the address
    it came from telling them it is not for you and then delete it from your
    system.
    This email message has been swept for computer viruses.

    **********************************************************************

    **********************************************************************

    This was 30 working days ago. I have been patient, knowing that in my previous correspondences with government departments that replies can sometimes be a bit late or bang on the 20 days limit.

    I have been poking around while I have been waiting, and did you know that Ayub Khan MBE the current CILIP President, was on the SCL Board during this time as Digital Offer lead (source: http://goscl.com/scl-welcomes-new-board-of-trustees/)

    I have a question for CILIP here: a few years ago I was considering putting myself forward as a candidate for the Presidency, I had just finished my time as CKG judge and was stepping down from the YLG London Committee. I ended up not going for it as due to my workplace commitments felt that I would not be able to fulfil the role properly.

    I did however do my due diligence and read up on all the requirements for being President, and one of them being is that the person taking the post is not supposed to chair special interest groups or do anything that may show bias towards another organisation. Mr Khan was a trustee of SCL (and is still a trustee for Libraries Connected) and their Digital Offer lead – how was it that the President could have been involved with an organisation and not informed CILIP as to what they were planning with regard to the Home Office and the digital service contract?

    Is this not in contravention of one of the requirements of the presidency?

    Earlier today CILIP published this clarification on the role of CILIP Board members and Presidential team

    Coda: If anyone from the Home Office reads this – I would still really like a response to my email, thank you!

    The Pod(y) in the Library

    Podcasting is something that all the cool Librarians seem to be doing these days. So seeing as I am busy packing up my life to emigrate abroad (again) I thought I would use my shelving time to test out the Anchor podcasting app.

    So may I proudly present my very first podcast: