Author Archives: Mattlibrarian


So there is no easy to say it so I will just come out with it: in July this year my family and I will be moving to America to be closer to her family. We both live thousands of miles away from our homes (I come from South Africa originally) and after a protracted discussion we decided on the US of A.

I will be handing in my notice at school for the end of the school year and, well we are already mostly packed up and just need to organise shipping of treasured possessions (books mostly) and in July we will be shipping up to Boston (and thence to Kansas).

What does this mean for TeenLibrarian?

Well I plan to keep blogging about Libraries and Books but this may take on a more international flavour (I will refuse to drop my ‘u’s as that is just wrong), Teen Librarian Monthly may take a brief hiatus during the move and getting settled but I want disruption to be as minimal as possible.

If anyone is keen to submit articles for TLM and TL the blog please do get in touch.

What will I be doing over there?

I hope to continue my career in Libraries as I have not spent over half my life as a Librarian to just start doing something else, plus I love the work. That being said… I will not be precious about it and am fairly talented at a few things so will turn my hand at anything that comes my way!

Any American Library folk looking at this I would appreciate any advice on getting into Libraries over there…

Thank you!

Kurt Cobain Poster on Reading

Click on image below to download poster

Reading for Pleasure: a primer

What is ‘Reading for Pleasure’?

The act of picking up and reading a book (fiction or non-fiction), magazine, comic, screenplay, gaming manual, e-reader or any other item consisting of text, images or a combination thereof for the purpose of reading it for the prime reason of enjoying it!

DID YOU KNOW: that reading for pleasure can also be a learning experience? Yes, while many people think that reading for pleasure is a throwaway activity, usually reserved for ingesting fiction or similar; many readers find reading non-fiction works pleasurable and learning as they go.

How do you encourage Reading for Pleasure?

If you run a Library, make sure that it stocks a wide variety of resources and listen to requests and suggestions from the people that use it to make sure that you are carrying what they want as well as what they need.

When a class comes in to borrow books give them space to choose and make yourself available to help them find something if they are not sure what they want. Do not get offended if they decline what you suggest (even if it is one of your favourite books)

If you see a student pick up a book that you think is too easy for them – bite your tongue! It is not up to you to police their reading habits, by all means recommend something else for them once they have read it but do not make them feel judged for what they choose to read. What may be a momentary comment that you forget soon after you have made may stay with them for a lot longer and colour their future interactions with you and the library.

DID YOU KNOW: that for many young people, shared reading is a pleasurable experience – have you ever seen children crowded round the Guinness Book of Records excitedly reading some of the records to each other – if that does not look like they are enjoying themselves then nothing does!

Seriously I know that in some lessons solitary reading is recommended but if you have a group enjoying a book why not let them get on with it or say half the lesson group reading, the other half solo reading.

If you have a teacher or teachers that demand the students read age-appropriate texts in library lessons maybe have a quiet word with them and see if they are willing to compromise.

Listening to audiobooks is also reading – the words just take a different route to the brain; if a student wants to plug in their earphones to listen to a book they love – let them!

Libraries Need Librarians a poem

I wrote a two verse poem yesterday over on twitter, John Dougherty contributed a further two verses and then Eve Ainsworth got involved.

The poem is available below, to download a copy click on the image

Ⓒ remains with the original authors

Poster: All you Want is the Internet

Poster: #LibrariansareNinja

Poster: Exams are Coming

Download a pdf copy of the Exams are Coming by clicking on the image below:

The CILIP Carnegie Medal: is it time for a discussion about splitting the medal?

The short-list for the 81st CILIP Carnegie Medal was announced yesterday and it started up the discussion about splitting the Medal into a YA and younger fiction award due to a number of YA titles containing unsuitable content for younger readers.

I set up a 24 hour poll on Twitter to gauge how people feel about the idea of splitting the medal.

I must admit that in past discussions with friends and colleagues the majority of people I have spoken to have favoured the one medal for all approach as it is currently run. The results of the poll surprised me, I honestly expected them to be more evenly matched.

You can see the results below, if you click on the tweet you can read the entire, fascinating conversation that it spawned.

One of the major successes of the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Awards has been the Shadowing Scheme allowing thousands of students in schools across the country and the world to follow the judging process, read along with the judges and have the opportunity to speak to members of the judging panel about the judging process. This is one of the positive extras that the Medals offer; but when younger readers are excluded due to the mature content of many of the short-listed titles it starts becoming of limited value to primary schools and the lower years of senior school.

The Shadowing Scheme is not the main purpose of the awards nor is it to recognise an ideal book for all readers. The Carnegie Medal is awarded annually to the writer of an outstanding book written in English for children and young people. This most outstanding book is chosen through a rigorous judging process and I do not want that to change.

However the strength of feeling engendered by the question among librarians, authors, publishers and other interested parties plus the growing ease of identifying YA books and other children’s books may make splitting the award less onerous than it may have been in the past.

Speaking personally, I am, at present, in favour of the one award for all but I am not against participating in a discussion about the future of the awards and recognising outstanding works for young people. Are new medals required to recognise age-specific books for young readers or will the Carnegie (and possibly the Kate Greenaway) survive in multiple incarnations?

This decision is, fortunately, not one that I can make, the only people able to do that are CILIP and the CKG Working Party who administer the medals.

One of the strengths of the Awards is that the decision-makers do listen to outside voices, and if the suggestions made have merit then changes are effected to make them more inclusive, relevant and open.

As I stated in my initial tweet, the poll was informal, but the message it sends is that perhaps it is time to revisit to conversation about splitting the medals, as the voices of dissent are only going to get louder.

#TeenLibrarian Monthly March 2018

Download (PDF, 660KB)

Only You Can Save mankind by Terry Pratchett

As the mighty alien fleet from the latest computer game thunders across the screen, Johnny prepares to blow them into the usual million pieces. And they send him a message: We surrender.

They’re not supposed to do that! They’re supposed to die. And computer joysticks don’t have ‘Don’t Fire’ buttons . . .
But it’s only a game, isn’t it. Isn’t it?

Often overlooked in favour of his Discworld series, Terry Pratchett’s Johnny Maxwell trilogy is nevertheless an amazing set of books that desrves its place in the sun.

First published when I was 17, Only You Can Save Mankind was the fourth non Discworld book that I had read (the other three were the Bromeliad trilogy).

Now re-jacketed, re-illustrated (by Mark Beech) and re-released, Only You can Save Mankind more than holds up 26 years later. It is as magnificent as I remembered it the first time I read it – an anti-war novel that is also about friendship, fitting in, the importance of talking and a reminder that abuse and neglect can happen anywhere.

Look I should not have to sell you on a Terry Pratchett book – he was a phenomenal author and is still my favourite story-teller and one day I will have read all his works but that day is not today! Today marks the third anniversary of his passing and on this day if you have not discovered his work why not make a start with Only You Can Save Mankind?