Category Archives: Carnegie

‘Cultural Appropriation, Unconscious Bias and Colonial Aspects of Collections’ – YLG conference session

Anyone who has ever attended a professional conference knows that such events are a mix of the good (catching up with friends after one of you has moved on, being able to look round the room at other attendees and know that you share a passion for the same type of work, FREE STUFF), the bad (trying to sleep in an unfamiliar bed in a room next to the lifts, being reminded of the ever-increasing pressure of working in your field, endless queues for tea and coffee), and the ugly (a full buffet breakfast is inclusive but the packed schedule means you’ve no time to linger and enjoy the spread). Few aspects of the conference experience, however, are as dreaded as those two little words:

BREAKOUT SESSION.

The horror of potential interaction with our fellow attendees – being forced to participate in ice-breaker activities, being asked to share anecdotes, being close enough to the facilitator to make eye contact – nothing can make one break out into a cold sweat faster. Or maybe that’s just me?

It was, therefore, a relief to find that the first breakout session I attended at this year’s YLG Conference (Reading the Future, at the Mercure Manchester Piccadilly, 21-23 September 2018) required none of these things. Titled ‘Cultural Appropriation, Unconscious Bias and Colonial Aspects of Collections’, this session took the format of a panel discussion followed by a Q&A, introducing me to creators whose excellent work I had not previously encountered. Ably guided by academic Chloe Germaine Buckley, Senior Lecturer in English and Film at Manchester Metropolitan University, authors Candy Gourley and Miriam Halahmy each introduced us to their most recent novels before engaging in a discussion of why and how, even nearly two decades into the 21st century, publishing and libraries still struggle to present readers with a choice of books that accurately reflect the enormous diversity and reality of the world in which we all live.

Buckley began the session by quoting some hard numbers, drawing from data collected and reported by the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE): of the 9,115 children’s books published in the United Kingdom during 2017, a mere 391 – just four percent! – of these featured Black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) characters. Even more shocking, over half of this paltry total were what is often referred to as ‘social issues’ books – giving the strong impression that BAME characters and lives aren’t thought of by many authors – and therefore, many readers – as ‘normal’, ‘mainstream’ or otherwise ‘unremarkable’, but rather disrupted by racism, violence, or other incidences of social disorder. After allowing a moment for the audience to fully absorb this information, Buckley introduced Miriam Halahmy, author of numerous books, poems and short stories for children, teens and adults.

Those who follow the Youth Libraries Group blog on the CILIP website may recall Halahmy’s recent opinion piece ‘What is on our Bookshelves’ (link: https://www.cilip.org.uk/blogpost/1637344/309628/What-is-on-our-Bookshelves–an-opinion-piece-by-author-Miriam-Halahmy), in which she discussed her experience as Head of Special needs in a Camden secondary school during the period in the early 1980s when The Rampton Report ‘on the education of children from ethnic minorities’ was published. The recommendations of this report had far-reaching effects on, in particular, school libraries across the United Kingdom; librarians and teachers, horrified by the exaggerated and stereotyped depictions of children from non-Anglo backgrounds, discarded enormous numbers of books in their attempts to embrace a multicultural society, but often did not have the funds to adequately replace these castoffs with new books reflecting positive depictions of other cultures and peoples. Halahmy says that the question is often asked, is the lack of BAME representation today because ‘[her] generation of teachers threw them all away?’

Of course, the real answer is much more complicated; overcoming the current deficiency of representation will require the cooperation of authors, literary agents, publishers, media reviewers, readers and librarians. Halahmy is certainly doing her part: as a Jewish woman with four Polish grandparents, married to an Iraqi Jew, different languages and cultures (including Polish, Yiddish, Hebrew, Russian, and Arabic) have always been a part of her life – in her words, she ‘cannot help but write multicultural characters because this is the world I inhabit.’ Halahmy’s beliefs complement my own primary philosophy as a librarian – that all children deserve to be able to see themselves reflected in the pages of a book.  Her newest book, Behind Closed Doors, is about two teenage girls on the verge of homelessness for very different reasons, and features a cast of characters from a range of backgrounds, including Black British schoolboy Dom and Japanese-American swimmer Jordan.

Next to speak was Filipino author Candy Gourley, whose 2018 novel, Bone Talk, originated when the author was conducting research into Filipino integration for a non-fiction book on the subject, and came across a photograph from the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, Missouri. This photo, depicting a woman dressed in the customary Edwardian fashion of the time, standing alongside a man naked but for a G-string, piqued her interest, for alongside the spectacular displays of scientific and technological progress – including the first electrical socket, incubator, x-ray machine and Ferris wheel – the sights advertised by the Fair’s organisers also included ‘exotic peoples’. Gourley went on to explain how the subjects of these grotesque living exhibits included a number of displaced people; in this case, the man in the G-string was a Native Filipino, a member of a group of highland people known at the time as the Igorot – but better known to Americans as head-hunters. [Note: in my research for this piece, I learned that the exonym ‘Igorot’ is considered somewhat of a pejorative by the people whom it describes, and that the tribal people of the Cordillera region prefer a number of other terms; hereafter, I shall use the term ‘Cordillerans’.] A number of Cordillerans were brought to St Louis following the Philippine-American War (1899-1902), in anticipation of the World’s Fair; once there, the Native Filipinos duly reconstructed a mock village as part of the wildly popular ‘Philippine Exhibition’, in which they lived in plain view of gawking fairgoers, staging daily shows for the entertainment of their Western audiences.

Gourley’s research into these people and how they came to be part of the 1904 World’s Fair took her from archives in St Louis all the way to the mountain provinces of the Philippines, where she made two important determinations. Firstly, the story of the Cordillerans was one she wanted to tell; secondly, although she herself is Filipino, this was not her story – and writing it as such would be cultural appropriation. Gourley went on to clarify this point, saying that to an extent, ‘all fiction is cultural appropriation’; however, the problem with writing a story from the perspective of the Cordilleran people at the turn of the twentieth century is that no authentic record of their voices survives – only American versions. For this reason, although Bone Talk takes place amongst the Cordilleran community – specifically, the people of the Bontoc – it does so during the period of the Philippine-American War, thus enabling Gourley to draw from those American chronicles of life amongst the Bontoc people at that time and thereafter as she constructed her work of fiction.

Gourley’s mention of cultural appropriation reminded her audience of our reasons for attending this session in particular, and the subsequent discussion between the authors was fascinating, so much so that I must admit I rather abandoned my note-taking. Particular highlights, though, include:

  • Gourley’s explanation of what she calls ‘The Lack’ – specifically, the something-that-is-missing at the beginning of every story, which is filled in over the course of the narrative – and how it is our job as librarians and authors to help promote authentic voices to fill that missing element;
  • Halahmy’s reminder that authors have to ‘murder [their] darlings’ – characters should have more purpose than just ‘representation’, and if not furthering the plot, they are just weighing it down; and
  • Gourley’s discussion of how her writing critique group is made up of cisgender white people authors, and how she had to ‘knock back’ certain aspects of Bone Talk as a result.

Halahmy pointed out that ‘we are very much on the cusp of change’ in terms of elevating lesser-known voices within libraries and publishing, though there still exist ‘a lot of barriers to be broken down’. Gourley concurred, going on to say that what will really help increase diversity is ‘not having diversity panels’ but instead making the effort to ‘move in the realms of the people you want to invite in’ to the conversation; Halahmy nodded in agreement, musing, ‘the number of book launches I go to where I’m the darkest person in the room…’ before declaring that ‘this is not a box-ticking exercise’, a statement that was met with applause, and brought the panel to a close.

I could not agree more with these sentiments. After nearly two decades of librarianship, I have learned that establishing diverse representation in my collections and avoiding (as much as possible) unconscious bias in my reading is only possible through hard work, constant education, and an open mind. As a white man – and an American one, at that! – stories about people like me have been front and centre for far too long; it is my responsibility to use the privileges afforded to me as a member of that demographic to elevate and promote the voices of those who may be overlooked, and who may struggle to find and connect with readers or books featuring people like themselves. It has been thirty years now since Emily Style of the National SEED Project first introduced the concept of ‘windows and mirrors’ as a curricular framework; I firmly believe that our primary duty as librarians is to provide as many different mirrors and windows as possible, in order to enable all of our users to both see themselves reflected, and to learn about other cultures, and gauging by the number of my colleagues who attended this panel, I am not the only one.

As a first-year judge for the CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Medals, I was especially gratified to see so many of my fellow judges in attendance; frequent readers will recall that CILIP has recently released the final report summarising the Independent Review of the CKG undertaken from June 2017 and has, or will shortly be, implementing a number of changes to the process as a result of these findings. I feel enormously lucky to have joined the judging panel at this point in time, as the various training opportunities made available to us will be of great use to me both personally and professionally; indeed, I can already identify a subtle shift in how I evaluate this year’s nominated titles against the awards criteria. (Time spent on said evaluations – and the sheer scale of the 2019 nominations list – may explain why this piece is being published some two months after the annual conference. Oops?) My heartfelt thanks to Chloe Buckley, Candy Gourley and Miriam Halahmy for their time in presenting this panel, to all of the conference organisers for a fantastic experience, and to Caroline Fielding for the extremely late submission of this report….

Emerson Milford Dickson

Emerson is a secondary school librarian living and working in NE London. He represents London as a judge for the 2019/20 CKG Medals, and tweets about libraries, politics, cats and more at @microfichetacos

CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Awards 2019

It is finally here! The biggest ever (again) nominations list for the best ever children’s books awards.

For those of you who don’t know, the Carnegie medal is awarded to the author of an outstanding piece of literature for children and young people while the Kate Greenaway medal recognises the illustrator of an outstandingly illustrated book for children and young people (the 2019 awards are for titles published in the UK between September 2017 and August 2018). Most nominations come from members of CILIP and so for a book to be nominated it must have been read and loved by at least one individual…hopefully, before nominating, that individual will have also considered whether the book meets the criteria that the judges then use to whittle the huge nominations list down to a long list of (up to) 20 each to a shortlist of (up to) 8 each to the eventual winners. Some of us (lucky us) get sent books by publishers, sometimes with a “we’d like this to be considered for CKG” note, but the nominations are all made by people with an interest in libraries for children and young people.

This summer a report was published into the diversity review (Matt blogged about it here) bringing a few changes to the process to ensure that it is as diverse and inclusive as possible:

This year, 254 books have been nominated for the 2019 Medals; 137 books are in the running for the CILIP Carnegie Medal and 117 for the Kate Greenaway Medal. Books have been put forward by a record number of nominators which, alongside CILIP members, includes several external bodies − BookTrust, CLPE, Commonword, IBBY, Inclusive Minds, National Literacy Trust and RNIB − invited to nominate as part of CILIP’s diversity and inclusion action plan for the Awards.

As part of this action plan, this year also sees:

o   an expanded judging panel of librarians, bringing a broad range of lived experiences and perspectives

o   enhanced diversity training for the judges

o   an equality, diversity and inclusion advisory panel to support and advise on the Awards process

o   a new prize voted for by children and young people

o   and a quarterly publication of Top 10 New Voices eligible for the upcoming Medals.

Scanning the lists, some favourites are there along with a few that I keep meaning to read. In the years before my judging tenure I read the full nominations list every year, and then obviously while judging I read everything (some things many times over), but as the list grows ever longer and more and more books continue to be published that will be eligible for 2020 (…2020! Wishing my life away in CKGs…) this year I’m going to alternate one book from the list with one new book and see how far I get. So far, I’ve only read 1/3 of the Carnegies (clearly spent too much time re-reading Pratchett) and nearly half the Kate Greenaways (will have to raid the public library for the rest).

What do I love that I’ve read so far? Oooh, it is fab to be able to think about favourites and not just about criteria. Every year I guarantee you every one of the judges will have to lose at least one of their favourites to those that the panel agree best meet the criteria. Judges can’t say “I loved this book because…”, they have to say “it meets this criteria because…”.

  • So my top 10 Carnegie favourites so far are: David Almond Colour of the Sun, Jo Cotterill Jelly, S.E. Durrant Running on Empty, Candy Gourlay Bone Talk, Frances Hardinge A Skinful of Shadows, Catherine Johnson Freedom, Zanib Mian The Muslims, Philip Reeve Station Zero, Jason Reynolds Long Way Down, Dave Shelton The Book Case.
  • Top 10 Kate Greenaway that I love, so far, are: Mehrdokht Amini Nimesh the Adventurer, Francesca Chessa Is it a Mermaid?, Rebecca Cobb The Day War Came, Ruth Hearson Zeki Gets a Checkup, Jean Jullien I Want to be in a Scary Story, Fiona Lumbers Luna Loves Library Day, Poonam Mistry You’re Safe With Me, Jackie Morris The Lost Words, Chris Priestly Long Way Down, Catell Ronca The Drum.

It was hard to whittle it down to 10 each and I’ve got so many left to read! I’m certain they won’t all be longlisted, but that’s the joy of picking favourites. It seems to me that the Kate Greenaway list has far fewer titles for older children than in the last few years, but of course that may well just be because half the ones I’ve not read yet are for teenagers and (having a 3 year old) I’ve gravitated more towards classic picture books! The Carnegie list seems to have something for everyone in there, I don’t envy the judges having to make those decisions*!

(*who am I kidding, of course I do, those judging meetings are intense but absolutely brilliant)

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

    CKG18 awards winners

    In case you somehow managed to miss the news yesterday, the CILIP CKG awards ceremony was held at the British Library.

    It was a fantastic event that is well worth watching again for the eloquent speeches. I’m just going to share a link to clips of some of the event, and Jake Hope’s post about the awards and the winners.

    Head to twitter and look over the #CKG18 hashtag to catch up on opinions and photos.

    It marked the end of my two year judging tenure. It has been such a joy to be involved in the process, although really hard to not join in public conversations about the books! I now have a huge TBR pile to catch up on, ready to pick my nominations for 2019…and TALK ABOUT!

    Whatever Happened to the CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Medals?

    The Time: Next week?

    The Place: Austerity UK

    When the last Libraries closed and the final Librarians and Library workers packed off the retraining facilities or retired it was realised that the minute savings made from destroying the public library service made no impact on reducing the deficit or ending austerity.

    Still every little helps (or not as the case may be)
     
    CILIP quietly disbanded the YLG and felt guilty about it, without Children’s & Young Peoples Librarians there were no facilitators, no organisers, no judges so the awards just did not happen. There was shock and disbelief that awards with such a prestigious and high profile history could end but what could one do? The librarians were just not there anymore – who knew this could happen?
     
    Oh sure there were a few protests and people shouting about how important they were but apart from a few column inches here and blog posts there they just faded into history.
     
    Without authors and illustrators there would be no need for the Awards, but without Librarians there would be no Awards.

    That may be the future but it is not this day!

    Today the CKG Medal winners are announced, the 81st CILIP Carnegie Medal will be awarded to the most outstanding book for children and young people and the 61st Kate Greenaway Medal will be awarded to the most outstanding illustrated work.

    It is amazing, for years I have been fascinated by the Medals and then I was selected to join the Judging Panel and became one of a select few to see behind the curtain and now I am more engaged with the awards than ever before! Knowing how much work, dedication and personal sacrifice goes in to running and judging the awards is mind-boggling.

    Seriously if you want to know more about how the awards function then get hold of a judge and speak to them! You will learn that Librarians are Super Heores!

    The fact that the awards are run wholly and solely by librarians is often overlooked, and in the current era of cuts and closures this makes them vulnerable. The threat is very real, and the loss of prestigious awards such as the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals is something that could be used by Library Activists protesting the ongoing loss and deprofessionalisation of Libraries in the UK.

    That, however is a consideration for Tuesday morning, for today is a day for celebrating literature, reading, authors and librarians!

    If you excited about the 81st CILIP Carnegie Medal and the 61st CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal recipients then you can watch live here: http://carnegiegreenawauk/sty.org.ream.php from 12pm and join the celebrations on social media using the #CKG18 hashtag.

    #BAME authored books currently eligible to be nominated for the 2018 CILIP Carnegie Medal

    The CILIP Carnegie Medal was rocked by controversy this year as the long and short lists for 2017 featured no books by Black, Asian & Minority Ethnic (BAME) authors. At the time as a former judge and observer of the CKG Medals I made my views publicly known and am not going to go through most of them here.

    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.

    I also know that BAME authors do not face a level playing-field when it comes to being published, although the initiatives that have been springing up recently to remedy this is a step in the right direction.

    In the interests of trying to help make sure that no authors are left behind, I am promoting all the BAME authors I can find that are eligible for nomination for 2018.

    SO! If you are a Librarian and a member of CILIP then good news! You are eligible to nominate two books for the CILIP Carnegie Medal as well as two books for the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal – I hope to put together a list of Greenaway eligible titles soon. I am not telling you to nominate books from the list below, but if you have read one or more (as I have) and you think that they deserve a chance at going for gold then nominate them!

  • Randa Abdel-Fatteh – The Lines We Cross
  • S.K. Ali – Saints and Misfits
  • Amy Alward – Potion Diaries Going Viral
  • Sita Brahmachari – Tender Earth
  • Jack Chen – See You in the Cosmos
  • Michaela DePrince – Ballerina Dreams (illus Ella Okstad)
  • Lorraine Gregory – Mold and the Poison Plot
  • Swapna Haddow – Dave Pigeon Nuggets (illus Sheena Dempsey)
  • Polly Ho-Yen – Fly Me Home
  • Catherine Johnson – Blade and Bone
  • Patrice Lawrence – Indigo Donut
  • Irfan Master – Out of Heart
  • Taran Matharu – Battlemage
  • Sandhya Menon – When Dimple Met Rishi
  • Kiran Milwood Hargrave – The Island at the End of Everything
  • Nick Mohamed – Young Magicians
  • Pooja Puri – The Jungle
  • Bali Rai – The Harder they Fall
  • Chitra Soundar – A Jar of Pickles and a Pinch of Justice (illus Uma Krishnaswamy)
  • Chitra Soundar – Pattan’s Pumpkin (illus Frane Lessac)
  • Angie Thomas – The Hate U Give
  • Alex Wheatle – Straight Outta Crongton
  • Nicola Yoon – The Sun is Also a Star
  •  
    If you have already made your choices then speak to colleagues that have not yet nominated! ALL members of CILIP are able to nominate – not just the ones working in Children’s & Young Peoples Librarianship.

    I will add more authors and titles as they pop up on my radar. If you know ones that are eligible please leave a comment and I will add them!

    #YATakeover Neil Gaiman Interview

    Early last week I received a cryptic e- mail from Jake Hope asking if I was free on Saturday from 4 – 5pm. I said of course and he revealed that Neil Gaiman had agreed to participate Anthe FAFictionado’s #YATakeover and they wanted me to host the chat.

    Once I had managed to stop dancing round the library I agreed and then started fretting that something terrible would happen (spoiler: it didn’t)

    The interview took place yesterday on twitter and the storify is below:

    CILIP announces independently chaired review of Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals as part of its wider Equality and Diversity Plan

    CILIP, the library and information association, has announced plans to include an independently chaired review of the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals as part of the organisation’s wider Equality and Diversity Action Plan.

    CILIP is due to publish its Equality and Diversity Action Plan, led by the CILIP Ethics Committee and the Board of Trustees, in the summer of 2017. The Plan is as a result of on-going work, following previously published research commissioned in 2015 by CILIP and the Archives and Records Association, which outlined diversity issues in the library, archives, records, information management and knowledge management sector, including a gender split in the workforce of 78.1% female to 21.9% male (UK workforce 50.1% female and 49.9% male) and 96.7% of the workforce identify as ‘white’ (UK workforce 87.5% identify as ‘white’).

    CILIP’s Action Plan will identify steps in both the short and long-term to improve and champion equality and diversity within CILIP, its governance, membership and the wider library and information sector. It will now include details of the review process for the Medals.

    Nick Poole, CILIP Chief Executive, said:

    We are committed to championing diversity, equality and inclusion through all of CILIP’s activities, from the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals to the wider library and information sector, while also confronting and challenging structures of inequality. We know there are long-standing and embedded challenges and we see this as a tremendous opportunity to promote positive change for ourselves and the sector. For this reason, we are announcing the publication of our Equality and Diversity Action Plan and an independently chaired review into the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals.

    The decision to hold an independently chaired review of the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals was taken by CILIP and the Working Party who plan and develop the Medals, following concerns raised about the lack of BAME representation on the 2017 Carnegie Medal longlist announced in February. The review will inform the annual evaluation process and long-term planning around the Medals and accompanying shadowing scheme. The review process – which will provide recommendations about how diversity, equality and inclusion can best be championed and embedded into its work – will be open, transparent and accountable and will proactively seek views and contributions from the widest possible range of stakeholders. The review will begin following the announcement of the 2017 winners in June and follow the 2018 prize cycle.

    Tricia Adams, Chair of the Youth Libraries Group National Committee and Chair of the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Awards judging panel, commented: We are completely committed, as Medals judges and librarians, to championing diversity, equality and inclusion and challenging issues of structural inequality in a positive and constructive way.

    The shortlist for the 2017 CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Medals will be announced on Thursday 16 March 2017. The winners of the Medals, and the Amnesty CILIP Honour (which commends human rights in children’s literature), will be announced on 19 June 2017.

    Splitting the Atom Carnegie

    Please note this post is a flight of fancy possibly brought on by the rather strong medication my GP gave me yesterday, or just a stray thought that hung around in my brain…

    Scientific history note: The atom was first split in 1919 by Ernest Rutherford at the University of Manchester

    The Carnegie Medal has been awarded to the most outstanding Children’s Book almost every year since 1936 (except in 1943, 1945 & 1966 as no titles were considered suitable).

    In recent years the Medal has been awarded to books aimed at an older readership, this has prompted a number of comments over the years from observers that perhaps it is time for the Medal to be split into an older and younger award.

    In 2015, then Chair of the CKG Judges panel Agnes Guyon penned a wonderful post on why splitting the Medal is not an option, you can read this here: https://www.cilip.org.uk/blog/cilip-carnegie-kate-greenaway-award-message-2015-chair-judges

    Currently all books published under the umbrella of “Children’s Books” are eligible to be nominated for the Carnegie Medal, but until the publishing world starts differentiating between Children’s Books, Middle Grade, Teen Fiction and Young Adult Fiction it will not be possible for CILIP to even consider dividing up titles into Children’s & MG for a Carnegie Junior and Teen & YA fiction for a Carnegie Senior.

    Let us say for the purpose of this post that publishers and authors did agree to start adding these sub-headings into Children’s Fiction, then it is conceivable that the Carnegie could be split.

    Once all eligible titles had been nominated for a particular year, the first year judges could read towards a long-list for the Carnegie Junior Medal and second year Judges could read for long-listing the Senior Medal.

    Once both long-lists had been announced the short-listing process could involve the entire Judging panel or perhaps it would be best to wait until the short-lists have been announced for the combined panel to choose the most outstanding books.

    With the ever-expanding list of nominated titles this is a way that the lists could be kept manageable.

    Anyway as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, it is just a stray thought that I considered as an intellectual exercise, I am a supporter of a single medal for all Children’s Books! At least until a workable alternative can be developed

    The CILIP CKG 2017 Controversy

    Full disclosure: I am a member of CILIP and a former judge for the 2015 & 16 CILIP CKG Medals so this may open me up to accusations of bias but I also have an inside understanding of how the Medals process works from nominations to the awarding of the medals. I will lay out the whole process as briefly as possible while not excluding any information.

    The long-lists were announced last week Thursday and while initially well-received there was a growing groundswell of discontent at the lack of Black, Asian & Minority Ethnic (BAME) on the lists.

    It has been called “a deliberate snub”

    “Appalling”

    and other less complimentary terms.
    Over the years the judging panel have been accused of many things including: being overwhelmingly female – and thus unable to fairly judge books that may have been written for a male readership, being too middle class – and therefore not being able to fairly judge a book written from a working class perspective and now being unable to fairly judge BAME books due to white privilege.

    It is worth remembering that all titles are nominated by Librarians, this shows that the profession as a whole does seek out to reward diversity no matter the ethnic make-up of the majority of the members.

    As a panel the judges disregard what is going on in other awards as the CKG medals are not a popularity contest and decisions rest solely on how titles measure up to the criteria which are often radically different to those in other awards. In comparison to other literary awards the CKG Awards are also fairly rare as all the judges read all the nominated titles.

    Diversity in awards is important, if all awards focused on the same titles there would be no scope for the out of the ordinary books as often with CKG winners the books are not the most popular but rather those that (in the opinion of the panel) best capture the criteria.

    There is one judge per YLG region in the UK as well as the Chair of Judges, the CKG Coordinator, Chair of the YLG National Committee and the Chair-elect who do not vote but use their experience and knowledge to guide the judging panel.

    Each judge brings their years of experience of reading and evaluating books for children and young people, honed by the rigorous training before we sit on the panel to the group which is made up of a mix of first and second year judges – a combination of fresh eyes and experience.

    Being a CKG Judge is an enormous privilege. It is also an enormously time-consuming process that takes control of an individual’s life for two years as reading 100 + books is not easy when one is juggling a career, home-life and in many cases children (my wife and I having our daughter at the outset of my second year as a judge almost did me in). Often Judges have to take unpaid leave from work to attend the selection meetings in London. Not everyone is able to take on this amazing challenge.

    The accusations levelled at the sitting judges is difficult to bear as they are unable to respond due to the possibility of breaching the confidentiality of the judging process. It is not easy for a former judge to hear either as the accusations blanket all of us.

    I am aware that the word racism was not used and a number of individuals have written incredibly persuasively that no one is accusing CKG judges of being closet racists but it is hard not to feel stung by the accusation that we have been purposefully side-lining BAME authors.

    Having said that, I can begin to imagine that for BAME authors the feeling that you are not loved or wanted by Librarians can be even more distressing and painful. This is not just because I know and am on cordial speaking terms with a number of BAME authors but also I am a fan of theirs and many others work.

    Out of interest I looked back at the 2016 Carnegie nominations and at a cursory glance I saw six BAME authors that I know had been nominated, three of these made the long-list.

    In 2015 there were six nominations and no listings.

    In 2014 there were three BAME nominations but no listings.

    Prior to 2014 all nominations were automatically long-listed.

    The paucity of BAME authors in the CKG listings is evidence of problems greater than the perceived short-comings of the award process.

    The Carnegie Medal celebrates its 80th anniversary this year and people online have used this as a stick to beat the awards with saying that in 80 years it is disgraceful that a BAME author has never won. Over the weekend I started looking in to when the first BAME children’s authors were published in the UK, I am pretty sure that it was not in the 1930’s and I will not stop digging until I have found an answer, this is not to say that we should not be concerned about the lack of BAME authors but blaming a symptom rather than addressing the cause may be counter-productive.

    Within publishing there is a distinct lack of diversity, this is in the process of changing but it will take years until the number of BAME authored titles published in the UK accurately reflects the population.

    Library staff are not immune from a lack of diversity across the board either, ethnic monitoring with CILIP membership is optional utilising a tick box so it is hard to know exact numbers but the profession is overwhelmingly Caucasian.

    I know from my experience on the London Youth Libraries Group Committee that the special interest groups regularly require fresh blood due to members stepping down and posts becoming available so if you are a Librarian of BAME heritage and have an interest in becoming involved with the CKG Awards please do consider joining CILIP if you are not already a member and sign up to a YLG regional committee or express interest in joining if there are no committee vacancies currently available.

    If you are unsure about the cost of membership you can ask your employer to subsidise the membership fee as many employers do pay for employee membership of professional organisations.

    Having also read CILIP C.E.O. Nick Poole’s response to criticism of the awards regarding a level playing field (and please note I am not speaking on his behalf) I think we can all agree that BAME authors and BAME citizens in general have never faced a level playing field with regard to publishing or life in the UK in general but in regard to the context in which books are read and considered against the set criteria – all the books are assessed equally.

    I am aware that a number of authors and groups have been in contact with CILIP to open a discussion on the awards, their future and to make sure that no-one feels excluded, victimised or marginalised.

    I support this endeavour and hope that we can all move forward together to ensure a future where all citizens of the UK feel included and see themselves represented in the Awards.

    How authors, publishers & publicists can help

    Be more vocal about books that are being published, this is really important if books are published close to or on the cut-off date (31st October) – Librarians are only human, we do not have the 100 eyes of Argus and sometimes miss things. It is usually not the books that massive publicity events accompanying the launch; it is the books that slip out with little to no fanfare, if you have a book that you feel hits most if not all the criteria then let us know, I know with librarians often the biggest problem we have is talking about ourselves – I am guessing it may be similar with many authors (that is why there are publicists), make sure that some proofs go to librarians (I am happy to help if publicists are not sure where to send books I can put you in contact with library friends and colleagues that read and review books as well as are active with nominating titles.

    How librarians can help

    Get involved with nominating, even if you are not directly involved with children’s and young people’s librarianship, all members of CILIP are eligible to nominate titles. If you are not sure what books to look at or read – ask a CYP or School Librarian for a suggestion, we love recommending books. Stop the breast-beating about guilt by association – if you feel strongly about it get stuck in, if you see the management level of the profession moving slowly or not at all then affect professional change from the grassroots.
    Nothing happens in a vacuum, everything we do effects a change elsewhere – a greater demand for BAME titles will cause an uptick in publication, the more books that are published means more nominations, the more nominations there are means a greater chance of being listed and the increased chance for more books to be published.

    What happens if nothing is done?

    I have seen calls for a Carnegie boycott, authors calling on their publishers not to involve their books. All nominated titles will still be read, and if it is decided that a book by an author that later recuses themself from the award is chosen then it is possible that a no award will occur, years where no titles have been selected are incredibly rare but they have happened in the history of the award.

    Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

    Although the CKG Awards are often regarded as monolithic and unchanging, the rules and regulations governing them are looked at, considered and updated on a regular basis.

    The most recent update that springs to mind is the addition of the illustrator’s name to illustrated novels nominated for the Carnegie Medal in 2016 http://www.thebookseller.com/news/illustrators-included-carnegie-nominations-314750

    I have also heard through the grapevine that CILIP is working on making the profession more diverse, but as with every initiative this will take time.