Category Archives: News


At noon on the 5th November I joined friends, colleagues and around 2500 other fellow believers in Museums, Galleries and a comprehensive, fully-staffed Library service outside the British Library on a march through London.

It was amazing – I saw so many people I have known for years but seldom see in real life (and that was just the Librarians). Amongst the library supporters was Alan Gibbons who had a pivotal role in organising everyone, acting as master of ceremonies and making sure that speakers got to the megaphone; Lord Bird the cross-bench peer also made an appearance and gave a rousing and moving speech about the cost of closing libraries, his words are still echoing in my head two days later, Michael Rosen was his normal fiery self and Chris Riddell current Children’s Laureate spoke as well and apparently drew as he walked. Philip Ardagh loomed imposingly like a giant, bearded Moai statue and spoke as he usually does incredibly eloquently.


There were so many people I know online in attendance – most of whom I only found out about after the event which is a shame as I love meeting people that I have only know via e-mail or twitter.

I joined my fellow School Librarians bringing up the rear of the march, the whole event was impeccably organised and run by Unison shop stewards. The Metropolitan Police were also in attendance and kept a low profile throughout making sure that traffic kept its distance and otherwise acting unobtrusively.

One of the most heartening things of the march was the fantastic level of public support, from drivers hooting and waving and people on the side-lines applauding as we walked past.

This is the first time since the anti-austerity March for a Difference march I 2011 that I have been able to get out and stand up for libraries and I have missed it!

Ian Clark one of the founders of Voices for the Library & The Radical Librarians Collective put together a short video of the day here:

The march was peaceful, professional and ran like a dream and I would like to thank everyone who marched and those that provided moral support from near and far!

Regional marches are being organised to keep the momentum moving.

Teen Take-Over of Local Libraries

A Place Free of Judgement by Blast Theory and Tony White

On 29 October 2016, over the course of 9 hours, teenagers in Worcester, Telford and Cannock will be taking control of their local libraries, and performing live to a worldwide audience. Through a unique project supported by Arts Connect and ASCEL West Midlands, the group have been working with award-winning artists Blast Theory and author Tony White to re-imagine libraries, storytelling and their place in the world. This work will come to life in an ambitious and fun 9-hour takeover of the three libraries, starting in Telford (3pm – 6pm), then Cannock (6pm – 9pm) and ending in Worcester (9pm – midnight).

The young people involved have been invited to reimagine the role of libraries as cultural centres and explore the power of storytelling. The stories that have been developed from the workshops will be told in three consecutive performances which will be streamed live on from 3pm – midnight Saturday 29 October 2016. This ground breaking project forges a new approach to collaborative arts engagement between artists, teenagers, audiences and local authorities.

The role of libraries is under scrutiny and this project shows how they are evolving: taking risks to inspire visitors to think differently about the world around them.

Ju Row Farr, artist with Blast Theory explains: They have driven stories in challenging directions. They are hilarious one minute and moving the next. The teenagers stake out the power of books, stories and libraries in our lives.

Author Tony White comments: It has been an incredible privilege to work with really inspiring and creative young people in Cannock, Telford, Worcester, and beyond, and I’ve learned a huge amount from all involved. When so many libraries are closing and under threat, I’m glad to have seen again first-hand the vital role that libraries and librarians play for young people today, and to have been reminded of just how important my local library was to me when I was their age. With A Place Free of Judgement, I feel that we are giving something back, and I hope people enjoy it.

The project is being delivered by a partnership of six library services as part of the ASCEL national membership network. Blast Theory and author Tony White have been in residence in three libraries, one in each local authority area of Staffordshire’s Cannock Library, Telford & Wrekin’s Southwater One and Worcestershire’s St John’s Library. In addition, library services in Solihull, Dudley and Shropshire are working with groups of young people to take part in the project online.

How to Take Part

On Saturday 29 October, between 3pm and midnight, anyone can log in to interact with the young people streaming live online at Unfolding over three consecutive events at libraries, the teenagers will talk to you about personal stories and strange ideas and what they mean to both of you. Together you will make up stories and hide them in amongst the books. And, as the evening builds, a new story by acclaimed author Tony White comes to life with a reading every hour.
Visitors are invited to come and hear the readings in person on Saturday 29 October:

• 3.30pm Telford Southwater Library (TF3 4JG)
• 6.30pm Cannock Library (WS11 1AA)
• 9.30pm Worcester, St John’s Library (WR2 5AX)

Visit to book your place.

The finished book will be published later in the year. If you are interested in receiving a copy, please contact Ju Row Farr – 01273413455

Lords to Debate Role of Libraries and Independent Bookshops in the UK

Members of the House of Lords, including Lord Bird, founder of The Big Issue, Baroness Rebuck, chair of Random House UK and Baroness Hollins, founder of social enterprise Books Beyond Words, will this week debate the importance of libraries, independent bookshops and booksellers in the UK.

The debate, which will be opened by Lord Bird – his second balloted debate – will be held in the House of Lords on Thursday 13 October.
Speaking ahead of the debate, he said:

It is hard to overstate the contribution that libraries, independent bookshops and booksellers make to our lives. They are at the centre of the health and wellbeing of our local communities – intellectually, culturally, socially and physically.”
“Given the fundamental importance of literacy in efforts to prevent and dismantle poverty, I firmly believe that they need continued support from both central and local government across the UK.

I am asking that measures such as rates and taxes be lessened for bookshops in order to keep them buoyant, and that the UK Government sets a clear vision as to how it will promote, improve and strengthen our vital public library service.

This debate on Thursday will be an ideal opportunity to raise awareness of the current challenges that libraries, independent bookshops and booksellers face – and to set out a plan as to how we can best safeguard their long-term future.

Other Members scheduled to speak include:

Lord Addington
Baroness Blackstone
Lord Collins of Highbury
Lord Crisp
Baroness Hollins
Baroness Rebuck
Bishop St Albans
Lord Suri
Lord Tope
Lord Wasserman
Lord Ashton of Hyde will respond on behalf of the Government.

The debate is expected to start at some point after 2pm on Thursday 13 October. Members of the media and public are welcome to attend.

A full list of speakers to date can be found at

A list in the order in which Members will speak will be available on the day.

The debate can be watched live at and a transcript will be available approximately three hours from the start of the debate on Hansard.

Schools testing kills joy of reading says War Horse author

War Horse author and former Children’s Laureate Michael Morpurgo will today criticise testing in schools for killing the joy of reading, creating fear and anxiety, and bringing about a sense of worthlessness in children.

The former Children’s Laureate and President of BookTrust, speaking at the inaugural BookTrust Lecture on the evening of 21st September, will state that we are all as a society responsible “both for the successes and failures of our literacy and our society.” Morpurgo says that it is not just the fault of successive governments, “who corral schools and pressure teachers into teaching literacy fearfully, who insist that measurable outcomes and results are the be all and end all of the education process.”

Michael Morpurgo will say that the teaching of reading in schools can take the wonder out of stories and turn them into a subject for comprehension tests, handwriting tests and grammar tests in which at least as many children fail as succeed, leading children to give up.

“You disappoint yourself, disappoint others. You give up. I gave up. To give up on books is to give up on education, and if you give up on education, then you can so easily give up on hope… So many avenues barred, so many possibilities never imagined, so many discoveries never made, so much understanding of yourself, of others, stunted forever.”

Morpurgo is calling for every primary school to reinstate Storytime at the end of every school day, and make it: “a special time, a fun time, devoted entirely to reading, to writing, to storytelling, to drama. No testing, no comprehension, no analysis, no interrogation. Let the children go home dreaming of the story, reliving it, wondering. All that matters at that early age is that they learn to love it, that they want to listen to more stories, read them, tell them, write them, act them out, sing them, dance them. All the rest will come later, the literacy side of things, which is important, once that seed is sown. Children have to want to learn. So give them the love of story first; the rest will follow.”

He will point to, “an apartheid system of a kind in this country, between haves and have-not children, between those who read, who through books, through developing an enjoyment of literature, can have the opportunity to access the considerable cultural and material benefits of our society; and those who were made to feel very early on that the world of words, of books, of stories, of ideas, was not for them, that they were not clever enough to join that world, that it was not the world they belonged to, that it was shut off from them for  ever.”


“Our prisons are full of them, full of those we have failed. Many remain lonely and marginalised all their lives. The right book, the right author, the right parent, the right teacher, the right librarian, at the right time, might have saved some of them at least, made the difference, shone a light into a dark life, turned that life around.”

The BookTrust Annual Lecture has been launched by the leading children’s reading charity, to give a platform for debate around children’s reading. BookTrust’s Time to Read campaign is calling for families and schools to support children in developing a love of reading, keeping shared reading alive even when children are ‘too old’ for a bedtime story. Research shows that as children start school, reading enjoyment starts to slip; by the time they are ten or eleven reading as a pastime has been superseded by social media and screen time. On average 78% of children age 5-7 read to themselves at least once a week, compared to 53% of 11-13 year olds and 38% of 14-17 year olds [Egmont].

BookTrust Chief Executive, Diana Gerald, says: “Children who enjoy reading are happier, healthier; they are more empathetic, do better academically, and do better in life generally. But reading enjoyment doesn’t just happen; it needs to be encouraged, by parents, teachers and librarians. Children need to be supported to find the book that gets them hooked – whether that book is a Dickens classic, a turn-pager thriller, or a story about football, Minecraft, zombies or witches. The important thing is to give children a choice, and to support that choice.

“Reading isn’t a tick list of books that need to have been read; nor is it just a skill to be learned then filed away. Literacy can, and should be tested; reading for pleasure needs to be nurtured, and seen more like exercise – do it as regularly as you can, make it fun, and read together whenever possible for maximum benefits.”

For more information or if you would like to attend the lecture contact Monica Brimacombe in the BookTrust Press Office on 020 7801 8849 or mobile: 07811 138185. Email:



Authors Keith Gray, Claire McFall and Joan Lennon have made it onto the shortlist for the very first Scottish Teenage Book Prize.

The prize, set up to celebrate the most popular teen books by Scottish authors, is run by Scottish Book Trust with support from Creative Scotland. Shortlisted authors receive £500 per book, and the winning author will receive £3,000.


· The Last Soldier by Keith Gray (Barrington Stoke)
· Black Cairn Point by Claire McFall (Hot Key Books)
· Silver Skin by Joan Lennon (Birlinn)

Keith Gray is shortlisted for his book The Last Soldier, a dyslexia-friendly thriller set in 1920’s Texas. Even though Keith was labelled a reluctant reader when he was younger, these days he’s an award-winning writer, reviewer and editor of Young Adult fiction. He spends much of his time visiting schools hoping to convince other reluctant readers that ‘Books are for life, not just for homework.’ His novel Ostrich Boys has been adapted for the stage and will be performed at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry this autumn.

Commenting on his nomination, Keith said:

“I’m surprised, excited and genuinely honoured to have ‘The Last Soldier’ shortlisted for the Scottish Teenage Book Prize. It’s extremely unusual to have a work of short fiction considered for a prestigious literary award and I hope the readers enjoy finding the big story, big characters, and big emotions in such a small book.”

Claire McFall is shortlisted for her novel Black Cairn Point, a chilling and atmospheric thriller which explores what happens when an ancient malevolent spirit is reawakened. Claire is a writer and English teacher who lives in the Scottish Borders. Her first book, Ferryman is a love story which retells the ancient Greek myth of Charon, the ferryman of Hades who transported souls to the underworld. The novel won the Older Readers Category of the Scottish Children’s Book Awards 2013 and was long-listed for the UKLA (UK Literary Association) Book Awards and nominated for the Carnegie Medal. Her second novel, Bombmaker, was released in 2014 and considers ideas of identity in a dystopian devolved United Kingdom. Black Cairn Point is her third novel and was released in August 2015.

Commenting on her nomination, Claire said:

“I’m incredibly pleased that ‘Black Cairn Point’ has been selected as one of the short-listed novels. This is the first year of the new Scottish Teenage Book Prize and I’m delighted to be a part of it. What I love best about the prize is that it is determined purely by votes from Scottish teenage readers. I’m really looking forward to connecting with young readers and sharing my story with them.”

Joan Lennon is shortlisted for her book Silver Skin, a highly original tale set in Stone Age Orkney, which explores what happens when ancient and modern worlds collide. Joan is a Scottish Canadian/Canadian Scot, who lives and writes in the Kingdom of Fife. She likes to write about ideas from a slightly slanted perspective and see how far the question What if? can be pushed. She has four sons, two cats and a great view over the River Tay towards Dundee.

Commenting on her nomination, Joan said:

“I’m really excited to be part of the new Scottish Teenage Book Prize in its very first year. To know that Silver Skin is being read and talked about by the people it was written for is a great feeling – and I can’t wait to see the book trailers!”

Heather Collins, Schools Programme Manager at Scottish Book Trust, said;

“The Scottish Teenage Book prize is intended as a celebration of the very best of Scottish YA fiction, and I defy any teenager to put these books down once they have read the first page – they all contain the ingredients of a gripping read and I predict a close-run competition.”

Jenny Niven, Head of Literature, Languages and Publishing at Creative Scotland, said;

“Congratulations to all three shortlisted authors in the brand new Teenage Book Prize. The benefits of encouraging young people to read – from transporting us to other worlds to better understanding the one we’re in – are virtually limitless and Scottish Book Trust are true champions of that cause. The new prize encourages teens themselves to actively celebrate the books they love, whilst creating a platform for Scottish writing talent to be recognised and promoted. Creative Scotland is delighted to be able to support both these valuable aims.”

Children aged 12-16 across the country can now vote for the winner by submitting a class vote online via the Scottish Book Trust website.

The winning book will be announced via an exclusive video on Wednesday 1st March 2017.

Aspiring film makers can enter the book trailer competition to showcase their digital talents and win book tokens for their school and for themselves. Scottish Book Trust provides extensive learning resources for teachers on how to create book trailers.

MANDATORY CREDIT: ROB MCDOUGALL STUDENTS FROM LIBERTON HIGH SCHOOL IN EDINBURGH:  REBECCA, 16 (DENIM JACKET), CHARLIE, 16 (DUNGAREES AND TARTAN SHIRT), GUY, 13 (DARK HAIR, BLUE HOODY), ROBERT, 13 (BLONDE HAIR, GREY SHIRT), ANDREA, 13 (GREY HOODY, RED JEANS). The prize, set up to celebrate the most popular teen books by Scottish authors, is run by Scottish Book Trust with support from Creative Scotland. Shortlisted authors receive £500 per book, and the winning author will receive £3,000. THE SCOTTISH TEENAGE BOOK PRIZE 2017 SHORTLIST IS: •           The Last Soldier by Keith Gray (Barrington Stoke) •           Black Cairn Point by Claire McFall (Hot Key Books) •           Silver Skin by Joan Lennon (Birlinn)   FOR ALL PRESS QUERIES, PLEASE CONTACT HELEN CRONEY: – 0131 524 0175 or 07751 69 58 54 ROB MCDOUGALL - PHOTOGRAPHER +0044 7856 222 103 COPYRIGHT ROB MCDOUGALL 2016 - NO SALES

The prize, set up to celebrate the most popular teen books by Scottish authors, is run by Scottish Book Trust with support from Creative Scotland. Shortlisted authors receive £500 per book, and the winning author will receive £3,000.
• The Last Soldier by Keith Gray (Barrington Stoke)
• Black Cairn Point by Claire McFall (Hot Key Books)
• Silver Skin by Joan Lennon (Birlinn)
FOR ALL PRESS QUERIES, PLEASE CONTACT HELEN CRONEY: – 0131 524 0175 or 07751 69 58 54
+0044 7856 222 103

Pupil Library Assistant of the Year Award

The Pupil Library Assistant of the Year Award is a joint venture between the School Library Association and the CILIP School Libraries Group. As well as promoting the work and achievements of pupils within their school libraries, work which involves dedication and commitment but which often goes unnoticed and unrewarded, it also highlights the benefits and values of the school librarian.

Do you have a pupil librarian who could become the Pupil Librarian of the Year 2017?

Someone who is reliable, volunteers regularly and who has made a difference to the library, being a role model for others?

Someone who is an example of the synergy between a school library and the pupils?

Why not nominate them?

Watch out for more details when the award opens on September 19th …
The award is supported by a number of leading children’s books publishers and the company, Authors Aloud UK, and judged by a panel of leading figures from the children’s book world and school library community.

For further information including nomination forms, contact details and sponsorship:

About the CILIP School Libraries Group

The School Libraries Group (SLG) of CILIP affirms that school libraries and school library services are fundamental to the development of a literate population able to participate fully in a thriving democracy, culture, civilization and economy.

About the School Library Association

The School Library Association is an independent charity that believes that every pupil is entitled to effective school library provision. The SLA is committed to supporting everyone involved with school libraries, promoting high quality reading and learning opportunities for all. Website:

New Award to Recognise Significant Contribution to Scottish Children’s Literature

Scottish Book Trust is today (Wednesday 10 August) delighted to announce the creation of a brand new award intended to recognise and celebrate outstanding contributions to Scottish children’s literature.

The Significant Contribution to Scottish Children’s Literature Award, sponsored by Browns Books for Students, is a new honour that will be awarded annually to one author or illustrator and one learning professional who have had an inspiring impact on young readers in Scotland.

The author or illustrator will be an individual with a strong backlist, a long record of engaging with their audience and meaningful engagement within the writing community. The learning professional will be a teacher or librarian who is going above and beyond the call of duty to pass on the Reading for Pleasure message to the next generation and who works tirelessly to inspire children and young people to read and write.

Nominations will open on 31st August 2016 and the winners will be chosen by an independent panel of experts and announced at an evening reception in June 2017.

Commenting on the award, Marc Lambert, CEO of Scottish Book Trust, said:

It is a simple statement of fact that the projects Scottish Book Trust runs for children would simply not exist without the passion of the teachers and librarians who consistently exceed their remit by embracing each and every reading campaign, award, tour, event and challenge with infectious enthusiasm, who research and download interminable resources, who put on the silly voices, who leap about until their students are as inspired and as passionate about books as they themselves are.
And, of course, there would be nothing to get the children excited about were it not for the outrageously talented and hardworking bunch of authors and illustrators that Scotland is lucky enough to lay claim to.
This award is intended to celebrate and recognise these people – the ones who bring the magic of books to children and set them on a path to being booklovers for life.

Nic Hales, Marketing Manager for Browns Books for Students added:

We at Browns Books for Students are very pleased to be working in conjunction with Scottish Book Trust to highlight such an important award, not only to schools within Scotland but also the wider community. We are very excited to find out who the winner of the award will be!

Something magical is happening to mark the twentieth anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone…

“I’ve got to go to the library!”
– Hermione Granger, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Harry_Potter_exhibition_at_the_British Library Credit Tony Antoniou

The British Library is excited to announce a new exhibition about the magic of Harry Potter, set to open at the Library in autumn 2017, and marking the twentieth anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. The exhibition will open on 20 October 2017, and run until 28 February 2018.

From medieval descriptions of dragons and griffins, to the origins of the philosopher’s stone, the exhibition will take readers on a journey to the heart of the Harry Potter stories.

The exhibition will showcase an extraordinary range of wizarding books, manuscripts and objects, and combine centuries-old British Library treasures with original material from Bloomsbury’s and J.K. Rowling’s archives.

Jamie Andrews, Head of Culture and Learning at the British Library, said:

We at the British Library are thrilled to be working with J.K. Rowling and with Bloomsbury to mark the twentieth anniversary of Harry Potter, and to inspire fans with the magic of our own British Library collections.

More information about the exhibition will be released early in 2017, and tickets will be on sale from spring 2017 at

Diverse Books in School Libraries Survey

An MA student at Oxford Brookes University is conducting research into the provision of diverse books in school libraries and would like your help. If you could fill out this short survey (and share it with any friends or colleagues who might have missed it) that would be very much appreciated!


Scottish Book Trust today (12 May 2016) announced that The Scottish Children’s Book Awards have undergone an exciting restructure, unveiling brand new reading initiatives which have been created with the purpose of inspiring even more children across Scotland to get into reading.

On 3 March 2016 the Scottish Government announced an exciting new reading initiative for P4-7, to be delivered by Scottish Book Trust in partnership with the Government. The First Minister’s Reading Challenge will be launched in August, and will encourage pupils in P4-7 classes across Scotland to read for pleasure.

To allow schools to embrace the first year of this new project fully, The Scottish Children’s Book Awards will be replaced by two new prizes, The Bookbug Picture Book Prize and The Scottish Teenage Book Prize. Scottish Book Trust will no longer run a book award for 8-11 fiction as this age group is covered by The First Minister’s Reading Challenge.

The Bookbug Picture Book Prize will be for children in nursery, Primary 1, Primary 2 and Primary 3. There will be three picture books by Scottish authors on the shortlist – pupils will be encouraged to read the three books and then vote for their favourite. In addition, every P1 child in Scotland will receive the three books in the Bookbug P1 Family Bag, gifted in November. There will also be a continued focus on involving P4-7 pupils in a shared reading project with younger pupils.

Based on feedback from teachers and librarians, changes to this category include an earlier voting deadline to reduce the time pupils wait to find out the winning author and the provision of Curriculum for Excellence (CfE)-linked classroom activities and author videos. On announcement day schools will be sent an exclusive video which unveils the winning author, to serve as a base for the pupils’ own celebrations.

The First Minister’s Reading Challenge will initially be for Primary 4, 5, 6 and 7 pupils. Pupils will set personal reading goals to achieve by March 2017 and reading journals will be distributed to all schools in the Autumn term. A new website will be unveiled in August with support materials and a list of suggested book titles, to provide inspiration for pupils and teachers alike. A range of prizes will be awarded next summer to pupils and schools taking part in the challenge.

The Scottish Teenage Book Prize will be aimed at pupils in S1 right through to S6 and will include a short-list of three Scottish teen novels – pupils will be encouraged to read the three books and then vote for their favourite. In addition there will be a Book Trailer competition and CfE-linked learning resources with activities suitable for book groups.

Changes from previous years include an extension to the voting deadline to allow more time to complete the three novels. There will no longer be a book review competition, but instead pupils will have the chance to win an event with the short-listed authors in their school. On announcement day, schools will be sent an exclusive video which unveils the winning author, to serve as a base for the school’s own celebrations.

The key dates for the new projects are as follows:
sbt table

HELEN CRONEY – 0131 524 0160 / 07751 69 58 54