…that’s me – and the School Library Association surprised me with a generous Hon Life Membership which rather took the wind out of my sails when I recently attended the SLA Conference in Glasgow. For a start it was quite odd being ‘just a delegate’ at the conference I had a hand in putting together (that was inevitable due to the time of year that I left SLA) but it was delightful too. I got to see and chat with lots of friends, and didn’t have to dash off to be somewhere else! I managed an off the cuff thank you speech – as well as (I hope) adding my voice to the call for the Great School Libraries Campaign. Plus, the Ceilidh band that evening turned out to be a great success too – just right – with lots of help in the dances!
Copyright Minh Nguyen
Seriously though, if you can do back the Great School Libraries Campaign – it is vitally important, especially in these times of closing or de-professionalised public library services, that children have access through their schools to a great library. Their literacy, ambition, health and well-being will all suffer if they have no access to good quality reading and information resources when they need them.
Since then it has been a bit of a flurry of activity which has included writing an article, completing a series of reviews, attending our first Youth Libraries Group Virtual meeting plus a few days away. Will was working taking taking photographs for his new book but I was really just enjoying the scenery, catching up with local friends and enjoying Stratford Upon Avon. We were anxious our newly laid lawn and the patio plants would survive in the heat – but all was well.
This week has been a glorious mix of work and and publisher events – including a sneak preview of the work of Chris Riddell in illustrating The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J K Rowling. We are in for a real treat there (publishing Bloomsbury, October 2018). Then off to the Branford Boase event – a celebration of the best in new writing for children and young people, but that also recognises the important role of the editor in the process. It was won this year by Mitch Johnson for Kick with his editors Rebecca Hill and Becky Walker – published by Usborne – their third important book award win this year!
Last night was a fascinating discussion event hosted by Alice Curry at Lantana Publishers called ‘Inspired by India’ an evening of picture books and conversation from Chitra Soundar, Poonam Mistry, Ranjit Singh and Mehrdokht Amini at the Nehru Centre. I had never been to the Nehru Centre before but check it out as it has a programme of events and exhibitions that are varied and interesting.
After 3 late nights in London – and Saturday there for my first FCBG National Executive meeting I am having a quiet day at home – a little light housework, followed by some reading and then a welcome catch up with friends from the village in the pub tonight!
So very nearly ready for our conference, lots of things moving into place and happily the programme looks great lighting the future looks as if it will be a good one. Think I may owe everyone lunch in the office to make up for all the hard work.
Tomorrow I’m off to the new Canada Water library in docklands for an Arts Council consultation on the model for libraries of the future. Think it may be a challenging day! Frustratingly the APPG on Libraries scheduled for earlier this week has been postponed as they couldn’t get enough MPs and Lords to the breakfast meeting – so heaven knows when that will get rescheduled.
Meanwhile we have an SLA delegation off to see Nick Gibb in early July – to discuss school libraries! Could be good.
Looking forward to all the merriment in the village for the Jubilee – especially Will and Pete’s revue entitled Diamond Geezers. One more mad week at work and then a long weekend of jollity. Bring on the fun.
So, the holidays draw to the end, with a party at the pub tonight with friends…to celebrate the start of 2012.
Last year, 2011, was a good year with lots of short breaks, mainly good health, lots of family visits and some new work opportunities for Will and I, and the girls seem to be happy in their chosen paths – so all positive.
I wonder what that new year will bring for us; certainly some tightening of belts, both literally (as I must loose some weight!) and financially, as we seem to be no nearer the end of this recession.
Work wise the new offices should create a pleasant environment, with savings that will make our lives a little simpler, and hopefully much cheaper. The challenges remain the same – closing libraries (public and school), head teachers with no vision as to what a library can be and do, a government with a great line in chat but no commitment in legislation on school libraries, and a delayed new curriculum! We may be in for hard times ahead, so not totally looking forward to the new year in some respects.
Whatever is thrown at us – good health, happy families and peace to all.
What a lot can happen in ten days. I watched with disbelief and horror as the riots in London and then in our major cities spread. The disgust at the pointless waste and the vandalism, and then the difficult process of trying to understand (not excuse) and thus try to think of ways that will make a difference and help to heal all the rifts. The solution is probably political – and thus fills me with a certain amount of healthy cynicism. But, with disassociated, disaffected youth in all our cities why then continue closing the one non judgemental place society provides for all – the public libraries. There have been a lot of discussions of this in the press recently – Alan Bennett in the Telegraph and Boyd Tonkin in the Independent have both said it better than me.
Meanwhile the LGA and MLA have reported on their Future Libraries programme – and what dispiriting reading that makes! No recognition of the intrinsic value of libraries – just an exploration of the ways to decimate and cut the library services in the name of economy. There are savings that can be made I am sure but cutting librarians, opening hours, or running libraries with volunteers are not the way forward for any good quality service.
So to finish the week I got away from it all by going to my favourite music festival – Fairport’s Cropredy Convention. This advertises itself as the friendliest festival – and it really is. The village really seems to welcome all it’s annual visitors and lays on breakfast in the village hall or the boating club so that those of us who are infrequent campers can eat well – even if we can’t do the camp-fire cooking bit! Then we all get onto the field and watch the most amazing selection of musicians appear before us. Acts varied from UB40, The Blockheads, the Travelling Band, Horslips and Seasick Steve to folk favourites like Lau, the Shee, Moore Moss Rutter and, of course, Fairport themselves – briefly joined on stage by Ralph McTell too! The sound of 20,000 people enjoying themselves and singing Meet on the Ledge at midnight on Saturday is spine tingling. It was also reassuring to go to a festival where camp-site neighbours will lock the car next to them and put the keys into the owners tent rather than steal anything from the car that had been left with the keys dangling in the door! A caring society does exist – we just need to spread the ethos a little more widely.