Monday, 22 July 2013

Marvellous librarians...Anna James

Our blog history and the involvement of some marvellous librarians continues...

2012/13 was our big year for shadowing the Carnegie, from longlist through to winners. During that time, we met up (virtually) with Anna James, the fingers and brains behind #tweetckg, CILIP Carnegie’s first twitter shadowing group. Generationally, Anna is somewhere inbetween Little M and I, and there are multiple convergences in our reading tastes, which is fantastic (you’ll know our tastes from this blog and Anna is over at A Case For Books).

Anna works “in a large secondary school and sixth form inbetween Solihull and Coventry. We have just over 1000 students in main school and around 250 in sixth form. I'm the only librarian in school and am based in the main library although do as much as I can with sixth form.”

Anna's schedule for the CILIP Carnegie 2013 online reading group #tweetckg
WSD: You ran a huge Midwinterblood project. What other sorts of things are you involved in?

Anna: “I try to get involved with as many different things as possible. The Midwinterblood project came about because my line manager had a Year 8 class once a fortnight and was keen to try something different with them and asked me if I had any ideas. I had just finished Midwinterblood and thought it would be perfect to do some interesting lessons around so we created a set of five lessons full of students choosing activities, lots of group work and independent exploration and open creative writing. We also got involved with Drama and Media for some cross-curricular lessons. We also had Marcus Sedgwick (the author) come into school for the last lesson which was brilliant.

The longer I'm here the more teachers have been coming to me and we've been working together to do exciting things, which is wonderful. My pet project has to be our Man Booker shadowing group though. I started this in autumn 2011 as a way to try and engage our sixth formers with exciting contemporary literature and it's been brilliant to see students who just sign up to put it on their UCAS form really get involved and find books that they love. We then take them down to the event in London to meet the authors and it's wonderful seeing them so excited to meet them and get their books signed.”

WSD: What is your library space like and what sort of atmosphere/experience do you try to create with it?

Anna: “I inherited a very drab and neglected space, lots of big metal bookcases, over 60 computers and no reading area. It was mainly used as a computer classroom. Over the years we have reclaimed the space, redecorated and created two comfy reading areas. It's now used regularly for research and reading lessons and is packed at lunchtimes.”

WSD: What do you like most about the CILIP Carnegie awards?

Anna: “I love Carnegie! It's such a wonderful way to introduce students to a real variety of fiction. The shortlist always provokes brilliant discussions, whether we loved or hated the books - we're rarely indifferent to them. It's a wonderful way for our Book Club to bond and get to know each other as well. Taking my students to the ceremony last year and this year have been real highlights of working here.”

WSD: Any top recommended 'adult' fiction reads for 13 or 14 year olds?

Anna: “I end up recommending quite a lot of adult fiction to my keen readers. One of my best readers, who is just finishing Year 9, has been reading Kazuo Ishiguro, Donna Tartt and Kate Atkinson recently! Adult books I would recommend to keen teen readers would be The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, The Radleys by Matt Haig and The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon to name just a few.”

WSD: Anything you're burning to tell us?

Anna: “Just that for all the difficulties and stresses of working in a school library, I love it. I feel very privileged to have a job working to inspire children to read. My students are wonderful and I don't think I'll ever get old of that feeling of a child returning a book you've recommended that they absolutely loved.”
Thanks Anna, and we're looking forward to #tweetckg 2014 - or maybe even a Man Booker shadowing.


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