Kara Orford is Community Librarian for Denbighshire Libraries and recently achieved Chartered status. She blogs about her experience as a 2014 Carnegie Greenaway judge.
When I embarked upon this quite marvellous judging journey, the thing that I was most worried about was the sheer amount of reading that I knew came with the territory. Everyone tells you about it, previous judges prepare you for the fact that you are quite possibly going to have to put your life on hold for a good few months and bunker down (I know that ‘hunker down’ is what I really mean, but I couldn’t resist a cheeky Kevin Brooks reference!)
Anyway, panicking about reading ALL of the nominations is par for the course so that didn’t come as a surprise at all –I just stocked up on chocolate, used up an awful lot of annual leave from work and spent a lot of time in my pyjamas! What I was quite unprepared for though, was the responsibility as a judge to quite simply keep schtum! To keep it ‘zipped’ and to keep hush when it came to lots of elements of judging – That, I wasn’t quite so prepared for!
Working with Sarah, the fabulous School Librarian, I run a CKG shadowing group in a nearby high school and once the longlist was announced, our little group began diligently making our way through the 20 titles. Now, the time came when myself and the rest of the judging panel had whittled this longlist down into a rather stonking shortlist that had yet to be announced. There was something of a gap before the list was released and all the time I had to listen to my lovely group saying things like “Well I think that one will DEFINITELY make the shortlist” or “There’s no way that will be on the shortlist, it’s absolutely rubbish!” all the time I was thinking ‘BUT I KNOW IT IS!!!!!! AGHGGHGH I KNOW, I KNOW, I KNOW!!!’ I was bursting at the seams but couldn’t tell a soul. For a chatter box like me, this was difficult!
I enjoyed following the debate on Twitter as librarians, publishers & all round eager beavers predicted what the shortlist might look like, all the while staring at my screen thinking ‘You’re WRONG! You’ve missed off Julie Berry!’ or some such. I wanted to talk about it, I wanted to natter about my first years’ experience of judging to anyone who would listen. I wanted to explain how vigorously we had debated the nominations and longlist, I wanted to tell people about the books that proved most controversial in our discussion, I wanted to spill the beans on just how close some books had come to making the shortlist and how hard some judges had battled to earn them a place there. But I couldn’t. Not yet. I couldn’t say a thing.
You see the thing is, keeping secrets is part and parcel of being a judge, it says so on our job description! (Bet you didn’t know we had a job description, but we do!) Right there on the list of our responsibilities as judges it says in black and white “To maintain confidentiality.” Well I’ll let you in on a secret of my own…
When I feel like I’m about to POP with excitement from judging and all of the Carnegie Greenaway that I have fizzing through my brain, I hotfoot it over to tell my friend Fin ALL about it. I go on and on and on and on, giving him the juiciest gossip and the most controversial of insights and the best thing of all is, I know he won’t tell a soul!
You see Fin is only 5 months old, and whilst he seems to be more of a Greenaway fan than a Carnegie enthusiast at the moment, he listens to every word I say. I get to share my secrets with someone and know 110% that he won’t let the cat out of the bag! Phewee, what a relief!
To be honest, I think Fin will be relieved when the winner is announced – Keeping these secrets is a lot of pressure for the both of us! ; )
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