Tom Wilcock is the Literacy, Learning and Engagement Officer for Doncaster Libraries.
I never set out to become a Library worker, it kind of just happened. I was studying English Language and Journalism at University before I left to become a rockstar. Unfortunately, both for me and potentially millions of fans, the UK just wasn’t ready. I then had to get a job, and I was attracted to the first one I saw, to work in Doncaster Libraries. After several jobs in the service I wanted to push myself further and really make a difference, my head of service was very supportive and suggested I joined CILIP, so I did, and then YLG.
I went along to the local meeting and found it all very strange. Being on a committee was new to me, and rather daunting. There was a National rep, a Chair, a Secretary and even a Treasurer! People had to second things, minutes were taken and after a few hours passed I was able to gather my thoughts on it all. Once I’d passed initiation I was one of them, and I had gained a new set of friends. I must have made an impression as months later I was asked if I wanted a role in the committee.
“Wow, what an honour” I thought, when asked if I wanted to be the next CKG judge for Yorkshire and the Humber. That was around three years ago, before I was married, before I had a baby…with another on the way.
Then the books began to arrive on my desk and it all became very real.
Of course very few people in my social circle understood what on earth any of it meant, “What, like kids’ books?” “Shouldn’t be too difficult then” and from the outside looking in it doesn’t look difficult, but believe me, it is. To prevent me from descending into the madness of the rabbit hole I had to plan my reading, right up until having half of a Carnegie book to finish on the train to London for the shortlist meeting. I read more books in three months than I had over the past year or so, and reading anything I wanted to read for pleasure was simply out of the question. Certainly reading all of the nominated titles was a pleasure, but in a different way.
I’d always read growing up, I’d class myself as a child of Harry Potter, I was 11 when The Philosopher’s Stone was released, and then I grew up with him. I was never a fast reader, and needed complete silence and several free hours to even attempt reading. That all changed. I started reading whenever I could, my reading became faster and more focused, until one day, when I had an epiphany. You know when Neo stands back up after we think Agent Smith has killed him? That was me, I. WAS. THE. BOOK!
Plus, I had this little cherub to help me too: