Victoria Barton is the East Midlands CKG judge, she is a Locality Librarian for North West Leicestershire.
A Year in the Life of a Judge
When I was at school, my best friend told me that I would make a great librarian. She knew me better than I knew myself because it took me ten years to realise that she was absolutely right. I’ve tried a few different jobs but nothing suits me better than getting books into the hands of the people that need them.
When you become a librarian, you can join CILIP special interest groups which match up to what you like about being a librarian. I love children’s books so I joined the Youth Libraries Group. The judges for the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway awards are chosen from the librarians who join the group. I am the judge representing the East Midlands and there are people at our meetings from all over the country.
I was really nervous and excited to go along to the first meeting, it was a training day to teach us more about how to judge the books according to the criteria. I had seen the gold Carnegie stamp on many of the books that I had loved when I was younger and I knew that judging the awards was a huge honour and the highlight of my career as a librarian. I had always dreamed of being involved in the awards and now here I was about to meet other judges and start living my dream.
I also knew that judging would be really hard work. Judges read every single book that is nominated for the awards. All the books are nominated by librarians from around the country and every CILIP member can nominate books that they think meet the Carnegie or Kate Greenaway criteria. That adds up to a lot of books!
The training was really interesting. We had talks from experts in analysing books and art. It was really fun to meet other people who loved books as much as I do. I felt ready to judge!
The next three months were intense. Beautiful, brand new books started arriving at my desk. I was reading whilst cooking dinner, I was reading when I woke up, I was reading whilst I was cleaning my house, I was reading whilst other people were chatting. Every moment that I was not working in the library, I was reading or making notes about the books that I had read. I kept my notes, filed carefully so that I could get to them easily when we discussed the books at our judges’ meeting. I tried to make notes according to the criteria under the headings, plot, character and style to make sure that I was judging the books according to them.
At the meeting we talked about the books. For each book we would talk in depth about what happened in the book, the characters and the way that it was written, checking it against the criteria. There are so many books to choose from and all of them have something great about them, so making our decision is not easy.
The awards ceremony was a wonderful day. I met with some of the authors whose work we had been judging and got to hear some great speeches, praising libraries, librarians and the awards. I reflected on the friends I had made and the experiences I had enjoyed which would never have happened without judging.
With each and every book I have read, whilst judging I have entered another world, met new characters and seen things differently. Each book has changed me in a subtle way or taught me something new. Reading is a powerful way to find out who you really are.