Cath Skipper is the Librarian at Campbell College, Belfast.
You might be surprised to discover that there are parallels between trying to choose a winner for the CKG book awards and the current general election campaign happening in the UK.
While the CKG award is perhaps not as ruthless as politics and electioneering can sometimes be, I have found myself musing as much on the merits of the shortlisted CKG books as I have on my local candidates’ election literature. Just as I am judging the potential MPs and their manifestos in my area against my own personal criteria, I am rereading the shortlisted books with a close eye on the awards criteria, which are so vital to the judges in helping us decide which book most deserves to win each award. Watching the televised election debates reminded me of the discussions we have as judges about the merits of each title nominated for the award – although I have to say that ours are much less heated, as we are all very good at listening to the points that everybody makes. Our debates also tend to involve very nice tea and cake. I know which I would rather take part in!
I have really enjoyed listening to my own shadowing group’s reactions to the shortlisted titles, and also reading your views on the CKG Shadowing site. Just like the election’s opinion polls there does not yet seem to be one clear winner. Will there be a sudden swing towards one title as we get closer to the conclusion of the process in June?! Similarly, the judges are only able to discuss and vote for the books that were nominated. This is why it is so important that there is engagement with the award and with CILIP’s Youth Libraries Group (YLG) – our version of the electoral roll. If you’re not already a member consider joining your local YLG, and make sure the candidate that you would like to see win next year’s award is nominated (remember, any member of CILIP can nominate) – and perhaps even take part in the judging process yourself!
At the end of June I, along with half of the judging panel, will have finished my two year term of office as a judge. Being Northern Ireland’s representative on the judging panel has been both a privilege and an unforgettable experience. For now, we will discover who will make up the next Government in early May. As far as the CKG award winners are concerned, you have a little longer to wait. It’s still all to play for!