CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway

The Second Year Blues

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Matt Imrie is the librarian at Farringtons School, Chislehurst and the YLG London judge.

At the end of the first year of judging I believe it is common to all judges to feel a bit of trepidation, or even fear at the thought of year two (or it could just be me). This can be due to a number of reasons – reading burn out (rare, but it does happen), or more commonly the thought that for the first year you have had plenty of time to read just about everything in the run up to the nominations, so that by the time the nominations list is made public you have already read a fairly large chunk of what is there.

Year two is different, as you are still reading the long and short lists so reading potential nominees is not usually an option.

This year of judging has been particularly challenging to me for one particular, baby-shaped reason – my new daughter Aggie. Her arrival coincided with the judges training in Scotland so I missed that (and the YLG Conference), handy tip for anyone considering becoming a judge for the CKG Medals – DO NOT MISS THE TRAINING – the first year is vital and the second year is just as important, I only realised this after the event as there is so much that gets forgotten in a year. Fortunately the judge moderation panel has been very swift in recapping things for me during the long-listing.

I had thought that having a baby would not be a problem as I could read in the wee hours when I was comforting my precious child if she was having trouble sleeping or needed a burp after a late-night feed. It would be magical, I could hold the light of my life and read at the same time.

I can hear the laughter from here!

Needless to say that did not happen, I got no reading done when my daughter was awake and I was holding her – who can read when the most beautiful being in creation is in your arms? Not me anyway!

The reading got done when she was asleep in my lap or on my chest, I got adept at holding a book in one hand and her hand in my other when she was in her crib. I read before school started, during my lunch-breaks and those times when I could not sleep and every other available moment that presented itself!

“But Matt!” I hear you cry, “this post is called the Second Year Blues, and so far it sounds wonderful – what do you have to feel blue about?”

Well, I will tell you! This is my second year as a judge, and judges only sit for two years. I realised it as I sat down to discuss the long-listing of the nominations with fellow library professionals – this task that we do, selecting the most outstanding books in a year is something bigger than all of us – in my almost two years involvement with the judging of the medals I have met fellow librarians I only previously knew via email or twitter and together we became a small part of the history of Children’s Books and I do not want to stop being involved.

There is something else to feel blue about: the public library service in the UK has been decimated: https://twitter.com/mygibbo/status/676699067762802688

I know what it feels like to have my post deleted out from under me (this happened at the beginning of the austerity cuts in 2011) but I was lucky and was able to find a new job pretty promptly but with more libraries closing or being shoved into the hands of volunteers the deprofessionalisation of the service is a major threat not just to public libraries as a whole but also to the future of the CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Judging process – no libraries, no children’s librarians and no YLG Judges.

So if you have managed to read through to the bottom of this rather rambly post can I ask you to support the struggle to save the soul of the library service in the UK by supporting CILIP’s My Library by Right Campaign: http://www.cilip.org.uk/advocacy-campaigns-awards/advocacy-campaigns/my-library-right and sign the petition to save libraries:

https://www.change.org/p/john-whittingdale-hm-government-act-now-to-protect-my-statutory-rights-to-a-quality-public-library-service

We all grew up with libraries and I want my daughter to have the same experience – come on do it for her!

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