Posts Tagged ‘school library’

Save Wootton Fields LibraryYesterday I visited Caroline Chisholm School in Northampton, a modern school incorporating primary and secondary. After giving a talk to the creative writing students, I was given a tour, and dropped into the library (Wootton Fields) to donate a couple of copies of Darklands.

It’s an excellent, large, well stocked library, serving both the school and the public. Whilst chatting to the librarians it transpired that they are under notice of being closed down within a couple of months, as a cost saving exercise. The large book stock will be replaced by a temporary mobile library.

Really? This is what the council wants to save money on? One large library serving the public, a secondary school and a primary school? Which was shortlisted for Library of the Year by the Bookseller Industry Awards 2012? Which as well as the usual library services also provides many events and activities throughout the year?

Astonishing. And utterly depressing. Surely no one doubts that childrens education is one of the last places cuts should be made? And surely no one doubts that a library is absolutely crucial to providing education?

Libraries matter – and none more so than school libraries. One of the campaign’s supporters told me yesterday,

“The library is used by people of all ages – all members of the community. Families use it together.”

Wootton Fields Library only has a few weeks to make its case. They’d really appreciate anyone helping out any way they can. You can find them on Facebook, and on Twitter, @woottonlibrary.

A rally is planned outside the library building for Sunday July 8 at 2pm. I won’t be able to go, as I’ve returned home to Derbyshire now. I hope it doesn’t rain on them :-S

*UPDATE: 80 supporters turned up for the rally on sunday afternoon, despite the weather AND the tennis!*

Many dozens of authors have already given their support to the campaign to save Wootton Fields Library, including Anne Fine, Julia Golding, Malorie Blackman, Meg Rosoff, and Marcus Sedgwick.

You can add your support by signing the e-petition here.

You can also contact members of the County Council to register your unhappiness about the proposed closure:

Councillor Heather Smith (Cabinet Member responsible for Libraries) hsmith@northamptonshire.gov.uk
Councillor Joan Kirkbride (Deputy Leader of the Council) jkirkbride@northamptonshire.gov.uk
Countillor Phil Larratt (County Councillor for our ward) cllr.plarratt@northampton.gov.uk

Or you could contact the local press in Northampton to tell them how you feel about the proposed closure. Contacts below:

The Northampton Chronicle & Echo, Callum Jones, callum.jones@northantsnews.co.uk
Anglia TV news. Katrina Rattigan, katrina.rattigan@itv.com. Please also CC in anglianews@itv.com
BBC Radio Northampton, Willy Gilder, willy.gilder@bbc.co.uk. Please also CC in laura.cook@bbc.co.uk
BBC Look East TV news, lookeast@bbc.co.uk

Thanks for any help.

Today I’ve been to visit a creative writing group at Caroline Chisholm School, Northampton.

I had prepared plenty of material in advance. I wrote myself crib notes on index cards. I found a short passage to read from Darklands. But I had no idea how long it would actually take me to deliver it all. Well, that’s not entirely true. The one thing I knew for sure was that my reading took three and a half minutes. I did a lot of timed readings when I was preparing for my talk on the radio a few weeks back.

I was given an hour, just before lunch. I had fifteen cards filled with subject headings and cryptic notes. A sample index card:

Writers & Artists Yearbook
Listings. Articles. Publishers > Slush pile > Agents (short cut?)
Agents > slush pile! But get help.
Submission criteria.

I knew that the length of time I could talk would very much depend on how much I relaxed into my role and became garrulous. It might take an hour – or maybe I’ll whizz through it all in ten minutes with a terrified rictus grin frozen onto my face?

After a slightly shaky start, I relaxed sufficiently to discuss most of the stuff on my cards. Though I somehow managed to miss out the whole slush pile bit from the card quoted above.

In the end I spoke for about 35 minutes, then invited questions. The teachers had primed the kids well and they had plenty to ask. What’s your favourite book? Do you find it hard to get ideas? Did you always want to be a writer? Nice easy stuff.

The scariest bit was right at the end. With ten minutes to spare I was invited to mingle and chat with the kids. Freestyle? Off-piste?? Unscripted???

*The cold, cold fear*

Some of the kids showed me stories they had written – a surprising number had written horror stories about killer clowns, one of which had ‘mouldy looking teeth.’ A nice detail, I thought.

I’ve also donated two copies of Darklands to the school library – which is in danger of being closed down by the local authorities.

Really?? Schools don’t need libraries now? (You can find out how to help their cause by visiting their facebook page)

One of the kids asked if I’d had any bad reviews, and I said that I hadn’t, but kind of wished I had. “It doesn’t seem like you’re a real writer until you’ve been absolutely slated.” Hmm, that sounds dangerously like an invitation, doesn’t it? I wonder if I’ll come to regret it..? :-S