Thing 2

Pretend you are interviewing your favourite author/actor/celebrity. Write a list of seven (7) questions you would ask them about how they ended up in their chosen career. Remember you only have 15 minutes. Don’t overthink it.

  1. Why did you leave the nuclear industry?
  2. What was it like working as a local journalist in the 70’s?
  3. How did you write ‘Carpet People’?
  4. When you had the idea for the Discworld, did you see it would become what it has?
  5. Who is your favourite character?
  6. What was your favourite book as a child?
  7. Why does Death have such a large part in the Discworld books?

Now, ask yourself those questions about your career as a librarian. Write down or type out your answers. Again, take no longer than 15 minutes.

(These are different questions!)

1. When was the first time you were aware of libraries?

From when I was young (since I can remember), I was taken to our tiny local public library, borrowed books, read them, and returned them – three or four times a week. I came to understand that this was a gateway to books of all kinds, and I could read almost anything in there.

2. At that time, did you understand what a librarian did?

No – stamping and re-shelving books seemed to be what they did. Everything else was behind the scenes, and not obvious to a six year old!

3. What was the first library you worked in?

When I was at college, I spent several weeks doing work experience in the college library, and got to see what librarian did behind the scenes – stock selection, helping students with research, developing collections, pushing information literacy, working with staff to make sure the books students needed were available, and much more. At this point, I decided that libraries were a place I’d like to work.

4. What sector do you work in now?

I’m a primary school librarian in a quite large primary school in West Yorkshire, England. I’ve been there since November 2014, and we are currently on the throes of developing a new library.

5. How did you get there?

After college, I trained as a teacher, then went to work in a middle school as a classroom assistant and ICT technician. About 10 years later, with the school having become a secondary school in the meantime, I was very ill and couldn’t get up the steps to the ICT office. As a result, I became based in the library, noticed there were virtually no books, and decided that the children deserved more. Three years later, I had developed the library to such a level that the school needed a librarian – and I was the best option!

6. As a school librarian, what do you do to promote literacy

Promoting literacy is pretty much the job description of a primary school librarian.  I organise author visits, both ‘physical’ and ‘virtual’, using Skype, competitions, run book clubs, Chatterbooks, and more. I work with the literacy coordinator and the rest of the staff, because the library isn’t just an English resource, it’s a whole school resource, and react to what the children want. I’ve also worked with literature festivals, other schools, publishers, and more.

7. What organisations are you a member of, or do you find useful. I was a member of the Schools Library Association for a long time, and that was very useful – especially their weekend conference. I’m a member of CILIP, and work closely with the National Literacy Trust, Book Trust, and anyone else who produce interesting materials and ideas!

Remove the questions and redraft what you have written so that it makes sense without the questions being there.

I became aware of libraries, and their power, when I was young (in fact, I’ve been into libraries since I can remember). I was taken to our tiny local public library, borrowed books, read them, and returned them – three or four times a week. I came to understand that this was a gateway to books of all kinds, and I could read almost anything in there.

At the time, I thought that stamping and re-shelving books seemed to be what librarians did. Everything else was behind the scenes, and not obvious to a six year old!

Years later, when I was at college, I spent several weeks doing work experience in the college library, and got to see what librarian did behind the scenes – stock selection, helping students with research, developing collections, pushing information literacy, working with staff to make sure the books students needed were available, and much more. At this point, I decided that libraries were a place I’d like to work. Then things took a left turn, into ICT. After college, I trained as a teacher, then went to work in a middle school as a classroom assistant and ICT technician. About 10 years later, with the school having become a secondary school in the meantime, I was very ill and couldn’t get up the steps to the ICT office. As a result, I became based in the library, noticed there were virtually no books, and decided that the children deserved more. With small amounts of funding from the head teacher, three years later, I had developed the library to such a level that the school decided it needed a librarian – and I was the best option! I did that for five years, including time as a member of the CILIP SLG (School Library Group) national committee, and learned a huge amount, despite fighting against senior management for a lot of the time.

Now, I’m a primary school librarian in a quite large primary school in West Yorkshire, England. I’ve been there since November 2014, and we are currently on the throes of developing a new library. The role largely involves promoting literacy, which is pretty much the  job description of a primary school librarian – certainly as far as parents are concerned.  I organise author visits, both ‘physical’ and ‘virtual’, using Skype, competitions, run book clubs, Chatterbooks, and more. I work with the literacy coordinator and the rest of the staff, because the library isn’t just an English resource, it’s a whole school resource, and react to what the children want. I’ve also worked with literature festivals, other schools, publishers, and more.

There are a large number of useful literacy organisations, and organisations specifically aimed at librarians – I was a member of the Schools Library Association for a long time, and that was very useful – especially their weekend conference. I’m a member of CILIP, and work closely with the National Literacy Trust, Book Trust, and anyone else who produce interesting materials and ideas!

Being a school librarian isn’t always easy, particularly in a secondary school where you can get little support. However, seeing the light in a child’s eyes when they find a book or an author they love makes it worth it!

Last Day…

Off to the airport for the 10:10 flight to Lusaka with Cathrine and Caroline. Turns out that although we’re going from the same place to the same place, Cathrine and I are on different planes all the way!

Lusaka Airport is more of a ‘real’ international airport in the international bit – a few shops, and a working departure board. Johannesburg Airport – met the girls again, bought books and T-shirts before flying back to Heathrow and then onto Manchester. It’s a long way, but I’d recommend South African Airways’ food and overall service!

The end (for now!)

Cathrine worked with Y7 at Marimba to produce an iPad book on their  school, who are going to link with her school in Leicester. We worked with grades 2, 3 and 7. 2 & 3 were great (the Very Hungry Caterpillar and Where’s My Teddy). It was the last day of term, so there were smaller numbers for Grade 7 (15 in total), but a good time – as ever – was had by all. After dropping the girls off at the airport for a night in Pioneers Camp in Lusaka before flying back, back to base for packing, and a final bar meal with Sarah and Douglas (which for some reason took two and a half hours to arrive..)

Thursday – Becca, Alice and Rosie’s last full day, so goodbyes in order. Only two days to go until everyone’s gone…

Mfuwe Basic – the primary school which shares its campus with Mfuwe Day, the local secondary school. The children (all Grade 4) were great. We talked about bears, did a bear quiz and made bear masks. Also performed the ‘Little Red Hen’ (I was the Mouse) for the five children who turned up to the last session. It was great to be inside a ‘real’ classroom with a whiteboard!

After lunch, went to the Kenneth Kaunda centre, which gives free seeds, seedlings and advice to local farmers, and sells vegetables and fruit to the Safari Lodges. It’s run by a former scientist named Lyson, who’s also an expert on malaria, mosquitoes and the tetse fly. Always fascinating to hear a reall expert talking sbout what he does. We had juice made from the leaves of the Sweet Potato plant (unusual smoky taste, very sweet, but very high in vitamin A), and left with 5 huge, and slightly under-ripe, Papaya.

Last night dinner for the girls – rice, chicken, vegetable and papaya. Shared favourite memories of the two weeks. Just one more day!

If it’s Wednesday, it must be Kakumbi – the furthest school from Mfuwe, but full of engaged, committed children and staff. This time, grades 4, 5 and 6. A great day. The children were clever, well disciplined, friendly (as were the staff) and interested. Considering it’s as far off the beaten track as it’s possible to get (20 minutes down a tarmac road, 40 minutes down what’s basically a track), the journey was well worth it!

After a great day, another night drive – this time, we saw two leopards. One in daylight, and one at night. Also lots of elephants, hippo, zebra, hyena, genets, and a broken safari vehicle. The staff (from Flatdogs) were trying to push the vehicle, but the wheels weren’t going around. Moses, our driver, thought it was the flywheel (we didn’t just leave them to the animals – they were awaiting rescue when we left!). All this in Croc Valley’s newest vehicle, with a great driver.

Chipembele

In the afternoon, we visited the base of Chipembele, the organisation who fund Eunice and Ben at Mfuwe Day, and built the classroom the Girls Club use. It’s miles out in the country, and is run by two former police officers from the UK who moved to Zambia to start an animal and environmental education centre. They showed us the classroom, the library and the interpretive displays – bones, snares, poop and other anima;-related ephemera. We also saw the adventure playground, and lvarious animals they were looking after, including three monkeys. Chipembele, by the way, means Rhinoceros in the local language – it’s a reminder that there were Rhino in the Luangwa, but no longer…

Back for elephants before dinner. One rifled through our bin (full of other people’s rubbish) and another wandered around before they both wandered off – only to come back half an hour later.

Kids at Victory as great as ever. Despite it being their holiday, 45 of the 55 children turned up. James wasn’t there, and the children weren’t quite as well behaved as they usually were. Despite this, a good time was had by all – especially as Sarah had books to hand out to all the children, along with some to give to the school.

Great sessions at Uyoba with a mix of grades 2, 3 and 4 (and some others!). It’s a public holiday so we started earlier, and will finish early, so we’re then going on a tour of the local village). 150 children turned up despite it being the first day of their holiday. We did ‘We’re going on a Bear Hunt’, and it was good! Then a tour of the village near the school in the company of Mrs Zulu, the head teacher.

This was followed by a rare shopping opportunity! We went to Tribal Textiles near the airport, where they make hand painted textiles, and sell lots of other artefacts. Bought a small wall hanging and some postcards. Then onto Just Africa – founded by a German dentist and his Zambian wife, it’s an unusual combination – a dental clinic with accomodation and a craft story. the dentist has more ideas too – a mobile dental surgery and a maternity unit. 

Then back, via. Mayana and Mfuwe market for lunch at 4.30. Tomorrow, back to Victory!

Walking Safari. Just four of us in the end  Me, Helen, Cathrine and Caroline), with an armed guard. Interesting to get onto the ground in the park. We saw lots of different birds, various types of poop and footprints (including lions), and the remains of a long dead elephant. Back to camp at 10am to relax, clean up and start planning for tomorrow!

Just 6 days to go (including Saturday, which doesn’t really count as it’s basically travelling all day)

Saturday – early start (5am) for a 6am game drive through the park. Worth it though, as we came across a pride of 18 lions – two young males, lots of females and cubs. They’d killed a zebra earlier, and were devouring it. When we got there, they’d almost finished, with just the head and spine left.

Back for a snooze and lunch, then more relaxing in the afternoon. Then we cleaned out the book bus, and fitted everything in more securely (in theory – the test will be when we start bouncing down the roads!). an elephant, who presumably liked glitter, emptied everything out of the bin!

Tonight, a meal at a restaurant in town (Beef Fillet, chips and salad). Tomorrow, another early start for a walking safari in the park.