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Meeting 1

First librarians’ business meeting of the year so it had to cover a lot of ground, including:

  • the new trust which includes Public Libraries, which will mean a lot of things changing and a lot of things staying the same;  which is which, will no doubt be revealed as time passes;
  • discussions on the impact of Added Value Units:
    • levels of collaboration with teaching staff;
    • the startling increase in demands for resources of a wildly varying nature (to allow for pupils’ choices in topics);
    • the need for far greater information literacy skills;
    • and why so many people think information equals the internet.
  • plans for the coming twelve months:
    • World War I commemorations
    • the summer reading scheme
    • Book Week Scotland
    • Writer in Residence plans
  • sharing Scottish Learning Festival experiences and handing out resources;
  • a presentation from Ian McCracken on information literacy assumptions;
  • and finally, a good look around the new library of our host (which is rather good!)

Meeting 2

Those of us involved with Catalyst then hared off to a different school to meet up with our colleagues for one of the most important meetings of the year: creating the longlist.

The longlist is the whole point of Catalyst. While our criteria for selection certainly reduces the number of possible titles, we have to decide on twelve books, and only twelve, that can be held up as the best writing around that year; books that make our target audience drool to get their hands on them, and then want to keep reading. Guaranteed we’ll never please everybody, but we’ve got to try.

So we discussed the merits of our extended list, and tried to get down to a reasonable number from which to make our final decisions. Not that it’s just adult opinions that count. Asking the forthcoming Catalyst groups in school for their opinions and suggestions only makes sense and visits to the Edinburgh Book Festival, where authors had promoted their new wares, provided us with many helpful reactions, so the teenage voice came across loud and clear.

All of this went into the mix and the arguments, sorry, professional analysis and critique, passed back and forth, until we were all exhausted. Besides, blurbs are bad for your health. You can have too many ‘searing tales‘, ‘terrible secrets‘ and ‘unearthly powers‘ you know.  And if one more author sets their ‘moving story‘ of ‘first love‘ in a ‘sleepy village‘  during a ‘long hot summer‘, I may go down with a bad case of cliche-blurbitis.

It’s not remotely easy, but it’s damn good fun. Several hundred down, just twenty or so to go.