This month I take a look back at some of the highlights from the SLA/YLG Weekend Course. It was only a few weeks ago, but lots has been happening
This month I take a look back at some of the highlights from the SLA/YLG Weekend Course. It was only a few weeks ago, but lots has been happening in the meantime – I’ll give you some of those highlights at the end. Before I start on that, some of you may be aware that we have moved to a new finance system. This has caused a slight delay in some of the invoices reaching you, but things should be flowing again. If you need your invoice urgently and don’t think you’ve had it, or if there’s someone better placed to send it to over the summer holidays, please let us know.
Well, the weekend started as it meant to go on, with Aston Conference Centre looking resplendent in the glorious summer sunshine – the courtyard was a big draw throughout the days, with people eating breakfast and enjoying a late night drink. It really added an extra layer to the weekend, and helped prevent that conference cabin fever that can happen. The exhibitors, who were spread around the courtyard, certainly liked it!
I missed some of the sessions for organisational purposes, but I made sure I was there for Ade’s session. He was the first speaker booked, and I had been looking forward to hearing his talk for a long time! Despite a slight hiccup with the powerpoint (sorry Ade!) he was brilliant, talking about what had got him to this point, and his reading from the book was absolutely excellent – leading to a huge queue for sales and signing!
Nicola Morgan was as brilliant as always, with powerful insight and helpful tips and hints. Her postcards went down well, and are typical of the research and consideration for her audience that Nicola always brings.
The evening was a delight – with Tom Pollock speaking about his new book Heartstream, a delightful ‘Libraries are a magic place’ dinner, and rounded off with an entertaining and honest look at being a micropublisher from Sam Hutchinson of b-small.
Unfortunately I didn’t get to see many of the sessions on the Saturday morning (plus I couldn’t give all the best bits away otherwise you’ll not want to read the round up in the next TSL!) but I did manage to see the lovely video from Karl Newson (who couldn’t be there on the day) and Ross Collins did a fantastic job talking all about their ‘I am a Tiger’ collaboration (on a side note, weren’t the lanyards amazing?!).
After Ross came Natasha Devon – a brilliant and engaging person, who speaks with such passion and thought. The session was fantastic and very thought provoking.
The Saturday evening was celebration time! Watching the videos from the Honour List of the School Librarian of the Year, having the YLG Awards presented, hearing the incomparable Jackie Morris accept her Kate Greenaway Medal and then our after dinner speaker was SLA President Chris Riddell. Much laughter and entertainment was finished off on a positive note – that he does believe there is hope in the next generation, and that we are essential in enabling young people to be the solution.
Sunday morning was another lovely morning with Savita Kalhan talking about her book for the breakfast crowd, and then Anne from National Literacy Trust looking at the stats about school library use which provided some interesting insights!
Holly Bourne’s powerful talk about relationships and her new book brought home to a lot of the audience exactly how important realistic portrayals are – for better and worse, but Holly had clearly put a lot of thought into how to tackle this subject without putting readers at risk.
Unfortunately, the excitement over a restricted number of proof books and a significant signing queue meant that we started late for the rest of session, and never quite managed to catch up.
The SLA AGM, while not a highlight, was important. We discussed the issues the Association is facing, with an income that is continuing to decline and, while we fully appreciate the seriousness of the situation, continuing to reduce our expenditure is going to lead to a ‘race to the bottom’. We cannot advocate, recruit new members, visit branches, or create new partnerships without expenditure in these areas, and without these the Association will fail.
The Trustees took the decision to put forward a proposal to raise membership fees by a small amount - £6 for most members – to give us some financial security going forwards. This will not come into force until April 2020. For this year we are launching a few new projects in September, which we are hopeful will add value to the SLA membership, and bring in new income. We are also looking at other ways we can raise income, as well as curbing expenditure on less important things (though expenditure has tended to be less than anticipated for the past few years).
I hope you’ll understand that this is a reluctant but necessary step – while the SLA has sufficient reserves to cover losses for a while, these won’t last forever and using our savings would also mean we could not use them to do things that will push the sector forward and help change some of the issues we are facing.
And that pretty much rounds up the SLA weekend course. I was really disappointed not to get into the Sunday sessions, and from looking at the evaluation forms I know I missed a treat, but I am really glad that all the delegates (a whooping 174 people!) who attended over the course of the weekend and a fab 41 exhibitors led to a fantastic weekend for all. Thank you to all who came, spoke, organised, or participated in any way.
Since then I have attended a Fake News debate hosted by Britannica Encyclopedia, spoken to teachers and library staff about Great School Libraries, and attended a meeting of the Gloucestershire SLS. I’ve also attended an education research conference in the eastern region, spoken at the CILIP Conference in Manchester and the SLA has celebrated the SLYA Honour List and attended the CLiPPA Awards! So believe me when I say we are more determined than ever to spread awareness of the SLA and the power of school libraries far and wide.
Hope you all have a lovely summer when you get there!