Thursday, 13 October 2011

Cake and Brass Plaques by Ann Evans

In these days of library closures and cut backs on spending, I was delighted to do two author visits to local schools recently both of which were also celebrating the opening of their new library.

One of the new school libraries had only been made possible by a substantial amount of money being left to the church by a parishioner in his will. Happily for the school, the church council decided to spend it on refurbishing and restocking the school library. Excellent decision!

For that special opening day, all the pupils dressed as characters from books. Cake and squash was laid on in the hall for all the children, and tea and cake for the school governors, church council and me!

Both events were just so lovely, and the pride and excitement of all the staff and kids was a joy to see.  Being given the honour of cutting the ribbons really brought a lump to my throat. It was just so nice to think that those first people through the doors into the libraries were the first of many hundreds of children and adults who would enjoy the facilities for years to come.

Something else was nice too – one of the schools had put up a brass plaque naming the benefactor who had made the library possible – with my name also inscribed as the person who had officially opened it. Was I chuffed? I should say so! I’ve never had a plaque before.

I’m writing this having just come back from another school visit and while it’s pretty exhausting I think it’s also one of the best things about writing – actually seeing the excitement and enthusiasm of the kids (and teachers) as we talk about books and writing. But I wonder if there will ever be that same excitement over ebooks.

Maybe when every class has its own ebook reader, and the children can browse the virtual libraries and choose which books to download and read together – maybe then there will be that sense of excitement. But so far in my experience, the mere mention of ebooks produces only blank looks from the kids and slightly disapproving expressions on the teachers’ faces.

Although, saying that, I have met two senior school librarians who have proudly told me that their library does actually now own a Kindle. 

I wonder if anyone else has had a more enthusiastic response when talking about ebooks on their school visits.

Perhaps its just a matter of time before primary school kids and teachers get into ebooks. Maybe then authors will be invited into schools to officially cut the ribbon off an electronic reader.

But will there still be tea and cake – or a brass plaque?
Let’s hope so!


Karen said...

How exciting Ann! I bet you felt like a real celebrity:) Would love to see a pic of the plaque :) I think you're right about ebooks though, when I talk to kids about them they look a bit blank.I guess they'll take a while to take off, things usually do. Maybe in the future libraries will loan out ereaders like they do DVDs.

Dan Holloway said...

Fabulous!! I've had plaque, but never *a* plaque.

Ann Evans said...

I wish I had taken a pic of it now, Karen. I didn't like to at the time - in case they thought me a bit sad!! There was a photographer there, but I haven't seen any pics yet. Love your idea of libraries loaning out ereaders. Maybe they wil in time.

Ann Evans said...

Dan ... ha ha!

Nicola Morgan said...

Ann - I blogged about the schools/kids/e-readers question last month on this blog ( and will be reporting further on my findings, as promised! But, essentially, yes, schools are getting kindles/e-readers and so are teenagers. And I'm not finding many blank looks from kids when I talk about it at school events nowadays. It's changing very fast and i think this Christmas will be the tipping point for teenagers and ebooks. We need to feed their reading habits and this is a great way.

madwippitt said...

How exciting! What a shame you didn't get pics of such a me4morable occasion.
What characters did the kids dress up as?

dirtywhitecandy said...

How lovely! And interesting question about ereaders and how they will change this experience. I can barely imagine it; what would school be like without the cavernous desks to hold our books, the great stacks of identical novels ready to be given out by the English teacher, each dog-eared and personalised in some slight way by the person who had it before.
Certainly those of us who write stories set in schools had better pay close attention!
Congratulations on your plaque. I bet it was not only a special day for you but for the readers in the school.

Ann Evans said...

Thank you everyone for your comments and Nicola sorry I didn't see your blog about ebooks and schools. It's good to hear that you're getting positive responses though. Probably Christmas will be a turning point. Lets hope kids everywhere are putting ereaders onto their Christmas wish lists!

Madwhippet - I wish I'd just whipped my camera out and took a pic of it. As for the costumes, there was all kinds of characters - a couple of Harry Potters, a Doctor Who, a Snow White but the most eye catching was a Hermione from Harry P who was an absolute dead-ringer!
It was a lovely day, lots of fun.

Catherine Czerkawska said...

You should have taken a pic of the plaque - How lovely!
I wonder if mild teacher disapproval is influencing the kids with regard to e-readers? I don't do many schools visits, but I had a tour of a new university campus a few weeks ago and the lecturers (I kid you not!) are not supposed to have books in their rooms. There are no bookshelves, but in a room for four, they have four little metal lockers, the kind that you get in swimming pools. No books, no papers are meant to clutter up the pristine surfaces. And much as I love eBooks, and all kinds of new technologies, I thought it was very sad. But it made me wonder what the young people would make of it all. The librarian told me that some students had expressed surprise. There are still books in the uni library, but not half as many as there once were. I think/hope kids will take to e-readers in a big way - certainly half the adults I know seem to be 'getting a Kindle for Christmas'. But I do hope we can still have both for a long time yet!

Debbie said...

I find school libraries much more accommodating than public libraries. I get dozens of review books - hardbacks and paperbacks. I don't read many of them. Can I donate them to the public library? No - they have no facilities for cataloguing etc etc. But school libraries welcome them with open arms.