Tag Archives: awards

The book of the moment

It’s almost time for the announcement of this year’s Man Booker Prize winner!

Where to find the Book Awards section on Westminster Libraries catalogueIt’s not uncommon for individuals or book groups to use book awards as a personal challenge – a colleague in RBKC reads the Man Booker shortlist every year and shares her thoughts with the rest of the staff. Why not join her?

You can find the latest shortlists of all the main awards on the library catalogue itself, making it quick and easy to find out where the books are in stock or to place a reservation.

When a new shortlist comes out, we move the winners from the previous year to the ‘Prizewinning books’ list so that you can still find them.

Latest key dates for book awards:

  • 13 September: Man Booker Prize 2016 shortlist
  • 17 October: Baillie Gifford Prize (formerly the Samuel Johnson Prize) for non-fiction 2016 shortlist
  • 18 October: Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize 2016 shortlist
  • 25 October: Man Booker Prize 2016 winner
  • 15 November: Baillie Gifford Prize for non-fiction 2016 winner
  • 22 November: Costa Book Awards 2016 category shortlists

Book awards section on Westminster Libraries catalogue

Reading an article entitled ‘Literary prizes make books less popular, study finds‘ made me wonder why, if this was the case, why on earth anyone in the book industry – authors, publishers or booksellers – continues with the whole awards malarkey? It depends on your definition of ‘popular’. The conclusion of the 2014 study was that sales increase, the book reaches a wider audience than it might otherwise, and those readers may not have chosen the book because it appeals to them but simply because it has won a prize. Therefore the proportion of negative reviews increases – the book is less popular in terms of good reviews, but still more popular in terms of increased sales / borrowing from libraries. If they can cope with the poor reviews, the authors can enjoy the kudos of the award, the prize money, and the revenue from increased sales, as well as the knowledge that their work is being seen by large numbers of people.

A Song of Ella Grey by David Almond Neurotribes by Steve Silberman A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James

If you’re an avid reader, sometimes it’s good to have your tastes challenged, either by reading a book that’s won an award or that is recommended by someone whose tastes may not align with your own. An online book group I belonged to once held a ‘reading challenge’, where peoples were assigned a book by other members that went against their preferences. I was given some ‘chick lit’ (I quite enjoyed it) and I challenged a friend who hated biographies and war stories to read Vera Brittain’s Testament of Youth (sadly, it didn’t change her mind – but she read it!).

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge One by Sarah Crossan The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neila Gaiman, illustrated by Chris Riddell

Why not use our handy book lists or even some of the Staff Picks on this blog to find yourself or your children a new, award winning book to read?



Reading Ahead for success

Over 200 Westminster readers won special recognition for completing the Reading Ahead challenge 2016.

Reading Ahead poster 2015-16Reading Ahead (formerly The Six Book Challenge) is a nationwide challenge from The Reading Agency inviting participants to pick six reads – anything from books and magazines to website articles – and record, rate and review them in a reading diary. The programme is designed to help less confident readers improve their reading skills and is run locally by Westminster Libraries and Westminster Adult Education Service (WAES), particularly encouraging readers with English as a second language to take part. Last year, over 48,000 people took part across the UK.

In Westminster, 746 people participated in this year’s challenge, with 221 receiving the completion certificate. For the third consecutive year Church Street Library led the field with 149 completers, thanks to a great partnership with WAES and Working Men’s College who deliver their Community ESOL classes at the library.

Westminster Reading Ahead awards ceremony, July 2016

Westminster participants celebrated their success at a special event in July with author Diane Sherlock, who said:

“I was much moved and impressed by your wonderful readers. And by what you all have achieved.”

We’d like to express thanks and congratulations to everyone who took part in the challenge, including the library and WAES staff members who worked so hard at every stage from initial promotion through to the final ceremony. And thanks to Diane for her enthusiasm and support. Here’s some pictures of the happy participants receiving their certificates:

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Councillor David Harvey, Westminster City Council Cabinet Member for Sports and Leisure said:

“Reading is a vital skill and it’s wonderful to see so many people in Westminster take part and develop their confidence. I hope that all participants continue to build on their success and help spread the joy of reading in their communities.”

If you or someone you know are interested in taking part next year, please contact your local library. And in the meantime, why not get your children into the reading habit – it’s not too late for them to join this year’s Summer Reading Challenge!

Westminster Reading Ahead awards ceremony, July 2016


“And the Award goes to…”

Ruth Walters with the Westminster Music Library IAML Excellence Award certificate 2016On Saturday 2 April, in a swish hotel on the outskirts of Manchester, during this year’s International Association of Music Libraries (IAML) annual conference, we paused while the red carpet was laid out and the assembled delegates were transformed with sparkly frocks, frightening ‘up dos’ and slick tuxedos… well maybe not quite that sparkly, but The BAFTAs, The Oscars, The Grammys, none of them can hold a candle to The IAML Excellence in Music Libraries Awards.

A host of IAML delegates were assembled to celebrate the fantastic achievements of colleagues representing music libraries of all shapes and sizes across the UK and Ireland; no matter what their sector or type.

Some aspire to greatness, and others achieve it. In the music library world there are some folks who just keep getting better and better at providing all manner of services for their customers, whether they are tiny tots, learned professors, or all manner of people, young and old, in-between. Some have forged successful partnerships, devised innovative events programmes or organised fascinating exhibitions, others have achieved new levels of co-operation with schools and universities or are recognised for their special collections or outreach programmes. One thing’s for sure, all these award winning libraries are impressive, and demonstrate the dedication and passion of library staff determined to provide their customers with the best music library service they can.

The other thing about the IAML “Biennale” is it gives everyone an opportunity to adopt and adapt some of the work that the Award winners are so skilled at doing. We all know that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and following someone’s good work and good practice is surely the most flattering pat on the back of all.

The nominations for this year’s Awards were judged by a panel of experts from both the music and library worlds, chaired by Jan Smaczny, Professor Emeritus of Music, Queen’s University, Belfast.

Professor Jan Smaczny, Chair of the IAML (UK & IRL) awards panelMusic libraries play a key role in supporting the study, performance and enjoyment of music and underpin the vibrant diverse musical life and heritage in the UK and Ireland and, as Professor Smaczny has said,

“the very musical infrastructure of the United Kingdom and Ireland depends fundamentally on the work of music librarians”.

And who are we to argue with the good Prof?

And finally, I must ‘blow the trumpet’ for Westminster Music Library, as we were indeed honoured with our fourth Excellence Award, which I was both delighted and proud to accept on behalf of my wonderful team.  Here’s why we were selected:

The service was particularly commended for its proactive working in seeking out new projects and partnerships, which engage with both users and potential users. The expert staffing levels and training offered to both staff and the public were also commended, as was the excellent stock and publicising of the service.  The panel felt that the library is a ‘national resource’ and a benchmark for ‘excellence’.

Thank you IAML, we are absolutely thrilled, and it is nice to wear a frock occasionally…


IAML Study Weekend 2016  IAML Excellence Award certificate 2016

Ruth didn’t mention the whole story above – we’re very pleased and proud to say that she also won a personal acheivement award:

“The judging panel recognised that Ruth continues to bring energy, enthusiasm, creativity and professionalism to both Westminster Music Library and more widely to IAML (UK & Irl).  Under her management WML – one of the UK’s leading public music libraries – continues to take on new challenges in creative partnership working, event organising, and delivering an excellent music library service to its members.  So much of what Ruth – and WML – does is Excellent and a benchmark for others to be inspired by and follow.  One recent project of note is a partnership with the Armed Forces in which Ruth secured funding from the Ministry of Defence to set up a choir ‘Joint Force Singers’ with Westminster’s Armed Forces.  Ruth’s ongoing events programmes, community partnerships and fundraising have raised the profile of a specialist music service in the community, introducing new customers – children and adults – to the world of music.”
– from the IAML blog

Congratulations to Ruth and team once more!

Longlist, shortlist, Winner!

More than this by Patrick NessHave you seen our Book Awards page?
We’ve gathered all the contenders and winners of the UK’s most popular literary awards in one place! So if you’re keen to read a whole shortlist, want to know what all the fuss is about a particular winner, or are just looking for a great book to read – take a look. All our book lists link straight in to the library catalogue, so you can find out which libraries hold copies of the book you’re after and whether they’re available (you can reserve from here too).

The book awards we feature include the Man Booker, Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, the Specsavers National Book Award and many more.

Book Awards page on WCC library catalogue

H is for Hawk by Helen MacdonaldH is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald won both the Costa Book of the Year Award and the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction. It’s the extraordinary story of the author coping with her grief following the death of her father by acquiring a goshawk called Mabel and a year-long plan to tame and train her to hunt.

Jim's Lion by Russell hobanIn June we will find out the winners of the CILIP / Carnegie and CILIP / Kate Greenaway Medals (for children’s writing and illustration respectively). In the meantime, the always excellent shortlisted books for each prize are listed on the Book Awards page – including Jim’s Lion by Russell Hoban.

Each time a new shortlist is announced, the lists are refreshed – but we are gradually building a ’round up’ list of past prizewinners, so you can always be sure to find some great quality reading.

Borrow one today!


Celebrating Excellence

IAML (UK & Irl) presented Westminster Music Library with its institutional and individual Excellence Awards in a recent ceremony held at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge on Saturday 12 April 2014.

Ruth Walters of Westminster Music Library receiving the IAML Excellence Award 2014The Excellence Awards are presented every two years and acknowledge activity in music libraries which demonstrates sustained good work and good practice with the potential to be adopted and adapted by others.

The Awards also recognise outstanding personal achievement by individuals. Music collections from any sector in the UK and Ireland can be nominated for the Award, no matter what their sector, size or type.

The nominations for this year’s Awards were judged by a panel of experts from both the music and library worlds, chaired by Professor Jan Smaczny of Queen’s University, Belfast.

Music libraries play a key role in supporting the study, performance and enjoyment of music and underpin the vibrant diverse musical life and heritage in the UK and Ireland and, as Prof Smaczny has said,

“the very musical infrastructure of the United Kingdom and Ireland depends fundamentally on the work of music librarians. [Music libraries] look after communities, those who study music and perform, those who pass on their expertise through instrumental and vocal tuition; and those who simply enquire and enjoy.”

As well as a continued commitment to the development of its nationally regarded music collection, Westminster Music Library was particularly commended for the strong and varied partnerships developed with a variety of user groups – including children, the elderly and the homeless community as well as the partnership with the RPO which has culminated in the extensive Behind the Lines programme.

And my cover is blown…

Just to let you all know that today at the IAML conference, Westminster Music Library received the IAML Excellence Award AGAIN. Not only that, but Ruth herself received a Personal Achievement Award (she actually also received one 2 years ago, but kept it quiet!). No escape this time, Ruth! 
Very well deserved. Many congratulations!
– Pam Thompson


Apprentice of the Year

Sara - apprentice of the yearAnd the winner is….Sara Ashbourne!

Sara Ashbourne, apprentice at Victoria Library, has won the award for ‘Apprentice of the Year’. Sara received the award from Cllr Philippa Roe, Leader of Westminster City Council, at the breakfast briefing for “Better City, Better lives”. The Leader set out the council’s priorities for 2014/15 and provided an update on the council’s corporate vision.  The briefing was also an opportunity to celebrate the huge success of our apprenticeship scheme with an ‘Apprentice of the Year Award’.

The award went to Sara as she was able to demonstrate that she successfully supports the Council’s vision of Better City, Better lives and also demonstrates the Council’s values.

Sara’s contributions to Victoria Library have been invaluable. She has helped the library to meet many core objectives such as “increasing reading and learning opportunities for children and their families in Westminster”. Sara has the skills and ability to run and lead under 5 year old sessions. She has begun outreach sessions to the Cardinal Hume Centre’s nursery taking the library to the children.

Sara has also enhanced learning opportunities available to adults at Victoria library by setting up weekly computer training sessions for adults who have never used a computer before.

Sara has shown some wonderful skills and initiative in meeting many of the requirements and demands of today’s library users, and we’ve been honoured to have her on the team.


And the winner is… *

Clapper board / reels of filmWe’re starting to get exited here at Marylebone Library as the Oscar nominations are announced this week and we do love film! We don’t like to brag… but on this occasion we will: Last year we had pretty much a full house on the predictions, we had either bought or ordered virtually everything that was available on DVD on the shortlists in every category.

We have a real passion for world cinema and documentary so those are the categories we will be most interested in. Who could forget last year’s winner of the best documentary feature? Searching for Sugar Man – a story that draws you in and keeps you fascinated until the very end. Or Austria’s entry for best foreign language film (Amour) which was in French and directed by a Bavarian!

So what do we think for this year?
Our money is on one of the many outstanding films from our favourite documentary distributor Dogwoof. For best documentary we like:

  • Blackfish [DVD]Blackfish – the harrowing story of an Orca kept in captivity.
  • The Act of Killing – a bizarre tale of former Indonesian death squad leaders with designs on becoming movie stars as they attempt to retell their heinous crimes.
  • Leviathan – a compelling documentary that shows you the dangerous and gruelling world of the people who battle the elements to bring fish to our tables.

Our money for best foreign language film? It’s a toughie but we like The Great Beauty – Paulo Sorrentino’s stunning return to form sent in Rome. But our favourite is Saudi Arabia’s Wadjda – an uplifting coming of age story about a girl who simply wants to have the same freedom as boys, directed by newcomer Haifer al-Mansour.

Why not seelwhat you think – all of these films are available to borrow at Marylebone Library (Wadjda will be available when it is released on 3 February).

[Helen and Hilary]

* Yes, we know we’ve used this title before. But who could resist?