But there's another reason why contemporary authors love libraries and that's the regional books awards. These annual or bi-annual events select recently published titles and bring together schools, clubs and families to vote for their favourites.
There are some well established ones, like the Leeds and Sheffield awards, there are some that are specific to new authors, like the Heart of Hawick or the New Horizons Book award, there are others that are just starting out (Hi, Warwickshire Junior Book Award!). But what all of these awards have in common is the dedicated professionals behind them working hard to encourage reading. They might be county or school's service librarians, or even teachers with responsibility for the school library and they work hard to bring new books to new readers.
As an author, I am immensely grateful for that.
|(l-r) Gill Lewis, Fiona Dunbar, Elen Caldecott|
By having these awards, librarians bring the best in contemporary publishing to the forefront and give those works a chance to vie against the classics for children's attention.
I've been lucky enough to be shortlisted for a few of the regional awards - I rarely win, but I will always turn up at the ceremony and I'll always say thank you. Whether I win, or not, my books have been given a chance to meet readers. What more can a writer ask for?
|Gill on stage|
And while the booze was lovely, the best thing about this award process was getting this review from one of the participants:
"I am not someone that reads all the time but with this book i did. This book gave me a big step in my reading but the book was so good it made me want to read all the three books [nominated for the award]".
My book, my book, has made a reader out of a non-reader. Flipping heck. And the librarians who organised this award made that happen.
So, this is my very public thank you to librarians in all our regions - long may you be there.
Elen will be appearing at the Explore! Children's Festival in Cardiff on 11th April.
For more info about Elen and her books, go to:
Elen's Facebook Page