What winning meant to me.

I began using the school library when I joined Aylsham High School in year seven. It was a place I felt comfortable and at ease. In fact I spent all my spare time there, reading my favourite fiction, researching and doing my homework. I became a fixture. As I approached year eight, the librarian spoke to me and told me I would make a fabulous pupil librarian. Following some initial instruction, I was soon issuing books and dealing with returned books. Getting my hands on as many new books as possible, in fact my library book loan quota had to be increased.

As time progressed Mrs Walker, the school librarian, gave me more responsibility. I found myself meeting and hosting author events in school, researching and helping purchase new library stock. Advertising library events, for example, Bookbuzz, World Book Day events, book sales and generally promoting the library, plus helping students to find books, research materials and recommending books to read for pleasure.

The library is somewhere I feel comfortable, my second home. I love historical fiction, or as I sometimes call it, “Hysterical fiction”.I have many authors who I love to read, Mary Hoffman’s, The Stravaganzer series, being one of my favourites, Bracelet of Bones by Kevin Crossley-Holland and V111 by H.M. Castor are others I have enjoyed.

In October 2014 Mrs Walker told me she would like me to write a short statement in order to enter for the Pupil Library Assistant of the Year Award. Receiving the news that I had been shortlisted for the award, was a wonderful feeling. I had put together a statement with the encouragement of the librarian and really didn’t think I would be shortlisted, so I was a little excited.

Following a long journey from Norwich we arrived in London about 12.30pm and made our way to the BT Centre, where we waited to be collected for the event. We were all pretty nervous. After about a half hour we were led to the room where the event was to be held. There I was greeted by Barbara Band and many others, I felt a little strange and uncomfortable. We found our seats and someone tapped my shoulder. It was Caroline Lawrence, she told me she was my author for the day and was going to speak on my behalf. We exchanged many details, which she shared with the audience which included the other finalists and librarians, plus authors, sponsors and CILIP members.

Winning the award has given me confidence and I feel as if I could now achieve anything I set my mind to. I look back on this achievement, and know that my future is bright. As the announcement was made, I felt like a star on winning, not quite able to believe I had won. Walking towards Charlie Higson, to collect the award it felt rather surreal, Me! Abbie, a winner, meeting Charlie Higson. My knees went weak and my mouth dry. Mum and Dad joined Mrs Walker, the librarian, my sister and myself to the award. Mum had tears in her eyes, Dad was speechless and Mrs Walker looked as if she was going to burst with excitement.

The award was stunning, a glass engraved book, I could hardly believe this was for me. Then I was presented with a fabulous illustration by Chris Riddell, which he had drawn especially for the winner, this now hangs in pride of place beside my stock of 300 books, with the award displayed on the very rare space on my shelf.

My mind reeling, the other six finalists joined me at front stage, where we all received a bag of books from one of the sponsors, Macmillan Books. After the presentation we mingled with authors, sponsors and other finalists and were given books from the attending authors, who then signed them.

When I returned to school I couldn’t pass anyone without them congratulating me. Staff and students alike were happy for me. I left Aylsham High School this year, starting college in September, studying Horticulture.

Over the final months at Aylsham High School I was regularly introduced to prospective students and parents which gave me the opportunity to support and demonstrate what our library has to offer and the wonderful places they are.

My time at Aylsham High School will always remain a positive and productive time of my life, where I learned to work in a team, both working and socially. It has helped me grow as a person and realise my potential. Winning the Pupil Library Assistant of the Year award was the highlight of my school career.

I think this award will change attitudes toward pupil librarians, recognising their valuable input to our school libraries and the importance of libraries. I know school librarians appreciate the help students give them. This award is a wonderful way to celebrate students’ help and participation. I want to thank CILIP, the sponsors, authors and Mrs Walker, Aylsham High School Librarian, for believing in me and giving me the chance to shine.

Abbie Craske

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