Living Knowledge blog

3 posts from June 2016

24 June 2016

CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Children's Book Awards at the British Library

It’s not often that you hear actual whoops of joy in the British Library (as opposed to reverent gasps of admiration), but there were plenty of cheers on 20th June during the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Children's Book Awards.

These annual awards are the UK’s oldest and most prestigious awards for children’s literature. Previous winners of the Carnegie include Arthur Ransome,  Margaret Mahy, and Terry Pratchett, and literary giants such as Raymond Briggs, Helen Oxenbury, Shirley Hughes and Quentin Blake have all won the Kate Greenaway Medal. 

SarahCrossanCILIPCarnegieMedalWinner&ChrisRiddellCILIPKateGreenawayMedalWinner(c)RolfMarriott-smallerAward winners Kate Crossan and Chris Riddell at the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Children's Book Awards, held at the British Library, 20 June. Photo by: Rolf Marriott.

An audience of readers, writers, librarians and publishers packed the British Library’s auditorium to the gills and ensured that the awards were a true celebration, not just of the shortlisted authors and illustrators, but also of the vital role of library and information professionals in making these works available to a diverse audience of readers.

I sat next to some of the young people who had been part of the shadowing process and it was a privilege to witness their enthusiasm for the shortlisted books and the passion and conviction with which they were willing to share their recommendations with me.  I duly got a copy of Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley and devoured half of it in one sitting after work.  This was the winner of the inaugural Amnesty CILIP Award in the Carnegie category, alongside There’s a Bear on My Chair by Ross Collins in the Kate Greenaway category, both awarded for the way they examined human rights issues.  As Amnesty International posted in their blog:

“The best books are more than plot and character: they have human rights at their core and are a vital tool in developing empathy. More than that, they can give children the awareness and confidence to stand up and shape a better world.”

Sarah Crossan won the Carnegie Award for One, with shouts of “YES” from the audience and Children’s’ Laureate Chris Riddell became the first person to win three Kate Greenaway awards with The Sleeper and The Spindle.  Both made passionate and inspiring speeches about the value of libraries.  You can watch the recording of the event here – don’t miss Chris Riddell’s live sketch [1:03:54] and Robin’s Ince’s final joyous flourish when he pulled out his own library card and declared [1:15:05] “Do you want to go on an adventure?”  Yes please.

Liz White

Head of Strategy Development


22 June 2016

Our Alice in Wonderland exhibition travels north to Newcastle

On Monday 9 May I set off from central London to transport the Library’s Alice in Wonderland exhibition north to The Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle. This second collaboration between the two institutions offered a unique opportunity to share treasures from the Library’s collections and private lenders with audiences in the North-East.

Entrance Graphic© Laing Art Gallery, Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums

Displayed across the Laing’s two galleries, the exhibition showcases how generations of illustrators, artists, filmmakers and designers have been inspired by Lewis Carroll’s classic tale. With additional objects from The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), London and The Laing’s own collections, this immersive exhibition features everything from a life sized Dodo to interactive computer games and iconic illustrations by Mervyn Peake, Leonard Weisgard and Salvador Dali. These unique and rare objects captivate adults and children alike, and draw audiences down their own rabbit hole of adventure.

Gallery View (1)© Laing Art Gallery, Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums

The Laing’s Exhibitions, Workshop, Conservation and Visitor Services Teams worked tirelessly for several months on the design and build of the exhibition. It took three days to install the fragile ceramic figurines, spinning tops and playing cards in time for its opening on Saturday 14 May 2016. Visitors who saw the exhibition here at St Pancras will recognise the fabulous Alice storybooks with their vivid imagery and colourful illustrations. It was wonderful that the exhibition’s original design elements could be reused by the Laing; it’s much more environmentally friendly. Where possible we always reuse graphics, showcases, bespoke mounts and props in our touring exhibitions.

Gallery View (2C)© Laing Art Gallery, Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums

Touring exhibitions are a relatively new venture for the Library and are incredibly rewarding in terms of extending the accessibly of our collections to a wider UK audience. They also have the added value of skills sharing and the strengthening of reciprocal relationships with regional museums, galleries and libraries. There’s a huge amount of thought that goes into the planning of a touring exhibition. Can all the objects be displayed at the venue? Does the venue have the required security and environmental conditions? What are the potential implications for the layout of the exhibition in the gallery? Can the original 3D and graphic design concepts be incorporated into this unique space? These discussions with partners run for months prior to, during and after the display of the exhibition.

The British Library’s Exhibitions team would like to thank the generous contributions of private lenders and the wider Library staff for making this tour possible.

‘Alice in Wonderland’ will be on display at The Laing Art Gallery until 2 October 2016. The Laing has a full and varied programme of public events throughout the run of the exhibition, which you can see on their website.

Mary Linkins

Exhibitions Production Coordinator


17 June 2016

Our plans for St Pancras – new caterer appointed

As mentioned previously on this blog, we are currently making a wide range of improvements to our site at St Pancras. The latest milestone in this extensive programme of activity is the appointment of a new caterer, Graysons, who will help provide a substantially improved food and drink offer for Readers and visitors in our public restaurant and cafés, as well as for members in our new membership space, due to launch later this year.

  The British Library Front Hall (credit Paul Grundy)

Feedback from Readers who completed last year’s catering survey helped inform the selection process. Graysons have a strong background in providing public and event catering and already serve the neighbouring Francis Crick Institute. They will take on the new contract in October.

The appointment of Graysons follows the launch of Origin Coffee’s coffee bar in the Entrance Hall in April. The Euston Road coffee bar has now closed for refurbishment and is due to be reopened by Origin later in the summer.

Along with these developments we will be increasing the space available for public catering on Floor 1 and introducing a new Membership Scheme and Members room on Floor 2. In order to make these changes it will be necessary to relocate our staff catering facilities from their current locations on Floors 1 and 2 to a new facility on Floor 3. This space is currently occupied by the Cotton Room and Friends Lounge and, as a consequence, these areas will close in late July and will no longer be available for visitors to use.

We do, however, hope that the overall increase in and enhanced quality of the spaces offered within both the new public restaurant and Members’ room will represent a major improvement to the facilities available to all those using our building.

The improvements to our catering are part of the first phase of a programme to develop the St Pancras campus that will eventually lead to the creation of new gallery, learning and research spaces, along with the development of the 2.8 acre site to the north of the existing Grade I-listed building. For an overview of the programme, visit the programme web page.

We have started to engage with our neighbours, users and other stakeholders, all of whom will have a hand in shaping the future development of the Library’s St Pancras campus. On Saturday 7 May and Tuesday 7 June, 12 members of staff from across the Library ran ‘drop in’ sessions on the Piazza, engaging with a variety of our users, including regular Readers, exhibition goers, tourists and local people. As a result of this engagement we received nearly 100 completed feedback forms and are able to identify key priorities for our users.

It is likely that we will run another Piazza drop in session towards the end of summer to keep this conversation going. If you are interested in contributing, please contact

Rachel Hart

Service Improvement Manager