Friday, 17 January 2014

Salute to Librarians! A Q&A with Librarian Matt Imrie

For our final Salute to Librarians! post, we welcome Matt Imrie, librarian for Farringtons School in Kent. 

What's your favourite aspect of being a librarian?
My favourite aspect of being a Librarian is that I have not worked a day for years!  I come in to work, spend my day surrounded by books and introduce students to the joys of reading - there is nothing quite like the feeling you get when you see a spark in someone’s eye and you know they have discovered a book that will echo forever in their memories. 

I also get to indulge my geeky side with running Doctor Who clubs, table-top gaming groups along with the usual reading groups and school activities.

Have you ever banned a book from your library and why?
God no – I am a firm believer in the adage that states that unless a library holds books in it to offend just about everybody it is not doing its job.  I have had a book banned in my library by the branch manager but that was because she and another colleague found a book that had been ordered and purchased in for a member of the public to be distasteful and did not want it on their shelves (I managed to get the book diverted to another branch rather than be withdrawn completely but I am more vocal these days).  Now that I am working in a school library I am aware that the rules are slightly different – there are books that would be unsuitable for a school library but I maintain a staff/sixth form collection for staff and older students, younger students can borrow from that collection provided they have parental permission.

What message would you give to Michael Gove?
If you want children to read 50 books a year make school libraries and librarians statutory.
I could go on to say many other things but others have covered a lot of what is on my mind, often very eloquently, sometimes with the expletives left in so I will not go there. 

You have the power to help children discover a love of literacy, literature and learning by making sure that there was at least one person in each school that could introduce them to books that can make them fall in love with the written word!  Use your powers for good for once!

What was your favourite book when you were a teen and why?
My favourite book as a teen reader was Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett – I was around 13 years of age and I can still remember the thrill it gave me – it was funny (mostly punny but hey I was 13 I loved it and still do).  To this day it is the only book that I have ever said Wow I wish he would write more books this one was so good! – I said that to my mother right after I had put the book down, and to my unending joy I found out later that it was the third book in the Discworld series and started a love story with the series that continues to this very day.  I cannot say why exactly I love it so much, it was probably the first book that I had read that was consistently funny from beginning to end, it hit all the right notes for me to enjoy as if the author had written it explicitly for me. 

What's the best thing authors can do to support libraries?
The best thing that authors can do is continue doing what they do best – writing and being passionate about stories and communicating their love of libraries ok that is more than one thing but so many authors I know (either personally or via social media sites) seem to do these things effortlessly often at the same time – or so it appears, well apart from Terry Deary.

What do you hope for from an author visit to the school?

What I generally hope for is for authors to bring the magic that they pour into their books that capture readers’ attentions.  So far I have not been disappointed; I have watched entire classes hypnotised by authors speaking about their books, themselves and their inspiration.  At the end I hope the students will spend time talking to the author, asking questions, possibly buying a book and be inspired to want to read more.

Thanks for joining us, Matt! And a huge thanks to all the librarians out there who share our passion for books and a goal of helping teens develop a love of reading!


  1. Matt, thank you so much for your post. I'm so glad to hear you don't ban any books but keep books more appropriate for older teens accessible to them. There was nothing worse than not being able to get my hands on something that I really wanted to read, but wasn't allowed to as you had to be over 14 to join the adult library in my town when I was growing up! Luckily there was a wonderful librarian who let me in at 12, but vetted my books for a while before allowing me to roam free. Librarians do a brilliant job, and are passionate about promoting reading. It's what kids need. I hope the powers that be realise that before they axe any further libraries.

  2. Great post Matt ... and yes, agree with the aspect that coming into a school library every day does not feel like work. Maybe that's why we're not valued - we look like we're having too much fun!

  3. Matt, I had a very similar experience discovering The Colour of Magic for the first time as a 14 year-old. I remember sitting in English class during our silent reading lesson and trying to not to laugh too loudly as the teacher was staring at me!

  4. You have to wipe that silly grin off your face and start cultivating a look of intense intellectual suffering. Turn all the clubs into secret societies with passwords and handshakes! But seriously I'm glad to hear that librarians love what they do. May the force continue to be with you!