If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter you will know that I have recently started a new job working as a School Librarian. To say this is my dream job is an understatement…I am absolutely LOVING it. The school has only recently had their library fitted and so I have lots of blank spaces to fill and books to buy (which I see as a very important responsibility…)I am being given the opportunity to put my own stamp on the library and I desperately want to turn it into a place where the children want to spend all of their time, snuggled on a beanbag getting lost in a book…
I was presented with an out-of-this-world opportunity recently in the shape of visiting Peters Books in Birmingham. If you’re not sure what Peters is, basically they are a supplier of books and furniture for libraries and academies. Working at a public library I had come across Peters before (my colleagues once told me how they used to visit on book-buying sprees and be given free reign to fill up a trolley with stock. I was both in awe and slightly disbelieving. Surely a process such as that didn’t REALLY exist…? Did it…?)
On Tuesday I found myself heading into Birmingham, armed with questionnaire’s filled out by pupils detailing the books they would like for their library (David Walliams, Roald Dahl and Beast Quest were mentioned multiple times.)
To say I was excited is a teeny, tiny understatement. I was technically shopping for books and this was MY JOB.
I had all sorts of ideas in my head as to what this magical place would be like, but it completely surpassed my expectations. Whilst it may look like your average building from the outside, the inside of Peters is spectacular.
The first thing you see is, of course, books (and we’re not even on the ‘bookish’ floor yet…) book displays, book quotes, book-related signage. WOW. I was particularly taken with the Alice in Wonderland quotes…
Then when you get onto the floor where the magic happens (aka you buy the books) it’s like entering a calm, tranquil, gorgeous-smelling room of heaven. I could practically hear the harps playing and the fluffy clouds underneath my feet.
It was like entering the most gorgeous of bookshops and having it practically to yourself. We were greeted by one of the really lovely librarian’s when we first arrived who had a rough idea of what we were after and had hand-picked a few titles for us beforehand. It also being one of the hottest days I have ever known in my 27 years on this planet I was relieved to discover that Peters has first-rate air con. This is very important because I would undoubtedly get flustered as I was deliberating over the Angelo Saxon books.
But before the book-buying there was some very important business to be dealt with. Lunch. Yes…They even provided lunch in their gorgeous Reading Cafe which was filled with bookish quotes and the most enviable bookish cushions I’ve ever seen in my life.
Once I had scoffed my sandwiches and cake (book buying is hard work and requires sustenance) we were off.
Starting with non-fiction, the lovely librarian explained how things worked and pretty much left us to it. It’s such a dizzying prospect to be faced with thousands of books and deciding which ones would work best for your library. Whilst this was a hugely exciting task it was also pretty scary – I wanted to choose the right books. Books that the children would enjoy, books that would encourage them to read, books that would help them with their learning. It was really important to get this right.
I’m not fibbing when I say there were literally books about EVERYTHING. Some children had requested books on YouTube, tutorials, becoming a game programmer…well guess what – Peters had those…and every other slightly obscure topic you could think of. Every request that we had was satisfied.
To begin with I was conscious of over-spending and was analysing every book wondering ‘do we really NEED that!?’ Then when I had my first trolley totalled up and discovered I hadn’t even spent a quarter I really went to town and used my book-buying skills to my advantage… (This involved as many books as I could physically cram onto a trolley, then when that was full going back for another trolley) In all seriousness it wasn’t as Supermarket Sweep-esque as I’m making out. I’ll have you know I worked very hard making some crucial decision (e.g how many copies of Gangsta Granny should I buy?)
The time flew by in a blur of picture books, early readers, fiction and new-releases. My school being a first school I didn’t venture into the young adult section, which is probably a good thing because I know I would have wanted one of everything.
There was just so much to look at…and I’m not just talking books. There was furniture, toys, library-decorations…everything book related you could think of (I had to try SO hard to resist a Gruffalo hand puppet. In fact he’s still calling to me now…*clicks Amazon*)
The final total of books purchased was 701 and we came in £100 under budget, so all in all this was a hugely successful trip. Plus the lovely people at Peter’s will be labelling and cataloguing all of our haul for us so when they arrive they will be ready to be read. I cannot wait. I will be stood outside looking for a delivery van every day until they arrive…
I was also impressed with the amount of wonderful freebies on offer. I came out with zillions of colourful posters, cardboard display stands and a very cool Harry Potter trunk which I am rather excited about.
My experience at Peter’s was insane and I loved every minute. I still can’t fully believe that I was given this opportunity and I just hope that I selected our books well and they help to establish that all-important love of reading in the pupils.
As for me I’m off to stand outside the school gates looking for that delivery van…