"Pick up a comic, I’m a huge advocate of comics and sequential art as a gateway to reading, particularly for reluctant readers".
Alun is our development lead and delivery manager for Reading Cloud which means he has created and coded a lot of the existing functionality within our library systems over the fifteen years he has been part of our team. His work involves working on proof of concepts for new features or on ways to enhance existing areas of the software.
Name a feature you have developed that you are especially proud of?
The junior home screen themes which were great fun to create, it was also an opportunity to teach one of my sons how to do html animation, and to involve my children in coming up with ideas for things to animate. When you explore the themes their youthful input is the reason the snowman has a hat in the winter theme and there is a piranha lurking in the underwater theme!
Who were your most read authors as a child and then as a teenager?
I read extensively as a child, reading Roald Dahl, Douglas Adams, C.S Lewis, Paul Jennings and Terry Pratchett and Doctor Who books (thanks to my brother). As I got older I read a lot of comic books and started to read more non-fiction, science books as well as technical manuals because I wanted to know how things worked. I read a lot of Simon Furman’s work, as will as Grant Morrison and Denny O’Neil.
What were your memories of your school library?
My school didn’t really have a library and the book collections dotted around the classrooms were worn and uninteresting. But my memories of going to the public library with my grandmother are treasured as we had a shared love of science and the arts. We did experiments in her kitchen with the science books we borrowed, eager to go back and get some more books as soon as we could finish them! It was only when I entered the sixth form that I was first introduced to what a school library could be, with study areas, stacks, index cards, and so many books and space.
What are you reading at the moment?
At the moment I’m dipping in and out of two books, an autobiography by Val Kilmer and Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve, as I went to school with one of artists who made the film. I don’t get chance to read frequently which is why an eBook reader is great for this, but I still like to have the actual physical books as well.
Which aspects of our library software homepage do you think would most engage a young reader?
Suggested Reads and Who Next are really good and something we are working on to expand upon even more. The blogging and home library features are great and blogs are often a platform for young people to get themselves heard or to write a short story. Our Reading Cloud platform is a safe moderated space for staff and students without being exposed to the nasty bits of the internet.
What advice would you give to a child who said they didn’t enjoy reading?
Pick up a comic, I’m a huge advocate of comics and sequential art as a gateway to reading, particularly for reluctant readers. Grant Morrisons early Justice League run is perfect for superhero fans, Fables for fairy-tale style stories, and James Roberts run on Transformers is a surprisingly funny quest story. There really is a comic book or graphic novel out there for everyone.