From local writers festivals to global festival brands, libraries are increasingly hosting a range of events bringing local and international writers and thinkers to their communities.
Here is a snapshot of some of the festivals that NSW public libraries are involved in. Summaries and images were provided for the December In the Libraries enewsletter, which you can find here.
Write Around the Murray 2016
Write Around the Murray Festival 2016 celebrated its tenth birthday in September with the theme Unsettling the story...memories and imagination. The festival began with ‘Lullaby and Goodnight’, a bilingual performance of rhymes and lullabies. Highlights included political journalist Barrie Cassidy in conversation with ABC presenter Gaye Pattison, Jackie French’s literacy lunch, Jason Steger in conversation with Anson Cameron and Debra Oswald, WAM Slam poetry hosted by Emilie Zoey Baker and Philly, and ‘Stereo Stories’, an evening of song memories featuring stories by guest authors. 1700 school students attended workshops and talks by authors and illustrators including Bruce Whatley, Libby Gleeson, Graeme Base and Philly. The Short Story, Nano and Monologue Competitions continued to be popular. Write Around the Murray Festival 2016 seemed bigger and brighter with nearly 6000 people attending yet it felt just as intimate as the earlier years and as someone pointed out, ‘it’s a very open-hearted festival’.
Caryn Giblin, Albury LibraryMuseum
Inaugural Kiama Readers Festival
Enthusiastic readers from all over the state enjoyed the sunshine at the inaugural Kiama Readers Festival from 14 to 16 October. With events over three days for all ages, audiences were spellbound by the talent on display. The Festival was launched by guest speaker and prize-winning author of The Art of Reading Damon Young. Saturday included a full day of talks on fiction by authors including David Dyer, Kelly Doust, Karen Viggers, Kate Llewellyn and Meg Keneally; on non-fiction by authors Michael Molkentin, Rhys Crawley and Jeff Apter. The centrepiece was a panel discussion, ‘Don’t mention the F- word!! Reading Fiction v Non-Fiction’ with authors Bruce Elder, Christine Paice, Debra Oswald and Richard Glover. A sold out dinner event with Richard Glover and Debra Oswald was enjoyed by all who attended. The final day of activities saw children’s authors Anna Feinberg and Ursula Dubosarsky entertained audiences on the Sunday to conclude what was a fabulous Festival!
Michelle Hudson, Kiama Library Services
Readers and Writers Month at Rockdale Library
September was Readers and Writers Month at Rockdale Library. The month began with a talk by Dianne Blacklock, Ber Carroll and Lianne Moriarty, which was a bit of a coup as Liane was in the middle of a book tour to promote her new book Truly Madly Guilty. Next, Geoff Bartlett ran a two-part workshop on How to Outline a Novel to help NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) participants prepare for November. Everyone left with an outline for their NaNoWriMo project. In keeping with the writing theme, we hosted a Poetry Slam heat. Seventy-five people squeezed into our rooftop meeting room to hear some great poetry. Local poet Nardine won the heat and was one of three poets to progress to the next round. The month finished with Carmel Bird in conversation with Linda Funnell of Newtown Review of Books, discussing Carmel’s new book Family Skeleton.
Natalie Funston, Bayside Library
Dangerous Ideas in Taree Library
Ideas and libraries go together and Manning Valley Libraries jumped at the opportunity to be one of only six libraries across Australia to host a Festival of Dangerous Ideas satellite program which live-streamed two sessions from the Sydney Opera House. On Saturday 2 September Taree Library was full of people who wanted to be inspired and challenged by the ‘dangerous’ ideas contained in Lionel Shriver’s ‘Break a Rule a Day’, and Annabel Crabbe and David Marr’s ‘The Government we Deserve’. Local audience feedback was overwhelmingly positive, with participants excited to be able to take part in such a stimulating cultural activity without having to travel to Sydney. An added bonus was the exclusive Q&A session with philosopher AC Grayling where our local audience was able to participate via Twitter. This event was certainly a digital highlight for us!
Debbie Horgan, Manning Valley Libraries
Curiosity + Wonder in Parkes
Parkes Shire Library's Curiosity + Wonder Festival commenced with weaving and concluded with holiday sessions. In-between the library hosted art and animation workshops, author visits, storytime, Parkes Library Fun Palace and launched Tullamore Library as a 24 hour service. Sophie, a student at Trundle, very much enjoyed the visit by author Jack Heath. ‘I loved hearing about all your experiences and I like reading your books’. On 24 September Parkes Library transformed into Parkes Fun Palace, celebrating art and science! Everyone was encouraged to have a go at a range of hands on activities. Guest entertainer Andy Jones captivated audiences with two shows. A Mum reported her boys loved Fun Palace. ‘Oscar's favourite was the telescopes, seeing Venus and the sun, and meeting a real life scientist. George loved the duck racing and spectroscopes’. The Library's celebration of curiosity and wonder aims to bring new experiences to the community.
Shellie Buckle, Parkes Shire Library