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In the dry and by the fireside

Commemorating the 50th anniversary of a much-loved local writer, assisting clients writing their first novel, staging author events in a drought-affected area, or celebrating winter: here are some initiatives celebrating reading and writing from public libraries across the state. 

Remembering Charmian Clift 

Rebecca Cook, Kiama Library

Recently Kiama Library commemorated the 50th anniversary of the death of Charmian Clift. Charmian was a prize-winning writer and literary collaborator with husband George Johnston, and one of the most influential newspaper columnists in Australia in the 1960s. Charmian was born and raised in Kiama, and her carefree upbringing and the Kiama landscape hugely influenced her writings. At a special event attended by more than 100 people, a panel of speakers, including Charmian's biographer Nadia Wheatley, discussed their recollections of Charmian. The library launched a free walking app to guide people around the Kiama locations that were significant in Charmian's life. It also released a Book Club Kit containing a mix of titles relating to Charmian. The library and the Kiama & District Historical Society both held displays showing Charmian's story. The event was hugely successful, and a wonderful way to remember this significant Australian literary icon. 

Kiama beach with book cover in foreground

Novel writing program 

Lauren Shiels, Woollahra Libraries 
Woollahra Libraries has started an exciting new initiative, supporting National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  This project runs in 90 countries and has over 400,000 participants each year. It is a fun and supportive approach to creative writing where members work towards their goal of writing a 50,000-word novel during November. We see many emerging and well known existing authors here at Woollahra Libraries. To encourage writing and literacy in our community, we have been running monthly writing workshops in the lead up to November. These workshops provide guidance on how to shape a novel, including writing tools and resources, developing plot and characters through to the editing process.  Throughout November we will be providing a Come Write In space at each of our Libraries at Double Bay, Paddington and Watsons Bay. There will be a reserved area to encourage a vibrant writing community, bringing authors together to pursue their novel goals. 

Q&A session for Woollahra Library writing workshop

Books in the bush: positive experiences for locals doing it tough

Sarah Dean, Big Sky Libraries

This July Big Sky Libraries held its first major author event. Books in the Bush celebrated the wonderful world of books over two days with special guest authors and illustrators from the local area. Books in the Bush gave locals in the midst of a devastating drought in the Moree Shire exposure to positive and inspiring experiences. The two-day celebration began with a dinner event with a panel of guests including Nicole Alexander, Fiona McDonald, Trish Donald, John Ryan and Michael Burge. The special guests discussed their journey to becoming published writers and illustrators, what inspired them, and tips for aspiring audience members. Writing and illustrating workshops followed the next day, giving locals, young and old, the opportunity to learn how to write and illustrate stories. 

Panel of authors and illustrators at Big Sky Libraries Bush in the Bush dinner event

Orange Readers and Writers Festival 

Jasmine Vidler, Central West Libraries

For the first time, Orange Readers and Writers Festival combined with Orange Winter Fire Festival to present Fireside Reads - a day of exciting guest authors. Festival goers had a wonderful experience listening to the authors in conversation with the witty and erudite emcee and Orange City Librarian Sean Brady. The line up of five writers included Debra Adelaide, Tim Ayliffe, Summer Land, Meg Keneally and Felicity McLean. Felicity was a special guest as part of One Library, One Book. This project distributed multiple copies of The Van Apfel girls are gone throughout the communities of Blayney, Canowindra, Cowra, Forbes, Manildra, Molong and Orange.   

Indigenous Literacy Foundation Ambassador Kiara Harris also spoke at the Festival about her role and books on the Wiradjuri language. Winners of the Banjo Paterson Writing Awards were also announced. You can read the winning entries on the Central West Libraries website. You can view images of the event here.

Summer Land, Orange City Librarian Sean Brady, Tim Ayliffe, Meg Keneally, Debra Adelaide and Felicity McLean at the Orange Readers and Writers Festival

Orange City librarian and authors

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