Time, ladies and gentlemen, please! This is the last post for the Reading Women blog. Created to celebrate the National Year of Reading 2012, the blog has drawn on the rich and wonderful collections of the University of Adelaide’s Barr Smith Library. As Research Librarian for English and Creative Writing, it’s been a pleasure to promote reading from South Australia’s oldest university, with the support of my colleagues in the library and in the university’s Women’s Professional Development Network (WPDN).
Reading Women can still be used as a source for books and reading. Check the What to Read Next category for a year’s worth of ideas and inspiration. Use the Search box to look for authors, titles and themes by keyword.
A word of warning: in 2013, the University of Adelaide Library will close its catalogue and move to a different system, so many of the links to our collection on this blog will cease to work. You can re-do your search for a particular title or author from the library’s home page.
At the end of the National Year of Reading, let’s celebrate all of the libraries that participated in NYR. From creating lovely reading cafés to organising non-stop reading relays, librarians gave their readers opportunities to truly enjoy their books. Major programmes included adult literacy projects, The Reading Hour and Our Story (designed to raise awareness of Australian fiction.)
Public libraries were the major participants in NYR, but a handful of university libraries joined in as well. Literacy is seen as a public and school library issue rather than an academic one, but we are all engaged in the ‘business’ of promoting the benefits and the joys of reading.
This is one of the issues that I will talk about at the New Librarians’ Symposium early next year, when I give a session on the role of the embedded academic librarian. Libraries are not flourishing in a rapidly-changing, Google-ized world. We need to be very sure of the core values of our profession as we face the 21st century and all the changes that this will bring.
The last event for our National Year of Reading programme here at the University of Adelaide is another Read the Book, Meet the Author session. Kerryn is a Research Fellow in our discipline of English and Creative Writing; she is also a critic, freelance writer and a prolific book reviewer. Her latest book is Adelaide, published in NewSouth’s City Series. Read about Kerryn’s book here and join us in the Barr Smith Library if you can!
Celebrate our freedom to read by reading a banned book this week! The National Year of Reading is also the 30th year of Banned Books Week, a time to acknowledge one of the great freedoms of democracy: the right to read.
There are plenty of choices for banned books : try this list here. All of these books are available in the Barr Smith Library, and all of them are well worth reading. Choose from a wonderful story like Gone with the wind ( I can’t imagine why that was banned, perhaps because Scarlett O’Hara was so unladylike?) – or try the work of D. H. Lawrence, George Orwell or F. Scott Fitzgerald. Alternatively, pick a title from the Australian Censors’ Library: there are many great books to choose from here.
I’m going to re-read To Kill A Mockingbird, one of the most beautifully-written and powerful statements ever made against racism. Our world would be a poorer place without the integrity and conviction of women like Harper Lee. Let me know which banned book you decide to read.
Happy Reading over the long weekend!
One of the best books that I’ve bought recently celebrates the joy of reading in libraries. The Library Book has a cast of excellent authors – Alan Bennett, Stephen Fry, Zadie Smith and others -writing about their experiences of using libraries. As children, adolescents and adults, these people enjoyed and benefitted from their reading; in this slim, elegant book they celebrate the library as sanctuary, as a source of creativity, as a place of education and self-discovery. You can read an edited version of Alan Bennett’s lively and entertaining contribution here
A warm thank you to the two Children’s Librarians, Debi and Janine, who shared ideas about the joy of reading to children with us today. (This was our third event for the National Year of Reading, coinciding with the Reading Hour and the recent Children’s Book Council Awards.) Thanks also to my lovely, responsive audience of mothers, aunts, uncles, grandmothers, god-mothers and pregnant women!
Today is National Bookshop Day, the perfect excuse to buy books and drink champagne! My favourite independent bookshop in Adelaide, the lovely Imprints, celebrated with books and bubbles. (We also had a decadent lemon syrup cake and lots of conversation.)
I wouldn’t be without my local indie bookshop. I know that I can buy books online (and I do), but for me nothing beats the experience of the real thing : browsing the shelves, finding the book I want, coming across other books that I discover I also want, talking to the lovely guy behind the counter (he has a tattoo sleeve, the smile of an angel and he reads Foucault and Julian Barnes.)
The one thing that stops me ordering and buying all of my books here can be expressed in three dirty words: parallel import restrictions. Australians are cursed with this system that effectively doubles the price of our books: compare the price in British pounds with the cost in Australian dollars next time you pick up a new book. Our professional library association, ALIA, has argued for the repeal of PIR since the 1980s - it is kept in place on the unconvincing grounds that Australian writing needs to be protected from more popular overseas imports. (That’s insulting to Australian readers, writers, library users and book buyers: we have a healthy literary culture that can look after itself.)
I will buy books wherever and whenever I can. In Imprints (where they have a wonderful selection), at book fairs (on impulse), at the Hill of Content (when I’m in Melbourne), online from Book Depository (at half the Australian price with no charge for postage.)
Let’s all buy books and drink champagne!
Warmest congratulations to Melbourne’s libraries, bookshops and readers for making winter itself a reason for celebrating the National Year of Reading. With the tag line ‘reading enlightens us’, the Light in Winter arts program brought the delights and benefits of books and reading right into the city centre.