To Censor or not to Censor – that is the question.

Second-hand books are wild books, homeless books; they have come together in vast flocks of variegated feather, and have a charm which the domesticated volumes of the library lack. Besides, in this random miscellaneous company we may rub against some complete stranger who will, with luck, turn into the best friend we have in the world.”

Virginia Woolf (1882-1941)

The Little Community Library in the parkland near my home continues to gain momentum. I put a call out for more children’s books at the beginning of the school holidays and the neighbourhood came good with DVDs, small toys, and colouring in sets as well as a variety of reading material.

Over the past weeks there has also been the donation of numerous LGBT Romance novels. Often they are sneakily hidden between the pages of other books.

Personally, I’m not offended, but as this communal Library is frequented by children of all ages who utilise the reserve with its playground equipment I have been taking these books out of circulation. Effectively I’ve played Censor. It doesn’t sit well but I have genuine concerns that if a 7 year old goes home with one of these novels a parent could go into meltdown. This could possibly result in the loss of this resource.

A friend has questioned my stance, given that I’m not so zealous with the plethora of religious books that are donated.

None of these books are tossed into the garbage bin. They are donated to an organisation where they can be better appreciated. The plethora of religious books are given two weeks on the shelves before they are removed. I think that’s generous.

Am I becoming a Book Nazi?

The National Archives in Canberra has updated its cafe with a new display on banned books. You can read about the secret history of Australian censorship as you sip your coffee. You can also examine a censor’s report or flip through a copy of a book or magazine once prohibited in Australia. This Cafe is going on my Must Do List For when I next visit the ACT.

What Have I Been Reading?

I’ve been focusing on independent authors, local to my area in the Redlands City area of Brisbane.  

Margaret Dakin was born and lived most of her life in Brisbane. She came to writing comparatively late after an adventurous life working in various occupations. After retiring in 2002, she joined a writing group and discovered a love of short stories. 

Margaret has had stage and radio plays produced as well as a musical titled A Bonnet For Eliza which was performed earlier this year. Blogged about it here:

Margaret was one of six grandmothers local to the Redlands Coast in Brisbane who, having a little spare time on their hands, collaborated on a novel, The Written Word.

This novel is very topical as it covers overdevelopment and reclaiming of the mangroves ( despite being under the environmental protection of RAMSAR).*

*what a bloody farce

**available from Amazon Australia

Why am I sharing this one with you? Because Retirement does not mean one stops living and the grey matter does not dissipate. There is heaps to do and though I am no longer ruled by daily achievements it is nice to think that there is still enough blood pumping to rattle a few chains. So, there’s now a day in the works for all local authors to present their books to the community ( and hopefully make a few quid), and I’m chatting with those who know about such things about a local Government grant to get a local writer’s competition off the ground.

Why didn’t my mother teach me to knit or sew or even crochet? Might have been easier:)

Umm, I lied. I still measure my days by achievements, but then I classify having breakfast a win.

Vale Bill Collins OAM

We lost Bill Collins, 84 years of age, during the week. 

I grew up with Collins who fronted the Golden Years of Hollywood on TV every Friday and Saturday night. For ten minutes before the evening movie he would chat about the program providing information that was so bizarre it was fascinating. Information about the costume and set designs, who was sleeping with whom, tidbits about the Director, and most importantly, where the concept for the movie originated.

It was Bill Collins who encouraged my collection of books that were the basis for favourite movies. I was not even in my teens when Collins took us through his home Library which absolutely had me gobsmacked. He used to move every few years to accomodate his growing collection. Boy, did I want that Library!

My introduction to Lust.

He also introduced me to a wonderful store under Town Hall Station in Sydney in the late 70’s. Ava And Susan’s specialised in movie and theatre books and LPs. I was 18, earning $63 a week, and I would buy something once a fortnight as a treat, and at the shop next door : a chicken specialty shop. My father was disgusted that a Teenager would bring home 8 quails for tea or half a dozen spatchcock.

Memories of my mother are limited but she did sit transfixed watching Bill in full flight. Everyone else’s mothers did too. It was bad news when he started introducing the mid day movie.

Collins gave so many people a great deal of pleasure. He was an eccentric but his joy was simply infectious. He will be missed.

Note : As is often the case you don’t know what you had until it is gone. When I downsized two years ago I tossed out boxes of VHS tapes with Collins introducing his favourite movies. He was a Flynn fanatic – of course.

Some Bookish Things

The high school that my daughters attended, in conjunction with local service organisations such as Rotary and Lions, have put a call out for children’s books. Both fiction and non-fiction books are required to establish libraries in Vanuatu.

They did this last year and it was a huge success. “ We collected enough books to fill 11 libraries in schools that had never had libraries before, with 26 shelves per library.” Way to go or what!

Another local Rotary Club holds an annual fundraiser selling preloved books donated mainly by the State Library of Queensland. I’ve already started collecting my $2 coins in a jar.

All monies raised will be donated to The Sycamore School, “a Primary School (Prep to Year 6) for young people living with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The school provides a safe and inclusive educational environment with programs supported by allied health, aimed at achieving academic, social, emotional and behavioural goals”.

This school, also just up the road, was created by a couple with a child on the spectrum, and though only a few years old is gaining huge inroads in ensuring these kiddies find their place.

My local Library also held an Author talk recently. Charlotte Nash, a Redlands lass, writes romantic fiction which has achieved international success. Romance is not my thing, but I went along to hear her speak and she was phenomenal. I still don’t need to read her books though her command of language was so fluid, so easy, I could listen to her all day long.

And my recent find at the weekend markets : a box set of C S Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia books for the princely sum of $2. Bargain.

I loved Prince Caspian at Primary School where I had an older, male teacher who encouraged his charges to read outside of the curriculum and to sing Bob Dylan and Joan Baez songs. Will get through them quickly so they can join the boat trip to Vanuatu.

Isn’t it just marvellous that books can bring so much joy to so many people in so many different places?

Library Lovers’ Day in Oz.

February 14th is renowned for being the day for lovers: Valentines Day.

Florists take enough money to keep the business afloat for the next six months, more chocolate and champagne is consumed than at Christmas, and you need to reserve a table at your favourite restaurant two weeks in advance if you don’t want to be resorting to takeaway fish and chips.

Valentines Day is not on my radar. You see, February 14th is also Library Lovers’ Day, an annual event organised by the Australian Library and Information Association. This years theme is “Library Love Stories”. The theme highlights all the love that can be found in the library and the ways your library can celebrate.

Libraries across Australia will be marking this event in many different ways, from presentations from local authors to displays of romance novels.

Do you know my favourite event that I’ve heard about to celebrate Library Lovers’ Day? Bribie Island Library, north of Brisbane and hugging the coast south of Caloundra on the southern tail of the Sunshine Coast, is presenting Date Night At The Library. 

Commencing at 5:30pm you can catch the classic romantic comedy, His Girl Friday, starring Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell. Originally released in 1940, and Directed by Howard Hawks, “when hard-charging New York newspaper editor Walter Burns (Cary Grant) discovers that his ex-wife, investigative reporter Hildy Johnson (Rosalind Russell), has gotten engaged to milquetoast insurance agent Bruce Baldwin (Ralph Bellamy), he unsuccessfully tries to lure her away from tame domestic life with a story about the impending execution of convicted murderer Earl Williams. But when Hildy discovers Williams may be innocent, her reporter instincts take over.” – Wikipeadia.

This is a FREE Event though Bookings are essential. The movie finishes at 7.30pm, and the Library will remain open till 8.00pm allowing you to find , da dah, the book of your dreams.

Now that’s a date!

PS Not too much grief please. I learnt a long time ago that “you’re a long time dead” so chocky and bubbles are always close at hand.

Note for fellow Aussies:

Some of you may be interested to learn that ALIA is running a 200 word flash fiction story competition you can enter.  It starts with the story prompt ‘there was love to be found in the library’.

For more details and other ideas visit the ALIA website, where there is information about hashtags, avatars and God knows what else.