Monday began with a visit to the State Library of Victoria.
Being early I wandered around recalling my Uni days when I would volunteer at the Queen Victoria Womens’ Centre giving tours of the building.
It hasn’t changed a bit, though it is now dwarfed by all the buildings around it, and I felt quite nostalgic sipping coffee in the grounds behind the beautiful building.
After my trip down memory lane I walked to the library and waited on a bench where I was pleasantly surprised by a group of school kids who chose me to interview about the Melbourne public transport system!!
I helped as well as I could (being from Anglesea) and felt pleased that children found me approachable!
Anyway at 10 o’clock we entered the library and we were greeted by Juliet O’Conor who spoke to us about the library’s children’s literature collection.
We learned that the Library has children’s books published between the 16th and 21st century. We were able to see some of the delicate books as they were passed around the table resting on feathered pillows. Juliet is also the author of Bottersnikes and Other Lost Things
Lazy Bottersnikes in outback rubbish tips, Sir Pronoun’s dilemma about standing in Miss Noun’s place and the story of how Jack built a house, a hut or a shack are all to be found in this treasury of Australian children’s books. Exploring everything from schooldays to fantasy worlds, from its nineteenth century beginnings to the twenty-first century, this book is remarkable for its breadth of coverage, encouraging new ways of seeing the Australian child’s literary history. “Bottersnikes, Gumbles and Zookies: A Treasury of Australian Children’s Literature” is beautifully illustrated and includes works from some of Australia’s best known and loved writers and illustrators: Mem Fox and Patricia Mullins, Bob Graham, Libby Hathorn and Gregory Rogers, Gary Crew and Shaun Tan, Pamela Allen and old favourites such as May Gibbs and Ida Rentoul Outhwaite. This book illuminates the icons of Australian children’s literature, and is a wonderful collection for those passionate about children’s books.
After our dizzy visit with Juliet we met up with Kathy Miller who showed us through the library with its many exhibitions, of course with limited time we were unable to see everything, you would need a whole day or two to be able to absorb it all. One of the highlights for me was standing on the balcony overlooking the dome room. I was reminded of an ornate wedding cake, layer upon delicious layer of knowledge, books and learning. Kathy is an extremely passionate woman. As we visited each exhibition we were often joined by fellow enthusiasts who couldn’t help but be swept up in the stories that Kathy told.
We finished our visit with a tour of the Love and Devotion from Persia and Beyond tour. Manuscripts dating back to the early 11th Century were enchanting. The exhibition runs until the end of June so I’d suggest you get yourself there asap.
After lunch we drove to Readings in Carlton and met with Kathy Kozlovsky and Holly Harper. They spoke to us about how they choose books for the bookshop, how they display books, how long they keep books (before returning them) and what the latest trends are. They are both very knowledgeable people, Holly is also an author so her perspective was particularly insightful.
Readings in Carlton is a beautifully set out store with the children’s section found in the back left hand corner. I’ll look forward to the day that one of my books finds a happy spot on one of the Readings’ shelves