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31 July 2011

Ashfield Library's World Café Readers’ Evening 2011

What a brilliant night I had on Thursday! Ashfield Library had a World Café Readers’ Evening, highlighting the various special interest areas of the library. I had two friends speaking, Vassiliki the tweeting librarian, who  spoke about the romance genre and Sofia the book girl from Galaxy Bookshop who spoke about speculative fiction. It was the first time I have been to the new Ashfield library as they have spent considerable time and design dollars moving to a level of the new council building (I also lost my library card – I avoid libraries when I can’t borrow books). I was really impressed with the new layout. They have gone for a more approachable bookshop style layout, rather than the Dewey Decimal System. They have split the genres like speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy, horror), romance, crime from the fiction shelves and put them in little cosy alcoves. The library is very spacious, has a lot of conversational space, meeting rooms, arm chairs and the layout and furnishings are dynamic. I’ll be looking for my library card and visiting more often!

The event started with a wine and cheese meet and greet, with platters of delightful food being passed around. I say delightful because if I had less manners I would have fallen upon those platters with glee! There were tandoori chicken sticks, Vietnamese spring rolls and a variety of sushi. Delicious! The entertainment was provided by Terry Serio and the strains of guitar threaded its way throughout the evening.

The sections of the evening that really stood out for me were “Planet Earth” by Melissa Sellen, “Romance” by Vassiliki and “Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror” by Sofia. This, however, may be because I have an interest in each of these topics.

Melissa is in the environmental services and knew her topic inside and out. I was talking to her before the evening started and was impressed with both her passion and knowledge. As a self-avowed greenie, I found this admirable, especially as she spoke about educating the children about how valuable and intrinsic the environment is for human beings. She was greeted with humour and agreement when she recommended The Lorax by Dr Seuss as essential reading for children.

Vassiliki has gained a bit of a name for herself as the tweeting librarian in Sydney circles. She has a special interest in the romance genre and many of us in the Twitter community count her as a good source of recommendations in the genre. She filled her speech with anecdotes from her own life and of being a reader of romance. My favourite is still the one where her parents used to watch wedding processions drive past to their local church and referring to them as funeral processions heading off to watch a hanging. It is such a droll story and perfectly illuminates the fact that readers of romance are readers of fiction. We do not think life is about happily ever afters, but about living in the real world - we just want a bit of happily ever after to lubricate its ups and downs. One of the recommendations Vassiliki gave that I will be looking up is a romantic suspense author, Suzanne Brockmann.

Sofia works for Galaxy, a specialist store for science fiction, fantasy and horror and has such knowledge and animated passion for the genre. She is my go to girl for new authors, and as far as I am concerned, she never gets it wrong (I may be biased as she is my friend LOL). She had such a dynamic presentation that the night ended on a high. She bought her lightsaber to play with when she was talking about science fiction, her Hufflepuff cloak when she was talking about fantasy, and a torch and wore her hood up to add suspense when she was talking about horror. I cannot comment on her recommendations as I have only read Terry Pratchett (read him if you haven’t - he is brilliant), but she did mention a book Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips which she has recommended to me in the past. I sat down and read the first chapter while she was talking with some other attendees and I will be reading it. It is very entertaining! Like I said, she never gets it wrong!

Sofia and I stayed back until late (she was my ride home) talking with various people and had many interesting conversations. The two that stand out are probably Sarah Barry, a psychic who spoke about the Mind and Body section earlier and Vanessa who was resident photographer of the night - both these conversations involved antics with the lightsaber! Over all, the night was a great success, and I was very impressed with the new design of the Ashfield library. I was sad to see they no longer have any Charles de Lint on the shelves, and while I think this is a great misjustice, I understand they have limited space. I also have to mention that they have an alcove for graphic novels and comics, as I plan to spend some time here in the future. I will be searching for my library card in the near future, so I can max out my card on speculative fiction, romance and graphic novels a regular basis. If you are local to the Ashfield library, I recommend you visit and check out the new location and design! If you just like libraries, are in the library industry or interior design industry, I suggest you visit just to see what a different and dynamic direction they have taken!

1 comment:

Marg said...

Sounds like a fantastic night!

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