Hello and welcome to the Wollondilly Library Blog! Discover what's new and what's happening at your library or just get to know your library a little better. We hope you enjoy the blog and visit often, don't forget to leave a comment as we would love to hear from you.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Dr Barnado or Dr Who?

Dr Barnado or Dr Who? 

So you may think that I have been living under a rock…but I only recently learnt about the stories of the Dr. Barnado’s Farm School, including our very own Mowbray Park Training Farm, just here in Wollondilly.

I am now enlightened to the fact that thousands of Dr. Barnardo’s youngsters were shipped from Britain to Australia, and specifically arrived to Picton, Mowbray Park Farm. Who would have known, right?

Oranges and Sunshine represents the story of the Child Migration Scheme, and I found this movie particularly powerful as it relates so closely to our own local history. This is our story…  

So perhaps you want to learn more about these local stories, as it aligns so strongly with Wollondilly’s own history. “Yes” I hear you say. Then I would like to take this opportunity to invite you to attend our History Week event “Picture This”.

Alick Robertson will be one guest speaker describing his first hand experiences as a Barnado boy, working as a farm-hand at Mowbray Park under the Child Migration Scheme.

If you are new to the area, or just visiting, perhaps you might also like to view our local studies collection, and get to know the history of this area a little more. From Ghosts of Picton Past to With the Best of Intentions, where you can discover more about Alicks’ experiences, I’m sure you will be captured by the many local stories, as I have been.

What’s your local story of Wollondilly?


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Can smell sell books?

Books are a sensory experience, their colourful pages a feast for the eyes, the texture of their pages smooth to the touch. There is however another sense that is not often associated with books, smell. I’m not referring to the musty smell of ancient tomes or the pungent whiff of cigarette emitted from second hand shop finds, rather the association of smell with a time, of a place and emotion.

New research published by the Hasselt University in Belgium suggests having the smell of chocolate in the air in bookstores encourages customers to spend more time browsing, rendering them twice as likely to look at more than one book. Amazingly this boosted sales by over 40% especially for certain genres such as romance fiction.

This got me to wondering, could this be the secret weapon of traditional bookshop sellers to foil their on-line counterparts? And, could we use this phenomenon in libraries to influence borrowers in their literary choices? Could the aroma of freshly baked bread wafting over the shelves boost borrowing in the cooking section? Could the sweet perfume of Au Paige beckon you towards a Mills and Boon bodice ripper? Encouraged by these questions I have come to think we could well do with a bit of olfactory encouragement in selecting reading material. So next time you visit the library and you are enticed away from your normal genre of choice by the smell of gun smoke and freshly turned dirt be afraid, very afraid.  

A bite of the BIG APPLE - a culinary journey in New York invoking the smell of petrol fumes tinged with coffee beans

Next time you borrow a book let your senses take over and enjoy.



Wednesday, July 24, 2013

What if?

I have long been fascinated (or frightened) I’m not sure which, about the subject of  ‘what if?’ What if I had married a different person – what would my life be like now? What if I did that uni course in 1982 – where would I be now?

This fascination was rekindled recently when someone recommended the reading of ‘Genesis and Catastrophe’ by Roald Dahl. She described this work as the “greatest short story ever written”, and after this teaser how could I not read it?

Unfortunately our library didn’t own a copy (it is out of print and quite rare) but I got it via our interlibrary loan service. It is based on the true story of Adolf Hitler’s birth and takes place solely in the hospital while Adolf’s mother is in labour. It follows the conversation between herself and the doctor where she expresses her concerns about the health of her precious newborn son, because her previous three children had all died.

Now I wouldn’t go so far as to say it is the greatest short story ever written, however it is definitely thought provoking and screams the question ‘What if?’
What if Adolf had died in infancy like his siblings? How different would the world be today?

Well for one I would not be here writing this blog – my grandmother having been taken by the Nazis as a 15 year old from her homeland Ukraine to Germany to be a part of the Hitler Youth Camps. She subsequently migrated as a displaced person to Australia with my then, four year old mother in 1950. She met my Australian father in the early Sixties – and consequently, here I am.

Some ‘what ifs’ are huge like the question of Hitler which change the course of millions of lives, but some ‘what ifs’ are small where the little choices we make each day have a domino effect on what our lives become.

If like me you are fascinated by this topic why not try some similar themed titles from our collection –
The Husbands Secret by Liane Moriarty
One man’s split second decision monumentally changes the lives of those in the community in which he lives. Three parallel stories converge at a fateful climax.

11.22.63 by Stephen King
What if the assassination attempt on president John F. Kennedy had been thwarted?

Last Time They Met by Anita Shreve
What a life could have been if it hadn’t been cut short.

Oh! If only… by Michael Foreman (for children)
One thing leads to another in this clever book for children.

Every choice we make has consequences.
Worth a watch if only to see the sequence relating to when Daisy has the accident that ends her dancing career.

To quote Benjamin Button – “Sometimes we’re on a collision course and we just don’t know it – whether by accident or design there’s not a thing we can do about it?

What are your thoughts on ‘what if’? Are we victims of fate and destiny, or do we have the power to control our own path?


Friday, July 19, 2013

Crime File: Crime has an international flavour

Murder, mystery, mayhem & miscellaneous misdemeanours are rife throughout the world; they certainly are common events in your local library, thankfully only in the pages of books on the library shelves.

Leaving aside for the moment the more familiar examples from Australia (Peter Corris, Robert Barrett), Britian (Val McDermid, Peter Robinson, Michael Robotham) & USA (Patricia Cornwell, Michael Connelly, James Lee Burke], Sweden (Stieg Larsson, Jo Nesbo & Henning Mankell), an introduction to some other authors from different countries, or stories set in other countries might be valuable.

Murder is murder wherever it occurs; what makes many of these books interesting is often the setting & the protagonists.
A Beautiful Place To Die
 For instance, Malla Nunn’s principal character in her series of books set in 1950s South Africa, Detective Emmanuel Cooper, is an Englishman, although classified as of mixed race, who has to contend with the social & political ramifications of apartheid & how these effect the crimes he is obliged to investigate.

A Man Without Breath
Philip Kerr’s early Bernie Gunther novels (such as The Pale Criminal) are set in 1930s Berlin with the rise of Hitler & the National Socialists, with some of the later books in the series taking place against the background of World War II with his investigations often coinciding with actual events, such as in A Man Without Breath, which refers to a series of murders associated with an examination of the execution of Polish officers in Katyn Wood.

Location & character often provide the interest: Venice -Commissario Brunnetti (Dona Leon), Paris - Inspector Adamsberg (Fred Vargas), Singapore – Inspector Singh (Shamini Flint), China – Chen Cao (Diana Wei Lang), Turkey – Cetin Ikmen (Barbara Nadel) and many others.

If these pique your interest just ask your friendly librarian for other titles.

Next time in Crime File – Cosy Crime.


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Oh for the love of.....Reading!

I grew up in a house full of books, and my sister and I have fond memories of  being read to nightly as young children - we inherited my parents’ adoration of Dr Seuss’ magnificent sing-song language, Roald Dahl’s irreverent tales and Enid Blyton’s whimsical stories, to name a few.

Committed and enthusiastic primary school teachers fostered my love of reading, often suggesting a new genre, or mentioning a new author I may like. By the time I was knee-deep waddling through the joy that is high school, I was genuinely excited to read and discuss novels set by my English teachers.**

 A love of reading as an adult is greatly fostered by such encouragement from an early age. I love what revered Australian children’s author Mem Fox has to say on the matter, and her little book Reading Magic is packed with ideas on not just how to get kids aged 0-5 years interested in books, but why it’s so important. It’s quite inspiring. At a baby shower I went to a little while ago, a friend popped this book in a gift hamper alongside nappies and singlets for the newborn bub (a gesture I intend to steal in the future).


 For children who are reluctant readers, or find reading difficult for a myriad of reasons, it’s a bit of a different story. The task can be both tricky and frustrating for all concerned. We have a number of books available for loan which may help you support the child in your life.It has nothing to do with being the 'best reader' in class, and everything to do with literacy that stirs the imagination, explores differing perspectives, informs and entertains.  

So, as Mr Dahl so cleverly expressed:

"So please, oh PLEASE, we beg, we pray,
Go throw your TV set away,
And in its place you can install,
A lovely bookshelf on the wall."

...Ok, so that may be pushing it a little, but you get the idea!

Lisa R :)

** and yes, I’m well aware of how nerd-like that sounds

Thursday, July 4, 2013

2013 Prime Minister's Literary Awards

Shortlist Announced!

The 2013 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards shortlists have been announced.

From children’s books that excel in the art of storytelling through to revealing works of non-fiction and history, the 29 books on the 2013 shortlists represent the breadth and depth of the Australian story and imagination.

Now in their sixth year, the Awards shortlists recognise the best in Australian fiction, poetry, non-fiction, history, young adult and children’s fiction published in 2012.

Full list of shortlisted titles can be found here.

The following titles from the shortlist can be reserved and borrowed from our library. Check our catalogue for availability.

Adult Fiction, Non-Fiction and Biographies

The Australian Moment by George Megalogenis 

The Chemistry of tears by Peter Carey 
Farewell, dear people by Ross McMullin

Floudering by Romy Ash

Mateship with birds by Carrie Tiffany

Bold Palates by Barbara Santich

The Censor's Library by Nicole MooreYoung Adult Fiction

Young Adult Fiction

 Everything left unsaid by Jessica Davidson


Grace beside me by Sue McPherson

Friday Brown 



The Children of the King by Sonya Hartnett

Children's Fiction

What's the matter, Aunty May? 
Today we have no plans by Jane Godwin and Anna Walker 
Red by Libby Gleeson
Thanks, George

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Hot Off The Press!

…and the long awaited announcement of the Miles Franklin Award winner is :

Michelle De Kretser for her book entitled

Twitter is running hot at the moment with tweets such as :

“Can't wait to read this book - have heard excellent things!!” @keelywrites

The Judges said that “Questions of travel is a rich and ambitious but engaging novel of ideas...”  @_milesfranklin

“Congratulations Michelle! Amazing book!” @DymocksBooks

If you'd like to read some reviews on this title please click here.

Why not be the first to borrow this title at Picton Library and if you miss out you can reserve it for free.