national year of reading legacy event

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Yesterday was truly the most sensational day. The National Year of Reading Legacy Event was held at the National Library of Australia here in Canberra, and I was a day-long guest, speaking in the morning and then participating in the legacy workshops, which explored Love2Read's achievements in 2012, and examined where the organisation was now heading.

The day began in the NLA's theatre with the introduction of Her Excellency the Govenor-General Quentin Bryce - who arrived in spring green - what a radiant woman.

Proceedings were kicked off by Anne-Marie Schwirtlich, Director-General of the NLA (above), followed by Margaret Allen, State Librarian WA (below) and chair of the NYR12 founder partners.

We then had the pleasure of hearing the GG speak - such an eloquent and passionate woman, with that dazzling smile! - about the importance of reading and the glorious legacy of NYR12.

Minister for the Arts, Simon Crean, then spoke about the importance and vital nature of the arts . . .

. . . followed by the ultra-talented Robyn Archer, Creative Director of the Centenary of Canberra, who spoke with such passion about the arts, our beautiful city, and how the wrapping-up of such a successful year was a great opportunity to segway into the 100th birthday of our nation's capital.

Impressed by this line-up? But wait - there's more! It was so wonderful to hear from the fabulous Frank Moorhouse next, who introduced The Invisible Thread - the Canberra Anthology put together by local mastermind Irma Gold . . .

Copies of this tome were then handed out to Robyn, Minister Crean and our radiant GG.

Next, we had the pleasure of another soft book launch - Rocket into Space, which was launched by Prof Harvey Butcher.

Renowned author and Children's Laureate Alison Lester spoke next, about her sensational year with NYR12. She was then presented with a copy of Rocket into Space.

Next was the director of Libraries ACT - Vanessa Little, alongside Margaret Allen, who took us through some incredible stats - the result of a highly impressive and productive year . . .

Some 3700 events were held around Australia this year in celebration of NYR12 - and around 200,000 directly participated. I won't even tell you the many millions of dollars in advertising this initiative secured throughout the year - let's just say the support has been simply stunning, from so many sectors.

After the departure of the GG and Simon Crean, we heard from a series of speakers, who took us through their NYR12 experiences. We first heard from Karen Bonanno from ASLA, about the myriad events and initiatives at school libraries across Australia.

Next was Geoff Strempel, who took us through a fascinating journey with Public Libraries SA.

Jon Bentick, also from Public Libraries SA, gave us a brilliant rundown on The Reading Hour . . .

Then we watched a video by Jo McGill in the Northern Territory, who took us through one of NYR12's writer in residence projects run by poet and short story writer Kaye Aldenhoven, who worked closely with park rangers in the NT to help them tell their stories about their challenging and sometimes dangerous work. Fascinating stuff.

Chris Cheng and I were up next! We spoke about the importance of the creator/reader connection most specifically in regard to children and children's books. That was a lot of fun.

Next, we heard from Glenda Strong and her amazing NYR12 work at the Royal Children's Hospital . . .

. . . followed by Jane Cowell from the State Library of Queensland, who spoke on the Dads Read programme.

Cheryl Akle, Project Director from Get Reading was next - speaking on the organisation's fabulous Touring Authors Programme.

It's hard to believe we were all starving hungry by now - this was such an enriching and fulfilling morning - but our wonderful emcee Ian ushered us all out to the troughs for a fabulous networking lunch, where I was absolutely delighted to finally meet author Susanne Gervay - who is every bit as luminescent as I knew she would be.

It was also truly wonderful to finally meet author/illustrator Michael Salmon.

At the afternoon World Cafe-style workshop sessions, it was a major buzz to be able to converse and debate the myriad achievements NYR12 has gained this year. The main discussion, however, was regarding the future - where will this fabulous initiative go now? It was an utterly thought-provoking experience - and a white paper will be produced from the afternoon, exploring the many opportunities to build upon the work already set in place.

Here I am with my partner in presenting crime -  the dynamic Chris Cheng, along with Susanne Gervay and Zoe Rodriguez from CAL.

Here is Susanne and I with the amazing Sarah Steed from Libraries ACT - who is truly one of the most proactive and talented people {along with many other LibACT staff!}.

To end an overwhelming and emotional day, Vanessa Little {co-chair, NYR12 Founding Partners} and Margaret Allen {chair} presented Library Agency/NYR12 initiators Sue McKerracher, Robyn Ellard, Brenda Currie, Donna McDowell and Karen Ward-Smith with thank you gifts. This year would NOT have been possible without these amazing, dedicated and truly lovely women. In the last image, you will see Vanessa and Margaret also being ambushed with gifts!

To finish the day - what could have been better? Bubbles on the NLA terrace, overlooking the lake and chatting and laughing with some wonderful peeps, including the gorgeous Bethany Clarke, publicist-extraordinaire from Get Reading.

It has been an enormous thrill and honour to be an NYR12 ambassador this year - I will never forget this incredibly important and successful twelve months. The work that was undertaken, the people this year affected in a positive way - it's just astounding what has been achieved. It's so heartening to know the NYR legacy will continue on - in whatever form it takes.

Congratulations to everyone involved, and . . . keep on reading on!

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