Vermont South Library is one branch of the eight Whitehorse Manningham Libraries (WML) in the Eastern suburbs of Melbourne. Surrounded by trees and parks in leafy Vermont South, it’s a medium-sized branch, circulating roughly 250K loans per year and receiving over 100K visitors.
They run programs targeted predominantly at the senior adults and young children demographics. A new program running in July/August is ‘Dating Online for Over 50s’ which should be something a bit different for library staff and patrons alike, and we are also welcoming authors Jock Serong and Sian Prior in the spring season. There is a weekly Lego club, a few English-practice conversation programs, and programs related to gardening.
Vermont South Library has two co-Team Leaders at the moment and a regular additional staff of about five. Linden Carroll the Participation & Engagement Librarian is answering some questions for us today, and sharing more about this wonderful library.
Tell us about your job as Participation & Engagement Librarian?
My role as Participation & Engagement Librarian at Whitehorse Manningham Libraries is to develop and deliver programs and events in the library and to the community that focus on connection and engagement – connecting community members to books, to ideas, and most importantly to each other. In the past 18 months in this role, I have conducted outreach work (e.g. ‘pop-up libraries’ in shopping centres and at local fairs), facilitated storytelling and story-sharing moments (e.g. International Women’s Day ‘what women have inspired you?’ event), and delivered a range of hobby-related events, skill-sharing programs, and gathering opportunities. I’ve worked with community groups, small businesses, local volunteers, schools, and more, across both council areas.
The role comes out of a movement in the public library sector towards re-cementing the public library as a central community institution. Togetherness can become lost in the modern world, and public libraries are positioned precisely at that convergence of information, entertainment, space, and gathering that is perfectly conducive to reigniting that genuine sense of community in our neighbourhoods.
What is your favourite part of your work?
I love the first stages of getting to feel out a new idea – whether a partnership with an unknown community group, a new way to support community members’ ownership over their library programs, or something just a bit out there that hasn’t been done before. It’s like making a new friend or beginning to date someone new, hesitant at first to commit to the idea, and then quickly enamoured by the new project and surrounding yourself as much as possible with its many possibilities.
The other part, though, (as cliché as this will sound) is when a member of the community tells us that they love the library. We hear it for so many reasons, from so many different demographics, at all times of the day and evening, but it’s always because the library supports their lives in some crucial manner. And that just makes every little thing we do on the day-to-day all worth it. To see more about the depth and scope of the impact of public libraries, go to the Libraries Change Lives campaign page.
What are your plans for the next year? Are there any programs or events you’re planning that we should know about?
As I write this, our spring season ‘What’s On Booklet’ (September – November 2019) is having the final once-over before it heads off to the printer. Some of the more unique programs we’ve got coming include yoga, mindfulness, therapy dogs, Virtual Reality experiences, Storytime for Adults, cooking demonstrations, and a YA Lit Fest. That’s in complement to our regular program of digital literacy, Makerspace technology, EAL and literature circles, and an ever-impressive roster of author talks. Head to the events portal on our website to have a proper look. It always astonishes me what we manage pull off every season. Meanwhile, the Programs & Events team have moved onto planning for summer season 2019-20 already, but nothing I can announce just yet.
Top three books? Is it possible to choose?
Oh gosh, you know that’s an impossible question! I’m a hopeless optimist, so Pollyanna by Eleanor H Porter and Heidi by Johanna Spyri still speak to me as strongly as they did when I was eight years old – I think I have to include those two books for having influenced me for as long as they have. I love everything by Terry Pratchett – he’s just an absolute genius; and so far everything by Laini Taylor as well – she always transports me to this pure poetic fantastical realm. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy also holds a special place in my heart, as I fell in love with it in high school and I know there’s always more to dissect whenever I go back to it.
What are you reading right now, or what are you looking forward to reading?
I’m currently reading a few books at once, as you do, but my main squeeze is Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins. I’ve not read any of his other books and I am thoroughly enjoying this one, as bizarre and wide-ranging as it is. I am impatiently waiting for the untitled next Laini Taylor book, which should unite two separate series that she’s been crafting, The Empire of Gold by SA Chakraborty, which is the final novel in The Daevabad Trilogy, and Hollowpox: The Hunt for Morrigan Crow, which is the third book in the Nevermoor children’s series by Aussie author Jessica Townsend. I highly recommend all three series.
Whitehorse Manningham Libraries have eight branches across both City of Whitehorse and Manningham Council, in the Eastern suburbs of Melbourne VIC.