A booklover’s guide to Reconnect Festival – Week One (@EasternRegional)

The Reconnect Festival, presented by the Eastern Regional Libraries, is about bringing our community together. Throughout 1-31 May, we are invited to reconnect, rediscover, re-establish and renew our link with our beloved local libraries.

The festival features a great variety of engaging talks, practical workshops, and exciting initiatives. Nearly all the events are free, but bookings are essential. Week One explores the theme of Community, with events that support healthy living, community safety, and lifelong learning.

Below is a list of interesting events recommended by Christine Yunn-Yu Sun, the Star Mail’s book reviewer. Readers are advised to check out the full festival program at the ERL website: https://www.yourlibrary.com.au/reconnect/

For those who love history, the must-see event in Week One is a multimedia presentation telling the story of the 1903 wax cylinder recordings of Fanny Cochrane Smith (1834-1905), who was officially recognised as the last Tasmanian Aboriginal by the government of the Colony of Tasmania in 1889.

Smith’s wax cylinder recordings of songs are the only audio recordings of any of Tasmania’s indigenous languages. In 2017, these were inducted into the UNESCO Australian Memory of the World Register. Other fascinating facts will be shared by award-winning songwriter, performer and researcher Bruce Watson at Belgrave Library on Wednesday 5 May, 2-3PM.

For those with an artistic bend, Week One introduces two valuable workshops. The first is on Friday 7 May, 2-4PM, at Lilydale Library, where Lauren will lead you through the process of creating your own art journal, a fully private and personal space.

The other is the “Illustrate Me” Digital Art Workshop (cost $10), which will take place at Ferntree Library on Saturday 8 May, 1-4PM, or Tuesday 18 May, 4-7PM. Melbourne-based artist Ashley Ellis will lead you through a series of mini projects using Procreate on iPad, to help you unlock creativity and illustrate yourself.

Particularly worth mentioning is the Writing the Rainbow Festival, which celebrates LGBTIQA+ writers and readers. Week One begins with author Michael Earp, who will explore the vital importance of queer representation in young adult literature at Realm on Tuesday 4 May, 6:30-7:30PM.

Kindred: 12 Queer #LoveOzYA Stories (Walker Books Australia, June 2019), Edited by Michael Earp.

There is also the “Find Your Voice, Tell Your Story” Writing Workshop, which will be hosted by Melbourne-based award-winning writer Narrelle M Harris at Knox Library on Friday 7 May, 4-6PM.

And – because storytime is the heart and soul of the library – LGBTIQA+ and disability advocate Jax Jacki Brown will present Rainbow Families Storytime at Rowville Library on Wednesday 5 May, 4-4:30PM. Another Rainbow Families Storytime will be delivered by Dolly Diamond, comedy cabaret performer and Artistic Director of the Melbourne Cabaret Festival in 2017 and 2018, at Croydon Library on Saturday 8 May, 10:30-11AM.

Finally, for thrill-seekers, local author Bob Menzies will launch his book Benito’s Gold: Treasure, Pirates and murder at Yarra Junction Library on Monday 10 May, 2-3PM. Don’t miss this story of baffling mysteries and hidden danger, as people have been searching for this pirate treasure in Australia for over 150 years!

Benito’s Gold (Sid Harta Publishers, November 2020) by Bob Menzies.

Note: This article was originally published under the title “Reconnect with Libraries”, by Ranges Trader Star Mail, May 4, 2021, Page 6.

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