DID YOU KNOW KINGSTON HAS A PUBLIC LIBRARY RUN ENTIRELY BY VOLUNTEERS?
Mentone Public Library is a volunteer-staffed, community-minded, non-profit subscription library service. Established in 1925, it seeks to engage residents with local writers and their works. It also promotes the area's published history.
With its manifesto being “Where print becomes personable,” Mentone Public Library is committed to fostering friendship and support between the community and its local authors, writers, literary community writing groups, and emerging young writers from the area’s local schools.
The library seeks to provide a platform and cultivate opportunities for the community’s local literary talent to introduce and promote their homegrown original works to the local public. It also seeks to enable the residents of Mentone, the wider City of Kingston municipality and surrounding municipalities the chance to discover these unique works encapsulating the essence of the area, personally meet their local authors, and learn the writers’ personal stories behind their published stories.
Mentone Public Library also reaches out to those residents with mobility limitations who are seeking easier access to recreational reading, or a recognisable gathering point to meet and socialise with other like-minded reading enthusiasts.
Celebrating its 95th birthday in 2020, Mentone Public Library has made a remarkable contribution to Kingston City over the years, not only as a book lender but increasingly as a great supporter for local writers and performers.
“Page Turners” provides guidance and encouragement for first-time writers to develop their ideas and get them down on the page.
“An Author for All Seasons” features emerging and established novelists, poets, historians, playwrights and theatre groups presenting their works. Held ten times a year on a monthly basis - usually on a Saturday beginning at 11am - the creative talent who have made presentations since the series was launched in 2011.
LOCAL TALENT SHINES AT MENTONE PUBLIC LIBRARY
These are just some of the creative people who have performed at the Mentone Public Library in “An Author For All Seasons”, devised and organised by library secretary Julia Reichstein, with more to come.
With her website aptly titled Up the Creek with a Pen and carrying the catchphrase, Fishing for Words to Hook Readers, Mairi documented the history of City of Kingston through local stories. Founding and running the Mordialloc Writers Group for more than 20 years, she oversaw the collective publishing of nine anthologies while launching the writing careers of notable local authors including Glenice Whitting. For her literary services to the community, Mairi was awarded the Kingston Citizen of the Year in 2016.
After working as a hairdresser for many years, Glenice became a mature age student and then a writer, her first book, an Australian/German historical novel Pickle to Pie, being short-listed for the Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript. She drew on her life experiences to write the play Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow, followed by the novels What Time Is It There? and Somewhere Missing.
A leading author with Ford Street Publishing, George has written more than 100 titles for kids and teens, including the ground-breaking You Choose series, providing the reader with the interactive opportunity to shape the storyline. Winner of the Fiction for Young Readers Category in the 2015 Young Australians Best Book Awards, George’s other popular Young Adult series include Gamers, Other Worlds, The Beast World, The Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) Adventures and The Survival Guides – Australia and The Human Body.
A gifted storyteller, Shirley’s book with the engaging title of No Locked Doors: Jewish Life in Shepparton captures her life and times growing up in a large extended family within a close-knit Jewish community in rural Victoria. Her passion for literature was displayed in her role as co-founder and host for 20 years of the books and writers program Write Now on 88.3 Southern FM. As well as heading up her U3A Memoirs Writing Group, Shirley also co-pioneered the theatrical program On Stage Write Now, providing local writers and actors the opportunity to trial and perform original works at the Kingston Arts Centre.
A specialist coach in drama, communication and presentation, Gaytana was the founder and coordinator of the Bayside Poetry Group, which as a collective published six poetry anthologies. She is the host of two popular, long-running programs on 88.3 Southern FM - Best Medicine, about health and well-being, and Write Now, focusing on writers and books, and which she co-hosted with author Shirley Randles.
When it comes to encapsulating life in Kingston City, few book titles could challenge one simply called Mordialloc. The story begins with Floyd, not the most diligent of students, deciding to throw a post-Year 12 party for his graduating class. James takes us back to Mordialloc of the 1980s for a right-of-passage journey - beers, bikes and bust-ups. What could possibly go wrong?
Amanda is a genius when it comes to time management, completing a Master of Science, a Master of Arts and a PhD while working as a full-time secondary science teacher, raising a family and writing two novels. Whispers in The Wiring and A Single Breath were followed up by Write This Way, Volumes 1 and 2, as part of her expanding role as a mentor to up-and-coming authors.
One of three sisters who have become published authors, Yvette is a multi-talented writer, performer, photographer and illustrator, including illustrating her sister Liliane Grace’s picture books. Along with Sarah Farrugia and Deborah Williams, Yvette was a founding member of the performance poetry group, Blue Chair Poets, whose work embraces life, love, loss and childhood memories.
Suzy J. Brown
Suzy’s books include Freedom Finds Her, about a single mother who, desperate for change, journeys from Australia to Mexico, a trip she never thought possible. The intriguingly titled Calmer Suits Her (think about it) is a novel about enjoying friendships that are bonded through shared adversity and being able to accept that life can be changed by the simplest of actions.
Often inspired by the view from his seaside Mentone home, Bruce, an accomplished water-colour artist, penny-farthing rider and gifted singer-songwriter, engages his audience via knockabout songs with titles such as The Chef Shot Through, about a planned meal at a country pub that goes off the rails when the cook decides he can’t stand the heat of the kitchen.
Dr Cheryl Threadgold OAM
As a theatre critic in radio and print, and as a playwright, performer and director, Cheryl’s unique experience led her to researching and writing the history of amateur theatre in Victoria. She is also recognised as Bayside U3A’s writers group convenor, while her experience in ABC production for 28 years has proved invaluable in creating radio plays for 88.3 Southern FM using local talent.
Danae Andrea Harwood
Danae writes the quirky, popular blog Trip over with Danae, capturing the unusual What the? Travel reviews. She is also the author of The Writer’s Runway: 100 Strategies for the Aspiring Writers’ Head, Heart & Soul and a family activity book inspired by her own childhood pastimes conjured by her nanna with the intriguing title of .factor: Hot dot and odd spot games for cool entertainment.
Elsie Johnstone (Convenor of the library’s “Page Turners” program)
After launching a Mentone landmark, The Wordsmith’s Shop, with husband Graeme, Elsie’s first book Our Little Town examined life in the fishing village of Lakes Entrance. This has recently been joined by Lakes Entrance girl, poems about her growing up there. Other works include Ma’s Garden, a novel set in country Victoria, and Rainbow Over Narre Warren. Elsie and Graeme together wrote Lover, Husband, Father, Monster, a trilogy set in modern-day Dublin about a marriage that goes wrong.
Graeme Johnstone had a colourful thirty-five year career in journalism as a reporter, features writer, editor and daily newspaper columnist before he and his wife Elsie established The Wordsmith’s Shop. This opened up creative writing opportunities including Normie - The Musical, a Shakespearian novel The Playmakers, the political memoir Joan, Child of Labor, the Lover, Husband, Father, Monster trilogy, and a collection of poems in defence of all greying septuagenarians, OK Boomer.
Legends of The Skies Theatre Inc.
A unique theatre group showcasing stories about characters from Australia’s colourful aviation history, such as airline founder Reg Ansett, and Len Walters, the only indigenous World War 2 RAAF fighter pilot. Local actors and singers perform original scripts, appropriately at the Australian National Aviation Museum at Moorabbin as well as Parktone Primary School.
Suzanne McCourt grew up in a South Australian fishing village, the setting for her debut novel The Lost Child, which was long-listed for the 2015 Miles Franklin Award. Her short fiction and poetry have won acclaim, with The Last Taboo: A Love Story, sharing first prize in the 2016 Griffith Review Novella Competition. After losing her beloved dog, Suzanne and photographer, Peter Derrett OAM, produced a series of gift books on the wise and wonderful ways of old dogs.
Denise Tobin Shine
Having established her credentials with The Undertakers’ Mother, a historical novel about her well-known family, Tobin Brothers, Denise set to her masterwork, Jeremiah’s Trunk, a double narrative that starts in Melbourne in 2013, moves in time to the factories and canals of the19th century English pottery industry, and ends on the Ballarat goldfields amidst the guns of Eureka.
Born in Manchester, UK, where she completed a research degree on prolific and much-honoured author Henry James, Alison was lured to Melbourne in 1983 by the promise of sun and pavlova. Working as an English teacher and getting involved in community theatre drew her to writing her first novel, a psychological mystery called Peter Stone, which stemmed from a real life event.
WHAT HAS THE LIBRARY BEEN WORKING ON DURING COVID-19?
While the library has been closed due to COVID-19 conditions, the presentations are continuing via video conferencing platform Zoom.
The next scheduled presentation is November 21, David Dodd invites everyone to “Rock Around the Historical Block”, with the audience experiencing the history of some of Mentone’s oldest establishments and the colourful characters that convened or operated them.
We are also encouraging our patrons and the general public the world-over to contribute to our online birthday celebrations with our project "95 Stories: 95 Reasons to Hope and be Inspired." We are collecting original literary works of up to 200 words each that inspire, uplift and reinforce connection during this challenging pandemic. We hope to accrue at least 95 literary offerings.
A special event is planned for December 12, celebrating the first “An Author For All Seasons” series, launched in 2011, catching up with the local authors who opened the program – Shirley Randles, George Ivanoff and Else & Graeme Johnstone.
WHAT IS THE LIBRARY AND ITS VOLUNTEERS MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO AFTER COVID-19?
Library Secretary and Media and Events Officer Julia Reichstein is currently developing the 2021 series of “An Author for All Seasons.”
“We have a range of local writers in mind to talk about their latest works,” she said. “We also wish to re-engage those authors and writing groups who were part of our pre-COVID line-up who were not in a position to transition with us and present online. We are looking forward to reconnecting with them - hopefully - presenting live once again at the library.
“Like many organisations, we shifted into the world of Zoom during lockdown, which proved very effective, and we may continue that as a combined part of the process.
“But there is nothing better than a presenter interacting directly with an audience, and our monthly Saturday sessions became well known for that.”
Julia said that reuniting as a collective and welcoming our patrons through to our humble home was high on the library’s wish list.
“We are so fortunate to live in an age where video conferencing is an available tool to continue our community outreach offerings,” Julia said.
“But for some of our patrons as well as local authors, Internet is not a readily available tool in their homes, so to be able to open our doors once more and re-engage with these individuals through our programs and personable conversation will be most re-affirming.
“Opening the library will give us the chance to personally welcome back our many volunteers and patrons and continue to build our reputation for cultivating local literary talent and adhering to our motto as a place ‘where print becomes personable’.
“As well, old and new clients can return to conveniently picking up their weekly ‘read’ from the library while shopping in Mentone.”
For more details:
Mentone Public Library
Rear, 36 Florence Street, Mentone VIC 3194 T: 03 9005 6300
(Behind the Mentone Community Assistance, Advice & Information Bureau)
Mondays: 10am - 12noon Wednesdays: 10am - 12noon Fridays: 10am - 12noon Saturdays: 10am - 12noon