Monday, July 1, 2013

Rare book week - Melbourne

I almost missed Rare Book Week! It's on in Melbourne from Thursday 18 July and runs until Sunday 28 July (a little longer than a week, but it's wonderful, so we'll forgive the extra few days). You can find all the information online here, but below are my picks of the events I'd like to attend, and the events I'd encourage YOU to attend, if you can.

In a long session on Saturday 20 July, you can bring along family treasures, which might turn out to be real treasures, to the Rare Book Discovery Day at the Melbourne Museum. Even if you don't think your book might be a national treasure along the lines of Phar Lap, you can still take your treasures along to get advice on how to care for them and store them properly, to prolong their life. This session runs from 11am to 2pm.

On Sunday 21 July, there's a session called People's Passion For Words, featuring Professor Kate Burridge. Professor Burridge is going to "examine the passion we all have when using words to express our selves." Of course, with my love of books and my willingness to listen to passionate people, I'm interested in this session.

Monday 22 July has two sessions I would dearly love to attend, but I just won't be able to get the time off work to attend the one during the day. That session is Treasures of the MCC Library, running from 12:30pm to 1:15pm - so short! I did a placement at the MCC Library at the Melbourne Cricket Ground - did you know there was a library there? It's the most amazing library in Melbourne, in my opinion, and if you have the chance to visit it and see some of the jewels of their collection, you definitely should! There's another session on Tuesday, so do try. I will have to do a post on my time at the MCC Library later on...

The other session on Monday I would like to attend is They Are Still Strange People, These Book Collectors, which is on during the evening and I'm going to try and get to. The session is about novels written about people committing crimes.

I really love Federation Square, and this next session looks like so much fun - Retro Storytime! They will be reading some classic story books, which is something I really miss - hearing books read out loud. It is a real art, and I fondly remember my own childhood bedtimes, having a story read and pleading for 'just one, more!'

An event being held in one of my favourite bookstores, Reader's Feast, is Never Do That To A Book. This is readings from Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader, by Anne Fadiman. I've just pulled my own copy of this book off the shelf! Reader's Feast is such a gorgeous store, with those high vaulted ceilings, and row upon row of shelves filled with old favourites and new favourites, just waiting for you to discover them. I'll definitely be going to this! It's on Wednesday 24 July.

The last session I want to attend is like The Book Thief in real life - it's called The Book Theft Century, and is about exactly that: people stealing books, and committing crimes against books. It talks about the crimes, and about "recognition of books as cultural objects whose value cannot be adequately captured by market price." This is something I find really fascinating - how do you put a price on something that is totally unique, such as a folio illuminated by hand by a monk from the 13th century? If someone deliberately damages that book, what is an appropriate punishment? Oh, even thinking about someone damaging such a book gave me shivers! This session is held at Melbourne University on Thursday 25 July, and I'm really going to try and get to this too.

I love that Melbourne is a City of Literature, and I love celebrations like this around books. Festivals are such hard work, and putting them together really takes a team, and blood, sweat and tears from many, many people. All of these events are free, which is also something I love! By making events like these free, especially where the events are as varied as these, it allows as many people as possible to participate. Valuing books, valuing education and valuing literacy and literature are wonderful traits, and I am glad to see so many Melbournians attending events such as these. I hope I'll see you there!

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