Real people, real stories

Elissa and Audrey - Pakenham.

By Jessica Anstice

When the folk at Casey Cardinia Libraries were dreaming up ways to more clearly communicate the services their contemporary libraries offer, someone came up with the idea that there was no one better to share the value of libraries than the members themselves.

Thus, the Face of the Library Competition was born.

Library members were invited to submit their stories to become one of the ‘Real Faces’ that would accurately represent the community and provide insights into all the different ways people use the libraries.

About eighty people applied, and twenty were chosen, based on their stories that demonstrated their connection to the libraries.

“The stories were amazing, choosing the final twenty was very difficult as so many entrants shared with us the way our libraries have truly changed their lives,” Casey Cardinia Libraries marketing manager Penny Molnar said.

“Community members from incredibly diverse backgrounds all use the libraries in very different ways, but the common theme is that they find the libraries safe, supportive and inspiring.

“We hope that over the next couple of years, the stories behind our Face of the Library team inspire others to discover the endless possibilities Casey Cardinia Libraries offer.”

Face of the Library team members:

Elissa and Audrey – Pakenham

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m originally from Shepparton. Moved to Pakenham in April this year. I’m a primary school teacher on maternity leave and I love doing activities. My baby, Audrey is nearly six months old, loves discovering the world, making funny noises and chewing on everything.

Why did you decide to become an ambassador for the library?

I wanted to be a Face of the Library because I’m a bit of a show-off but also really love the library. I might be biased but I think Audrey’s pretty photogenic and she loves coming to the library weekly with me.

We both love Rhyme Time every week, where Audrey is captivated by Jo and loves singing all the bouncy songs especially.

Why are libraries so important?

Libraries have introduced us to other mums and bubs in the area, I have always got a book to read, listen to or magazine to read through the extensive network of libraries, and it’s free!

Matilda – Cardinia Mobile Library

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hello, my name is Matilda. I’m three and a half. I love my library truck. I go to the library truck in Gembrook and Cockatoo. I like to take my baby brothers Heath and Will to the library with me. I like to wear pretty shoes to the library and fill my library bag with books and DVDs.

What’s your favourite book?

My favourite book is Peppa Pig and Hairy McClary.

Hallie – Pakenham

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m Hallie and I’m eight-years-old. I love drama, playing piano, exploring outside and learning anything about the olden days. I have eight animals – two dogs, two fish, two cats and two sheep. I love animals. Oh! And of course, I love reading.

Why did you decide to become an ambassador for the library?

I’ve read lots of books. I couldn’t tell you how many. I want to be a Librarian or a Teacher that works at the school library when I grow up. I love going to the library. Mum’s been taking me since I was two. We have spent a lot of time at the library so when Mum told me about the Face of The Library, it sounded like fun. It has been! If it helps get more kids to the library and tells them what’s at the library then that’s really good!

What’s your favourite book?

I love borrowing funny books, chapter books and books on the Olden Days. My favourite books; because I can’t just choose one are, The Gold Rush, The Bridge to Terabithia, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Treehouse books and The Magic Faraway Tree books.

Why are libraries important?

Libraries are important to me because books make my imagination grow! I use the library for Book Week and the Reading Challenge every year.

Kids in my community play iPad which can be useful but reading books helps you relax. Kids can do lots of things at the library like Tiny Times. I’ve also meet lots of new kids at the library to talk to. Books are important because they help you explore a lot!

Catherine and Isaac – Endeavour Hills

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am Isaac, I am four-years-old. I like to play footy and other sports, play Uno with my family every day, read the clock and count numbers, ride my bike and go to Circus Class.

My name is Cat, I am a family day care educator and I love being outside in nature. I love being with my family, yoga and Queer Eye.

Why did you decide to become an ambassador for the library?

I entered the competition on behalf of my Isaac and I as the library is a big part of our lives. We visit every week, and we love being able to access all the services available. Isaac also loves reading, and we use the library to get the majority of our books.

What’s your favourite book?

Isaac’s favourite book currently from the library is Kingdom of Wrenly (a fantasy series), and Stop Dog (a first reader book).

Cat’s favourite service would be the audiobook app “BorrowBox”, which Isaac uses regularly to listen to stories.

Why are libraries important?

Isaac finds the library important because he loves the library and loves going every Thursday. Cat finds the library important as it is an invaluable service to the community. Books, audiobooks, classes and workshops, free events for kids and adults, board games, computers – they really have everything!

Pablo – Bunjil Place

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a father of three and have used the library since my kids were toddlers.

Why did you decide to become an ambassador for the library?

Now retired, I have become an even more frequent user, hence my entering the Face of the Library competition, because let’s face it, with time on their hands, seniors need more exciting things than just coffee and newspapers at Macca’s or Hungry Jacks. For one, the Face of the Library competition cost less than a cuppa. But even more, it showcases the richness of lives in our communities, shared through a library member’s story which is indeed also a reflection of the diversity of worlds found in books, and other things facilitated by a library.

What’s your favourite book?

The things I read mirror my life’s journey. My favourite books as a little boy were Tom Sawyer and Oliver Twist. As a teenager, I followed the Hardy Boys. And wide-eyed as a young adult, I ran with the bulls in Pamplona on the pages of The Sun Also Rises.

These days my favourites are magazines that keep me abreast with history and our dizzyingly changing times: The Economist, Time, Vanity Fair, Popular Mechanics, Scientific American, National Geographic and All About History.

Why are libraries important?

These magazines are expensive to buy, which is why for me our community libraries are the greatest bargain ever: A whole new world in one’s hands, where to meet other humans, anytime, anywhere, and other creatures too, from the safest or closest distance and the shortest or longest period, and all for free. Isn’t that just awesome?

Jodie – Cranbourne

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hello, I’m Jodie, almost 40, Wife and Mother of One. I am an avid reader, a keen volunteer and am slightly obsessed with Paris!

Why did you decide to become an ambassador for the library?

I thought the Face of the Library campaign sounded like it might be a fun thing to do! I think Casey Cardinia’s Libraries are awesome; I visit most weeks and frequently say that we get our council rates’ worth from our library usage.

I love being able to request books and DVDs from libraries all over the state – some of the rural libraries have some great finds, and they just turn up on the holds shelf for me!

I also think the Top Title shelves are a fabulous reward for visiting the library – I often pick up books that I am a long way down the Holds queue for.

Why are libraries important?

Libraries save me money and bookshelf space – my daughter and I read a huge number of books and we could not afford to buy or store them. Borrowing them from the library means we can read a new book today and then read different ones tomorrow or next week.

Libraries are community hubs that allow access to literacy, knowledge, technology, services and resources for everyone- without limitations around language, culture, gender or socioeconomic status. I think they are an essential and core part of our community.

Helmalie – Hampton Park

Why did you decide to become an ambassador for the library?

I entered the Face of the Library competition because Casey Cardinia Libraries have been an important part of my life during the past thirteen years.

Why are libraries important?

In 2006, as a new migrant to Australia from Sri Lanka, the library helped to ease my homesickness. Later on, as a new mother, I took my son to the library from a very early age to participate in the children’s programs and to borrow books.

The positive impact of the Casey Cardinia Libraries inspired me to start a journey to become a library professional. In 2011, I started with a Diploma in Library Studies and in 2015, I completed a Masters Degree in Library Studies. I have been working as a library professional for almost a decade now. When Casey Cardinia Libraries added Sinhala books to its collection, it was a great opportunity to read in my own language too. My love story with Casey Cardinia Libraries reached a full circle when I published my very first book, a collection of Sinhala short stories named ‘Sahas Piyawara’ in 2019. I was extremely lucky to be invited to the Author’s Corner program organised by Casey Cardinia Libraries and to get the opportunity to launch my book in the fabulous space of the Bunjil Place Library. Seeing my book available for borrowing at the libraries is a priceless feeling. I am lucky to be part of a library network with such diverse collections, lovely inviting spaces and wonderful staff. I am grateful to Casey Cardinia Libraries for changing my life.

Hiba – Cardinia Mobile Library

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Hiba, I’m a mum of five children “Shahd, Shatha, Sarah, Mohammad and Ameen”. I’ve completed my Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care. Currently I’m working as an Arabic teacher.

Why did you decide to become an ambassador for the library?

I decided to enter the Face of the Library competition as I go to the library and follow its news and events so, I wanted to be part of it.

I like the sessions that libraries are providing for babies and kids. I’m very satisfied with the equipment and quality of the services. In school holidays, the library is the kids’ first choice to spend some time in.

Why are libraries important?

Our library is supporting our community. Our children can meet each other there and adults get to share their experiences as well.

Ralph – Emerald

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Ralph and I am 13-years-old. I am the youngest among three siblings. When I was in grade one my mum got a very good job offer in mining industry as geologist, so she had to leave us and work away from us. It was very sad and hard for me and for my sister and brother and I always cried because I really missed my mum.

What’s your favourite book?

One time when my mum arrived home she had lots of books for me and one of those was Theodore the Giant Elephant.

Why are libraries important?

When we have assignments, especially in Science and Mathematics, I do not ask for money from my mum or grandma, instead I go to the library because there are lots of books and I like the books at the library because it was really organised, like there are labels on the top of the shelf. I love books especially story books and one day asked her to get some new books for me and she told me that “It’s not a problem, I will bring you to a wonderful place that you can pick a lot of books and it’s free”. Then the next day she made good on her promise to me and that wonderful place she was talking about was a huge library. That was not a normal place for me because I was amazed with the things inside with different books, and big computers and there was a room for kids with lots of toys and DVDs.

Why did you decide to become an ambassador for the library?

I decided to enter the Face of the Library because I would like to encourage young people to go to library in their spare time instead of going anywhere else. I would like to be an example for the youth because the library is built for all and it’s free and lots of fun, especially when there are activities. The best activity that I will never forget was the Harry Potter night at Emerald.

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