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Hallowed Ground | Art and About Sydney


Hallowed Ground returns in 2015 to discuss the unexpected and the improbable.

Presented by City of Sydney Library and Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA), this free annual event sees a panel of experts discuss the ever-changing way we engage with libraries how library, that most ancient of institutions steeped in tradition and ritual.

Past topics have covered the future of reading, the future of the storybook, and the future of the librarian (shhh!).

Panel includes:

Kathy Tritsaris (facilitator), Team Leader (Surry Hills Library)

Jaclyn Booton, General Manager (Wheeler Centre)@JaclynBooton

Mal Booth, University Librarian (UTS Library) @malbooth

Grace Turtle, Co Creator (Three Farm) @Threefarm3

Leigh Russell, Director (Hello Bookcase and Hello Library) @hellobookcase

Customs House Library | Sydney
Wednesday 7 October 2015 from 6.30pm to 7.30pm
Reserve your spot


Hello Library Launch


We are excited to announce the date of our Hello Library exhibition and booklet launch.

Thursday 13 August 2015
Surry Hills Library 
6.30pm – 8.00pm

We would love for you (and your friends and family) to join us to help us celebrate.

Bookings are recommended – RSVP here.
Hope to see you on the 13th August!

If you are unable to make it to the launch – the exhibition will run during the month of August in the Surry Hills, Customs House, Newtown and Kings Cross libraries.


Marianna – Newtown

I am looking for a book my friend recommended to me, The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera. I’m looking forward to reading it. Recently, I reread Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer.  I first read it two years ago. I could read it over and over again, he is an incredible writer. 

I like that when you are reading you can forget everything that is going on in your life. You can escape. I know everyone says that but it’s true and wonderful. You can pick up a book and go into a different world or learn something new. 

My mum is a linguist at the University of Sydney and she would always read books to me when I was younger.  I remember Harry Potter was the first one that I read on my own. My mum would always stop at the most exciting part and it would drive me crazy, so I would end up reading it myself.  My biggest accomplishment was finishing the last book in the series before my mum and I still really love it. I am always reading under the covers until midnight—I immerse myself in every book I read. 

My mum would bring me to this library when I was in preschool but I hadn’t been here since year six and have just started coming regularly again. I really like the art it’s great that local art and young artists can be showcased.  The City of Sydney libraries are fantastic so many different resources available. 

Anne – Newtown

I love the variety in my work – no two days are ever the same, and there is no such thing as an average day; and I love the huge mix of people you meet, all with their own tastes & opinions.   I think we tend to select friends who have similar outlook and values to ourselves, and who are often at the same stage of their lives, so it’s easy to become closed to different attitudes & experiences.  When you spend your days talking to the huge range of people who come through the library, you really do get exposed to so many more ideas. 

We have an informal book swap – it started when the library put our some of the books no longer needed in the collection for people to take.  People really enjoyed sorting through them and taking what interested them. We noticed that some would reappear a few weeks later, as the first reader finished them and bought them back to swap for something else.  Now people are adding their own books, we often get people dropping off unwanted books when they are moving, or have just had a clean out, and they all go there for people to share and enjoy.

The main change I have found over my 20 years as a librarian is the technology – members can access a much wider and deeper collection via their local libraries than they could previously, often from the comfort of home.

I read mostly fiction, across just about all genres. I love the feeling of getting lost in a different character, experience, place or time. Recently I’ve enjoyed Ann Leckie’s Imperial Radch novels (space opera), Tana French’s psychological/crime series set in Dublin, Sarah Waters’ The Paying Guests, Anne Tyler’s A Spool of Blue Thread and Ben Aaronovich’s Rivers of London (police procedural with magic).

My book collection at home is huge!  I love to have books around – to dip into, to savour, to revisit and comfort – read.  I collect the books I know that I’ll want to re-read at some point, or have that quirky bit of information I’ve never found anywhere else.  My collection is a real mixture of practical instruction – cooking, gardening, craft and great fiction, ranging from kids board books to genre to more literary.

Susan Hill wrote a wonderful book “Howards End is on the landing”, about a year of re-reading her own books.  I’d love to poke around in a collection like that – one that had grown organically over a lifetime love or books and  reading.

I was showing a group of very senior council people including the CEO and various directors around my branch library – and trying to impress them with my professionalism, competence and charm, when a crocodile of around 20 toddlers from a local preschool arrived for their weekly library visit.  This particular group happened to include my daughter, who cheerfully waved and called out “hello mummy” as she toddled past.  All her friends– trained to chant “please” and “thank you” in unison – chimed in with a “hello mummy” too, and a friendly wave to the senior managers, who looked a bit surprised, but did (mostly) wave back.

Libraries are gateways—they are open to all, allowing us to step beyond what we have and who we are, to learn and grow and become who we want to be.




Neil – Newtown

 I don’t read fiction, my imagination is strong enough, so I go to fact – histories and biographies.

At the moment, I am reading a John Lennon bio – The Lives of John Lennon by Albert Goldman.  The book was bagged by the critics for being too extreme.  There is a bio I am after to read, Michael Hollingshead; The Man who Turned the World onto LSD,  it’s a big controversial as he started the LSD movement. One book that sticks in my mind because of the flow of writing is on George Bernard Shaw by Michael Holroyd.  I’ve read 100’s of bios – the person or the writing have to be interesting for me.  I  wasn’t a big reader as a child, but I am curious on how other people live. 

I have been coming to this library every second day for the last eight years.  I like the convenience of the library, but I wish it had more space and seating. 



Jet and Jade – Newtown

Jet: I like to read action comic books. The Avengers is my favourite. When I grow up I want to be Wolverine. I always come to this library, I like the books.

Jade: We visit this library every week and Jet has been begging me the last couple of days to visit.  We have to been to other libraries but this is our local.

At home, when it’s my choice I like to read Jet educational stories. But if it his choice, within the last 12 months it’s all about The Avengers and Spiderman.




Kath – Newtown

I teach in the outreach program at Pine street and I have different classes for different people. At the moment I have a class for intellectually disabled adults, so when I am low on inspiration I come and look at the craft books and see what we can make. I take in consideration their level of ability. 

Today I am dropping off some books for my boyfriendhe is a big library user. I am having a look at some cooking books to get some ideas for recipes.  My partner has just joined – he is a man of extremes so he loves the library. He has been borrowing books on international politics and philosophy; he is a voracious reader.  

We just got rid of a lot of books, we have been travelling for a while and I got a kindle for my birthday, I have resisted it for a long time, but now I love it. We travelled through South America and we then did the Camino de Santiago walk in Spain.  It took us about 50 days  to walk about 1000 km.  I didn’t read any books prior to going, I wanted to go in completely fresh. My partner is writing a book about it now, he did extensive documentation along the way. 

I have always loved the childhood book The House that Beebo Built by Janine Ast (Author), Alain Gree (Author), Philippe Fix (Illustrator), which probably did help me get into my profession of making stuff. It’s about a little kid who hangs out with his grandfather and the government want to take their house and to prevent it from happening they keep building higher and higher with these beautiful  stacked objects to get away from them – into space. It is a gorgeous book. I found a second-hand copy of it at a garage sale recently.  As a child, I remembered the magical house with the big library and bespoke balconies knocked together. 

Ishmael by Daniel Quinn is a book I like to recommend to friends. It’s about the world and the way humanity has developed through the eyes of a gorilla that has been living in the wild and then captured and caged.  The start of the book begins with him advertising for a disciple to tell his story to humans. It’s a fantastic book. I like to lend that out and I bought a few copies.