September 7 - 13, 2014: Issue 179


Mona Vale Library Celebrates 10 Years at Village Park 


The library card is a passport to wonders and miracles, glimpses into other lives, religions, experiences, the hopes and dreams and strivings of ALL human beings, and it is this passport that opens our eyes and hearts to the world beyond our front doors, that is one of our best hopes against tyranny, xenophobia, hopelessness, despair, anarchy, and ignorance.  Libba Bray

Mona Vale Library has a range of great activities for all ages commencing this week and all are invited to join in one or all of these to celebrate 10 years in this beautiful space and community hub where you may do anything from read a book to hiring a movie to finding an audio-book to suit, or join in the Chess Club, the Men’s Reading Group or even learn how to knit with the Woolly Wednesday group. 

Mona Vale library has succeeded in achieving what we all needed – a community hub where you can hear from Authors, listen to proponents speak about subjects they have studied for years, bring children to play with Lego, or even this History Month 2014 – attend a Talk on the Great War, or one on the Poets of the Great War or even go to a Kids Prom – yes; Music in the Library too!

Libraries allow children to ask questions about the world and find the answers. And the wonderful thing is that once a child learns to use a library, the doors to learning are always open.  Laura Bush

The first event this September begins during History Week where visitors may view an impressive photographic and memorabilia display that pays homage to those people from our local area who served during WWI. The display features a number of war veterans from Pittwater, and has come together with the generosity of local residents who have kindly loaned memorabilia from family members who served in The Great War.

Local Studies Librarian Sharelle Ravenscroft said the community response to the request for war-time items was very positive.

“Whilst the Pittwater area was not well populated in during the WWI era, we’ve had a small number of families who have generously loaned us some of their ancestor’s prized WWI treasures to put on display.

“The display, on exhibition from Monday 8 September until Monday 22 September, includes photographs, war diaries, uniform items, ‘trench art’ and more.

“It’s a rare opportunity to be able to view such personal items of rich historical significance from past members of our community,” added Ms Ravenscroft.

Ms Ravenscroft said the exhibition had been extended this year to tie in with Mona Vale Libraries 10th Birthday celebrations.

“We are fortunate to have one of our featured veteran’s grandsons, Mr Jim Munro, explain in detail the first battle of the Australian troops on the Western Front, with the talk,  The Battle of Fromelles on, Wednesday 10 September 6.30pm,”Ms Ravenscroft said.

Mr Murno is also the Vice President of the Families and Friends of the First AIF, a group dedicated to perpetuating the memory of the service and sacrifice of the soldiers who served in The Great War 1914-1918.

From Pittwater Council on these birthday celebrations:

Library Celebrates 10 Years at Village Park

Mona Vale Library celebrates its first decade at Village Park this September. Residents of all ages are invited to join the celebrations from Sunday 14 September until Saturday 20 September. The library at Village Park was opened in September 2004 by the then Mayor, Cr. Lynne Czinner replacing the original building that was built in 1971.

Pittwater Council’s Mayor, Jacqueline Townsend said the library had diversified over the years to meet the varied needs of our community.

“Aside from the technology advances of recent times, the library has evolved into a real community hub. Our Library Services Co-ordinator Ms Cathy Howie has done a wonderful job evolving the library from its traditional use with innovative events.”

“Over the past decade Mona Vale Library has expanded its range of activities and moved into non-traditional areas of education and learning,” added Cr Townsend.

Library Services Co-ordinator Ms Cathy Howie said there were a range of services that had been developed to meet the needs of specific client groups; including our little pre-schoolers, seniors, HSC students and book lovers, to name a few.

Ms Howie praised the contribution of library staff, who have put together a diverse program of events for the 10th birthday.

“The Library celebrations bring together a variety of events during September, including History Week 6-14 September, acknowledging the Great War with photography and memorabilia on display.

“During the birthday week (14-20 September) there will be everything from an orchestral kids prom by the Northern Beaches Orchestra to a literary talk on First World War poetry.

“A Big Reading Group will have fun dissecting The Rosie Project*, and for those who love the big screen, enjoy a movie night with a screening of Steven Spielberg’s War Horse,” added Ms Howie.

*Borrow a copy from the library now in preparation for fun discussion on 15 Sept at 10am.

Ms Howie said the library excelled at bringing residents together for a good cause and called for knitters and stitchers to come along on Friday 19 September to be part of the very successful Knit-In, where participants sew knitted squares into blankets for those in need.

As part of the Mona Vale Library’s 10th Birthday Celebrations in September, residents with outstanding fines can opt to have their fines waived in exchange for canned food. In return for every regular sized can of food, the Mona Vale Library will waive $5 from existing fines. 

Each donation will benefit the Street Mission charity, a volunteer organisation which supports the needs of disadvantaged people by providing food, linkages to other charities and offering new experiences.

Pittwater Council’s Mayor Jacqui Townsend praised the initiative, saying it was a ‘thoughtful and inventive’ and a clever way to raise community awareness for those in need as well as profile the wonderful work local volunteers do in bridging the gap that exists in much needed services in our community.

“Last year the library also held a ‘food for fines amnesty’ which resulted in 850 cans of food being donated to Street Mission with donations being used in hampers given our to disadvantaged people and were also used in meals prepared at their two northern beaches cafés.

“Each month volunteers give their time to serve over 300 meals to those in need,” added Mayor Townsend.

Library Services Manager, Cathy Howie said the fines amnesty would help a very worthy cause as well as provided an incentive for people to revisit the library, reduce their outstanding fines and return overdue books.

“The amnesty, running through September, applies to fines only and not to charges for lost or damaged books or to costs associated with reserving books,” Mrs Howie said.

Mrs Howie reminded members to bring their library card with them when they donate their canned food. Members can find out how much they owe online and follow the My Account link.

Celebrations will conclude with a ‘pop-up Library’ in the walkway between the Library and the Mona Vale Memorial Hall on Saturday 20 September as part of the Mona Vale Village Economies Summit Long Lunch event.

In Mona Vale Library Foyer - 'Whale Dreaming' - 6IW Newport Public School


The phrase ‘the rise of civilisation’ conjures up images of wonderful landscapes filled with creatures of every kind and plants of all descriptions,  with wide eyed laughing children and sage elders, with buildings that don’t disrupt the flow of the natural land and enhance its seasons, whatever the season. The rise of civilisation is also about the maintaining of civilisation – to be able to give medicines to the sick, justice to those sinned against, a roof over the head and food in the belly of each succeeding generation so we may live and thrive and dream – as families, a community and a species.

At the heart of any community that has thought about its centres is a green space, a park, a village green... a meeting place of common ground. On the verge of this dancing space, this picnic lawn and amphitheatre for fetes, fairs and Shakespeare in the Park could be a place where you can find the tomes of the Bard himself … a library. 

The rise of minds occurs in libraries, the ignition of passions in hearts through access to the paths trodden before us. They are where you can stand silently and know we are adding knowledge, that here is what underpins and maintains the rise of our civilisation - all that is in the minds and hearts of people that has found a way to express itself in words, in pictures, in art, in events where people gather to listen and be listened to.

In the year 2000 Pittwater Council voted to construct a new building to house a new library. The old building, with cathedral like ceilings and a great hideaway nook upstairs for reference works and students, was originally a branch of Dee Why library and more space was needed. 

Mona Vale Library, 1978. – courtesy State Library of NSW

From the architects on this structure:

Mona Vale Village Park Civic Centre and Library

by Brewster Hjorth Architects


The new Mona Vale Civic Centre includes the refurbishment and refit of the old Col Madigan designed library building as a Council Customer Service Centre and a large new Library building constructed underground below the adjacent parkland. The complex provides a new Civic focus for the Mona Vale Village and a new home for Pittwater Council as well as a range of places for various experiences including a new Civic Place, outdoor café, a new parkland amphitheatre and an integrated pedestrian link between the two halves of the village. 

The new Library is located in two underground curved pavilions, linked by a central sunken garden which provides light and outlook as well as an external reading area for the library users. The internal spaces of the Library are brilliantly lit by natural light from the courtyard and the long curved lantern which encloses the main entry ramp. The building incorporates a range of innovative and unique ESD initiatives which take advantage of the building’s location to dramatically cut energy use. 

The architect’s work included the design of special shelving, furniture, signage and graphics in addition to their traditional roles to create a completely integrated facility.

Retrieved from:

With a library you are free, not confined by temporary political climates. It is the most democratic of institutions because no one – but no one at all – can tell you what to read and when and how. Doris Lessing

The old building became Pittwater Council’s Customer Service and Planning area.  Since its opening this wonderful space has given everyone from every generation an opportunity to find answers to their questions in everything from Local History to the current bestsellers on the children’s list. 

What our library at Mona Vale has given us is a reflection of our community and its interests as well as our aspirations ... and here, amongst our own Village Green we find that...

Libraries store the energy that fuels the imagination. They open up windows to the world and inspire us to explore and achieve, and contribute to improving our quality of life. Sidney Sheldon

For more details visit or see the Events listed below


At the Library Building at Pittwater Road, Narrabeen, on Saturday afternoon, the official opening of the Narrabeen branch of the Phillip Park Children's Library Movement will take place. Mrs. S. A. D. Storey, who is patroness, will perform the opening. An arts and crafts exhibition will also be held, and in the evening a show of outstanding documentary films will be given in the grounds of Mrs. Steven-son's home at Robertson Street, Narrabeen. LIBRARY FOR CHILDREN. (1948, January 15). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 6. Retrieved from

Mr. Edmund Wollstoncraft was a director of the Bank of Australia, and with his partner acted as honorary treasurer of the Australian Subscription Library, the first library in the colony instituted in February, 1826. Hon. Alexander Macleay, Colonial Secretary, was the first President, and Lieutenant de la Condamine, A.D.C. to Governor Darling, to whom the credit of founding the library is mainly due, was honorary secretary. The only thing to remind us of this benefactor I know of, is Condamine-road, leading from Balgowlah to Manly. More Ramblings With an Old Directory. (1919, July 3).Freeman's Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1850 - 1932), p. 11. Retrieved from

Photo: Thomas de la Condamine (1797-1873), by unknown photographer - courtesy of State Library of New South Wales (Australia's First Library), GPO 1 - 18696

 State Library of NSW Public Library Services - Kuringgai Municipal Council Mobile Branch Library circa 1949.

Librarians Alison, Heather and Sharelle at Mona Vale Library this week -  getting ready for 10th Birthday Celebrations.

A Little Extra:


At the eastern end of Bent Street; which forms a winding continuation of Bridge Street and Macquarie Place, on an eminence of considerable elevation, stands the Australian Library. The Institution, to which this handsome edifice owes its name and existence, was first established through the exertions of Thomas De La Condamine, Esquire, Private Secretary to Governor Darling, about one-and-twenty years ago. The projector, communicating the object of his honourable ambition to the Reverend Messrs. Cowper and Hill, immediately gained their hearty co-operation--which was also most willingly afforded by the merchants of Sydney and other residents. The Society began its career under the official sanction and patronage of His Excellency the Governor, and has ever since steadily advanced in utility and importance. The first meeting was held at the Sydney Hotel, on February 3rd, 1826, when Alexander M'Leay, Esquire, F.R.S., was elected President, and a subscription list made out. By the judicious arrangements of the Committee--furthered, also, by the liberal donations of Governor Darling and Archdeacon Scott, and a large bequest of books left by the Will of T. Campbell, Esq.--the Library was opened on the 1st October, 1827, at No. 1 Terry's Buildings, Pitt Street. These premises were held conjointly with the Sydney Dispensary, the officer of which served also as a temporary Librarian, daily, from 1 to 4 P.M. Shortly afterwards, it was enriched by Governor Darling's granting to its use some valuable allotments of land:--first, two situated in Hyde Park, on what now lies between the Sydney College and St. Mary's Cathedral, as a site for the Institution; and, secondly, two other pieces of land above {page 15} Rushcutter's Bay, in aid of the Building Fund. The latter were sold by public auction, in the year 1841, for £3384.


Retrieved from:

The trustees of the Free Library have issued their third report. This document, signed by Dr. BADHAM, the chairman, is intended to inform Parliament what they have done to provide the people with knowledge, and how the boon has been received by the people.

"When the probable effect of such a library was discussed in Parliament previous to the determining vote being given for its creation, the belief was commonly expressed that it would prove a failure: such an institution could not be wanted where the people were too busy to read ; it would be merely a tenantless void. The library of the School of Arts existed, and that supplied the wants of the population. The experiment has not justified these sayings. Although it is true that there are few persons of leisure, that is to say, persons who are without business, in the city, there are great numbers whose occupations allow them to cultivate a taste for literature. Between the hours of closing the great mercantile, banking, and Government establishments and ten o'clock in the evening of every day a considerable space exists for studious minus to lay in stores of wealth from the works of the learned; and beyond this there is the Saturday half-holiday, and a great many whole holidays, when the reading-room is thronged with those who resort to " the pleasant paths of literature " on such occasions as naturally as their buoyant companions seek their pleasure and recreation on the water, the rail, or the road. If the library were within more easy reach of all it would undoubtedly be much more used than it now is, but so far as we hare gone it has proved a sufficient attraction to occasion a demand for more space both for books and readers.

Since the last list was made up 1518 books have been added to the sum, so that the library consists of 23,446 volumes. Besides, there are 1075 pamphlets. In the appendix to the report appear the titles of these books, from which we perceive that, although the trustees discover a bias in favour of rare and scholarly books that will be of little value to the general reader, and will probably never do much towards the formation of the rising mind of the colony, a great many being rather curious than wise, they are much more disposed than they seemed at first to favour the introduction of treatises on the sciences. Those who now visit the library will find the shelves weighted with the best works of reference that are to be obtained, and since an arrangement has been made with their agents in London by the trustees, by which the former are empowered to send out as early as possible a suitable selection from the latest books published in Europe and America, the institution will soon be deservedly popular, not only with those who are without books, and desire to be saved the expense of them, but by students whose means of adding to their private shelves are less potent.

A return of the number of volumes showing the average number of books of each class use by readers affords us some idea of the manner in which the library is being used. Those who consult it, however, must remember that it will not bear any heavy superstructure, since it is made up from the books that are found about, the readers being requested never to re-place a volume in the shelves, but to leave that to be done by the attendant. The average number of readers is 253.

Making a rough average throughout the 303 reading days of the year 1873, the attendants have found about, and returned to their place every day, 30 volumes from the presses containing natural philosophy, science, and arts, 36 volumes of history, chronology, antiquities, and mythology ; 25 of biography and correspondence, 25 of voyages and travels, 136 of periodical and serial literature, 21 of law, politics, eke. ; 17 of theology, moral and mental philosophy ; 15 poetry and the drama, 143 Greek and Latin classics, foreign literature, and miscellaneous literature ; 55 works of reference, 72 of prose fiction, 4 of patents. Therefore contrasting the numbers of volumes in each section of the library with those which represent the daily use of the same, it will be observed that the taste is greatest for prose fiction and serial literature, these ranking 5-43 and 4 22 per cent, respectively, whilst natural philosophy, science, and arts stand at 1-74per cent., and history, chronology, &c., at 1 93. Books on law, political economy, commerce, as might be consulted with great advantage by some sections of the community, for the percentage is low, 1-48. In the next report it will, probably, be seen that the iron strike has afforded an opportunity to the workers in this department of industry to inform themselves on such subjects. There is good reading for all engaged in mechanical pursuits in the 3161 patent specifications, only four of which seem to have been troubled by inquiring minds during the year. It may be observed with respect to the prose fiction, that it now represents the best of its kind, the first act of the trustees having been to sell all the trash for what it would fetch.

There is one respect in which our expectations have not been realized. The donations of books to the library have been meagre. Many persons might enrich this public institution with books from their libraries which they never use. Probably because they derive no profit from them they regard them as of no value. In some cases this estimate would be confirmed by the trustees; but the chances are that in the donation of such unused lore they would perceive highly estimable properties.

For a period of about three weeks the building in Bent-street is to be given up to the Colonial Architect for the purpose of being internally enlarged and better suited to the growing wants of the institution. A gallery is to be thrown across the north end ; a room for lectures is to be provided ; and the whole interior is to be cleansed and coloured. This dawning provision for lectures will be welcome to all who have been wishing for such series of lectures as are given to working men, teachers, and others at the London School of Mines. We are not informed whether this is what the trustees contemplate, but it may be. This enlargement is merely provisional. The attention of Parliament is called to the fact that another building is wanted at once, 'lhc authorities solicit "a more suitable and commodious building, in a convenient part of the city, which would afford better accommodation to students, and give a larger space for the arrangement of books." In urging this suit, they do not propose to relinquish the building in Bent-street, but to retain it as a lending branch, in connection with the main-reference library, wherever that shall be restored to. This amplification of the general scheme will be received as a comfortable iterance that the managers, though unpaid, take a liberal and progressive view of their duties in relation to the Free Public Library, which is to exist for the many. The proposal that readers should be allowed to take the books home from the present library has been discussed, and disapproved of for obvious reasons. But the strong demand for a home supply of leading has led to the determination to form branch lending libraries, wherever current literature can be supplied. These being also free, would prove a great boon to the people of the city, and would increase the scope of the library's usefulness. For this purpose, however, funds will be required, and we note that as it is Parliament is behind hand in its payments, and inattentive to there recommendations of the trustees for the adequate payment for good service in respect of the attendants.

And now will our readers hear, as the preachers say, a few words in conclusion, about the building for which the trustees ask. If they had not intimated that the site of the Museum is wanting in convenience, we should have said where, supposing that site to afford insufficient space, can it be better placed than on the triangular piece of swelling ground immediately in front of it, between College and Boomerang streets ? There is space enough, and the library might be protected from dust by fringes of trees, and the air cooled by fountains in the approaches. In the event, too, of the completion of the Museum, and the consecration of part of it to fine art, William-street, lying between, could be bridged, and the institutions united, as they should be. To separate the Public Library from the Museum of Natural History and Antiquity, and the Galleries of Art, is to dissever the letterpress from the illustrations in the book of knowledge. The two should be side by side, so that the student may turn from one to consult the other. It would be a little troublesome to the reader of " GOULD'S Birds of Australia " if the pictures were separated from the letterpress by an omnibus ride. And if we are to be provided with lending branches here is perhaps less" reason for the reference library being stationed exactly in the centre of the population.

Men have been accustomed to enshrine for consultation and worship that power or authority from which they derive their supremacy in the world. With us the book seems to stand in this relation; for, without books, mankind would speedily relapse into the savage state. It is well, therefore, that the book containing the recorded experience of men, which is at once the evidence and the organ of their superiority over all forms of animate creation, should be located in buildings specially erected to preserve it, and that the people should be encouraged to resort to this source of knowledge for power to overcome the obstacles to further advancement.

The Sydney Morning Herald. (1874, March 6). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 4. Retrieved from

Report and extra pictures by A J Guesdon, 2014.