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Book Groups! Everything you ever wanted to know about them.

The latest FoBL event on April 4th 2024 was held at the Hannaford Centre in Darling Street – the new location for Friends of the Balmain Library while the Balmain Library is undergoing renovation. Attended by nearly 40 people, some coming as far away as the Shire and even Perth Western Australia to find out about Book Groups. It was …

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Tea and Trivia

In late April we held another Tea and Trivia afternoon aptly named Books and Bunnies, given that 2023 was the Year of the Rabbit in the Chinese Calendar. We enjoyed the challenge of literary trivia including a round of questions about rabbits in literature. The aptly titled team “What’s Up Doc?” was triumphant, closely followed by “Greatest Expectations”. The “Balmain …

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Meredith Burgmann and The Ernies

Our first event of 2023 was sold out. Meredith Burgmann entertained us with her talk “The Ernie Awards – recording and publicising thirty years of misogyny”. There was much hilarity, and sometimes incredulity, at the shocking remarks which Meredith has collected over the years, but on a more serious note Meredith reflected upon our society as to how and why …

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Fiona’s Very Big Adventure – Life on the Ocean Wave

On Friday 2nd December last year FOBL’s chairperson, Fiona Mitchell kitted out in her bright yellow waterproof boat crew gear, regaled us with a highly entertaining account of her ‘Challenge of a lifetime’. This challenge was in response to an advertisement posted on the local Balmain ferry service.  It offered the opportunity to join a crew on a 70 foot …

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John Doyle – A Covid Memoir

How John Doyle coped with Covid We were very fortunate that John Doyle agreed to speak at a FOBL event. A date was set for September and there was a great response with a big, enthusiastic audience, many of whom had not been to a FOBL event before. They, especially, enjoyed the supper and wine provided and stayed long after …

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Deborah Oswald – “A Murder I Could Imagine Committing”

We had a wonderful start, albeit belated, to our FOBL events this year. In May Debra Oswald joined us in Balmain Town Hall to talk about her book, The Family Doctor, to a large and enthusiastic audience. As some of the audience had not read her book, she was careful not to give away too much of the plot. She …

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Jonica Newby and “Beyond Climate Grief”

On a cold, rainy night we held our last FOBL event for 2021 in Balmain Town Hall. An enthusiastic FOBL audience welcomed award winning science reporter, Jonica Newby, and her partner, Robyn Williams, beloved ABC science journalist and reporter, to talk to us about her book “Beyond Climate Change”. In a fascinating discussion Jonica explained why she wrote her revealing …

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An evening with LA Larkin

An evening with LA Larkin. With the title “Cyber trolls, serial killers and the FBI – how does local author, L.A. Larkin, create such terrifying stories?” it was bound to be a fascinating talk. We were fortunate to host the launch of LA Larkin’s new book, Widow’s Island, at our second FOBL event for this year. It was held on …

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Chair’s Report – FOBL AGM 2021

Good evening everyone, I am very happy to welcome you to the FOBL AGM for 2021 and indeed for 2020. I am Fiona Mitchell, the Chair of FOBL. I’d like to welcome and thank Beverley Malone, the archivist from the Balmain Rowing Club, for agreeing to speak tonight. We look forward to her talk. To begin: “I would like to …

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FOBL visits Marrickville and Ashfield Libraries

On June 20th, the Balmain Community Bus took a bus load of FOBL members on an outing to two of the Inner West libraries, accompanied by Kathy Kalaizis (Senior Library Programming and Events Officer) and Lisa Mantle (Library Programming and Events Officer) from Balmain library. Our first stop was Marrickville Library, built on the old site of the Marrickville hospital. …

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Jack Goodman President of FOLA on ABC Radio

FOBL is a member of the Friends of Libraries Australia (FOLA). On March 4th, Jack Goodwin, the President of FOLA, was interviewed on ABC Radio about the funding of public libraries and their role in the community. We thought this would be interesting to anyone who loves their local library and indeed any library. Listen to the conversation below:   …

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FOBL AGM 2023 – Chair’s Report

Good evening everyone, I would like to welcome you to the FOBL AGM in which I shall report on our work in the last year. I am Fiona Mitchell, the Chair of FOBL. I’d like to welcome and thank our speaker,Derek Mortimer whose book, Conditions Apply and other stories, will be launched after the AGM tonight. To begin: “I would …

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Chair’s report – FOBL AGM May 2022

Good evening everyone, I would like to welcome you to the FOBL AGM for 2022. I am Fiona Mitchell, the Chair of FOBL. I’d like to welcome and thank Duncan MacAuslan, the President of the Balmain Association, for agreeing to speak to us tonight. We look forward to his talk. To begin: “I would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians …

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Friends of Libraries Australia (FOLA)

Prior to the formation of FOLA, a Friends Sub-Committee of the Library Promotion Committee of Victoria (LPCV) was established in 1987 by Daniel Ferguson. Friends of Libraries Australia (FOLA) was officially launched on the 9th of December 1994 by Justice Michael Kirby AC, SMG at the State Library of Victoria. On that occasion Daniel Ferguson, newly appointed Executive Officer, outlined …

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Chair’s Report – FOBL AGM 2021

Good evening everyone, I am very happy to welcome you to the FOBL AGM for 2021 and indeed for 2020. I am Fiona Mitchell, the Chair of FOBL. I’d like to welcome and thank Beverley Malone, the archivist from the Balmain Rowing Club, for agreeing to speak tonight. We look forward to her talk. To begin: “I would like to …

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News from FOBL

Dear FOBL members, We hope that this finds you and your loved ones well at this difficult time. We are delighted that our Balmain Library is open once again as, for us, at least, reading has been a great solace whilst we are keeping our distance from one another. The FOBL committee has been keeping itself busy. Just last week …

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Professor Steve Rayner (1953-2020)

Many members, I am sure, will remember the memorable talk delivered in August of 2018 by Professor Steve Rayner of the James Martin Institute, Oxford University entitled “Climate Change: Armageddon or Damp Squib”. It was one of our most successful events attracting a large audience of both members and non-members alike. Few however, would have been aware at the time …

Pam Dingle – (1933-20.11.2019) Friend of the Friends of Balmain Library.

Pam was a very early member of FOBL.  She served as both Chair and Membership Secretary as well as being involved in our other activities. She stepped into the role of Chair at a moment’s notice when I had to leave the role hastily for medical reasons.  She was rather horrified by the large amount of paperwork I handed over …

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Nadia Wheatley wins the Nib Literary Award

Nadia Wheatley was our first speaker of 2019. We are thrilled to hear that she has won the prestigious Nib Literary Award, chosen out of a short list of six finalists. It is a recognition of the meticulous research that went into her insightful and thought-provoking memoir, Her Mother’s Daughter. On winning Nadia said that writing the memoir was something …

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May 2024 Open Book Group – Small Things Like This by Claire Keegan

Welcome to Libby. Thank you to Karen for moderating Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan. The novella was shortlisted for the Booker Prize 2022. Small Things Like These takes place in December 1985 in the small town of New Ross in County Wexford, Ireland. The main protagonist is Bill Furlong a middle-aged Coal and Timber Merchant. He is married …

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March 2024 Open Book Group – Edenglassie by Melissa Lucashenko

Welcome to Julie. Thank you to Trish for moderating Edenglassie by Melissa Lucashenko. Melissa Lucashenko is a Koori woman of Bunjalung and European heritage. Edenglassie is her seventh novel and the follow-up to the award-winning Too Much Lip (OBG February 2022). Edenglassie was the name given to colonial Brisbane – a combination of Edinburgh and Glasgow. The novel tells two …

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February 2024 Open Book Group – The Magician by Colm Toibin

Welcome to Michelle. I enjoyed moderating The Magician by Colm Toibin.   Paul Thomas Mann was a German novelist, short story writer, social critic, philanthropist, essayist, and the 1929 Nobel Prize in Literature winner. His novels and novellas are noted for their insight into the psychology of the artist and the intellectual. His analysis and critique of the European and …

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December 2023 Open Book Group – Bournville by Jonathan Coe

Thank you to Rob for moderating Bournville by Jonathan Coe.   Jonathan Coe is a well-established, prolific, award-winning English author. He has published 14 novels, a children’s book and a biography of English novelist, poet and filmmaker, B.S. Johnson.    Bournville is centred around a quiet, suburb of the same name southwest of Birmingham. It is the home of a famous chocolate …

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October 2023 OpenBook Group – Transit of Venus by Shirley Hazzard

Thank you to Tina for moderating The Transit of Venus by Shirley Hazzard. Published in 1980, Hazzard’s novel is a Modern Classic. Caro, gallant and adventurous, is one of two Australian sisters who have come to post-war England to seek their fortunes. Courted long and hopelessly by a young scientist, Ted Tice, she is to find that love brings passion, …

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September 2023 Open Book Group – Bewilderment by Richard Powers

Thank you to Jane for moderating Bewilderment by Richard Powers. Bewilderment was shortlisted for the 2022 Booker Prize. Theo Byrne is an astrobiologist who spends his days in academia, trying to solve the Fermi Paradox – why given all the universe’s time and space, there seems to be no one out there. His wife Alyssa, a climate activist, has recently …

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August 2023 Open Book Group – Horse by Geraldine Brooks

Welcome to Pamela and Pauline. Thank you to Lesley for moderating Horse by Geraldine Brooks.  Geraldine Brooks is a celebrated writer of historical fiction. Her previous novels include Pulitzer Prize-winning March, Year of Wonders, The People of the Book (OBG September 2008), and The Secret Chord (OBG September 2017). Horse uses the true story of a 19th-century racehorse Lexington to …

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July 2023 Open Book Group – Cold Coast by Robyn Mundy

I enjoyed moderating Cold Coast by Robyn Mundy.  Cold Coast is feminist historical fiction centred around Wanny Woldstad. She was born Ivanna Margrethe Ingvardsen in Sommaroy Norway in 1893. In 1932, Anders Saeterdal recruited her for a trapping expedition to the remote Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard. She was the first female trapper to go there. The novel reflects the values …

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