Children’s activities in the library’s early days

In the May school holidays of 1978 the Coffs Harbour Advocate newspaper (4th May 1978) advertised that local mothers Jennifer Worthy and Denise Lewis would be “telling the littlies stories in the library’s sunny courtyard”, referring to the courtyard of the Harry Bailey Memorial Library. The article stated that mums could leave their 4-6 year olds at the library for half an hour on Wednesdays and Fridays from 11 – 11:30am “providing they return promptly to retrieve them when storytime is over”, obviously a very different climate for litigation than we have today!

The courtyard of the Harry Bailey Memorial Library provided an ideal space, during fine weather, for children’s events such as pottery classes, puppet shows and musical performances. On one occasion this included a visit from a Gumbaynggirr elder with a real live Joey as guest of honour to talk about kangaroos and their environment.

Coffs Harbour Library was also a part of the Children’s Libraries Film Circuit of New South Wales, established in 1974 the circuit gave children access to quality films for free through their public library. The Eastland Opinion (15th April, 1981) describes one of the films “Matrioska” as employing “the magic of stop-motion animation to throw the Russian doll into a dance routine which will delight younger children”. Matrioska was one of four short films that were screened together over 3 sessions in the library in April 1981.

Written by Skye Ravenscroft

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