In the middle of last year, I was sitting in on a Regional and Remote Libraries Working Group meeting and we were discussing recent events that we’d hosted and how they had fared. Soraya, from Albany Library and a good friend of mine, was explaining that Albany had recently been a Live & Local partner for the Sydney Writers’ Festival (SWF). She explained that public libraries were able to sign up as a partner and could live stream the sessions for no cost at all.
I must admit, my ears perked up at this. Having being on the PLWA Online Events Working Group over COVID and arranging online author talks, I was well aware of how much author talks could cost. I was also very conscious of how out of reach they could be for my small budget here at the Bindoon Library. Given that SWF sold tickets to the public to stream the event at a cost of $35 per day, I was even more eager to jump on board so I could offer this event to my community for free.
SWF warmly welcomed us as a Live & Local partner and we were one of only 4 libraries in WA who signed up. The entire process was so easy. All I had to do was do some local promotion and then host the event. I could pick and choose the sessions that we streamed here and curate an event to suit our members.
Ultimately we ended up with a 3 day program, with 3 sessions per day. The days kicked off early, thanks to the time difference with Sydney, but I offset the 8 am start by ensuring that there was plentiful tea, coffee, ham and cheese croissants, and hot hash browns.Food is very important when hosting an event!
The 2023 SWF had attracted some popular and talented authors. Our program kicked off with Jane Harper, the author of Aussie noir novels such as The Dry and her latest release, Exiles. Next was the immensely entertaining and enthusiastic Richard Fidler, who drew us into the colourful and prosperous history of Islam’s Golden Age. Our first day then wrapped up with a talk with Geraldine Brooks, whose research for her latest release, Horse, had her doing a deep dive into the history of horse racing in the USA in the 19th century. She discussed issues of race, slavery, and the risk of a white woman telling the story of black men and the reception she’d received to the book.
With talks from other authors such as Eleanor Catton, Pip Williams, Michael Kirby, Bo Seo, Sally Collin-James, Maggie Beer, Stephanie Alexander, Tom Rob Smith and more, it was a remarkable and enthralling program.
If you missed out this year, never fear. We will be signing up again next year and hope that it will be bigger and even better. In the meantime, keep an eye out on SWF’s YouTube channel for recordings of this year’s sessions – and keep an ear out for the several questions asked by our own community members!