Dorothy Neal White
END OF THE YEAR FUNCTION 2000
The last meeting of 2000 will be something a bit different for the Friends. We have invited members of Khandallah Arts Theatre to put on a performance for us based on Kenneth Grahame’s classic story, Wind in the willows. We expect this to be lots of fun and a fitting way to end the year!
This event will be held at
6pm on 5 December 2000 in the Lower Ground Floor meeting room of the National Library building. In keeping with tradition there will be festive drinks and nibbles and convivial chat from 5.30pm to start the evening. We hope many members (and their friends) will be able to attend.
FROM THE CURATOR
In October the children’s collections were visited by two groups of students, the first from the International School of Design (Wellington) and the second from a Massey University design course. After learning about the history and scope of the Dorothy Neal White and National Children’s Collections both groups listened to an illustrated talk about the features of picture books, with an emphasis on design and illustration.
The Project funded by a Trustees’ Research Grant was completed at the end of June, when the cataloguers had reached fiction books by authors with names starting with ‘We’. From July work on completing the enhancing of the bibliographic records for the Collection has been incorporated into Bibliographic Services standard workflows. At present Karin Andersen is continuing to catalogue books held in the ‘secure’ cabinet, Sarah Knox is cataloguing donations and Patricia Godfrey is completing the main fiction sequence. They will then move on to the non-fiction and serials sequences. Because we do not stick labels on to books in the Dorothy Neal White Collection we currently shelve the non-fiction books by title within the 000s, 100s, 200s, etc. We have decided that we will now classify each non-fiction title and use an acid-free bookmark with the Dewey Number at the top to organise the non-fiction books.
49 books have now had their dust jackets repaired by Conservation staff. When Conservation staff have completed their review of enclosures used for heritage collections we may enclose all of the non-fiction books and perhaps progressively change the current system of using sealed plastic bags for fragile items. The bags are good at preventing further damage occurring but need to be resealed by Conservation staff each time a book is requested by a client—and somehow people seem to request a disproportionately large number of bagged books.
12 books have been gratefully received into the Dorothy Neal White Collection since the last newsletter. In addition, 22 books have been offered to the National Children’s Collection.
In October 1999 I was asked to compile a list of the 100 most popular children’s books in the twentieth century. This proved something of a challenge. There are many lists of the best books. I could find lists of the biggest selling titles in the United States of America—but of course they didn’t include many books that were popular in Britain, and Australian and New Zealand titles barely featured. I consulted printed sources, friends, colleagues and my memory. The result, an article entitled ‘Popular Children’s Books in the Twentieth Century’ was published in Reading Forum N.Z. No. 1 2000. The same issue carried a fascinating article by Hugh Price entitled ‘On ox! On we go! Teaching children to read in the twentieth century’.
Susan Price Collection
In July this year I received the tenth Annual Report of the Susan Price Collection. The Library plans to celebrate this event by publishing an article about Susan, her generous donation and the Susan Price Collection. I do not yet know which magazine or paper will carry the article.
Visit to ALA
In July, I was fortunate to attend the American Library Association Conference (along with 25,000 other librarians). One of my responsibilities was to publicise the Dorothy Neal White and National Children’s Collections along with other National Library collections and electronic services.
Curator, Dorothy Neal White Collection
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
The Annual General Meeting of the Friends of the Dorothy Neal White Collection was held at 6pm on Monday 19 June 2000, in the Lower Ground Floor Meeting Room at the National Library. The evening began in the traditional way with drinks, nibbles and chat. A wonderful talk by well-known writer and broadcaster Kate De Goldi, intriguingly entitled LM, KM, EL, ME and Me KDG, followed the AGM.
For the first time for many years there were significant changes to the Friends’ Committee. Our long-time President, Mary Hutton, and Secretary, Alison Grant, decided it was time to step down from these positions. The meeting expressed its sincere gratitude to them both for the contribution they have made to the Society, and each was presented with a gift. In thanking the committee for their gifts Mary and Alison said how much they had enjoyed working with the Friends and committee members. Fortunately both generously agreed to stay on the Committee for another year. All other committee members also accepted re-nomination with some changes in responsibilities. In addition Kerry Fryer has joined the committee.
The full committee is Position
564 4496 (wk)
474 3110 (wk)
479 2344 (wk)
387 1485 (wk)
Mary Atwool also returned to the Committee but has since moved to Dunedin and it is with great regret that we have had to accept her resignation.
A contribution from our new President, Julie Eberly, and a profile of Mary Atwool can be found later in this newsletter.
PRESIDENT’S REPORT – AGM 2000
The year 1999/2000 has seen members of the Friends’ committee continuing their role of supporting and supplementing the work of the Curator. The committee has met regularly throughout the year and has arranged two general meetings for Friends.
The previous year saw us embarked on a major project – publication of Dorothy Neal White: a tribute, no.7 in the series Books – Notes – Authors. This year has been one of consolidation.
In May 1999 the President received a document from the National Librarian entitled An update to stakeholders: towards the 21st century, with an invitation to attend a meeting on
14 May 1999 at which the developments for the future would be discussed. Two committee members, Mary Hutton and Julie Eberly, attended this meeting, together with representatives of other bodies associated with the National Library. Following this meeting two committee members, Alison Grant and Mary Hutton, sent a submission to the National Librarian expressing concern over National Library’s current and future collection development policy. The submission focussed especially on the children’s collections. Trevor Mowbray and Julie Eberly, both committee members, were later interviewed at another meeting with National Library staff.
In August 1999 a further document was received, Final report for staff and stakeholders: linking information and people. The covering letter stated that the outcome of the review should be completed by 31 March 2000. We are unclear about what progress has been made in the restructuring. We are particularly concerned about the future staffing of the Dorothy Neal White Collection.
The Annual General Meeting was held on 15 March 1999 in the Auditorium foyer of the National Library. As usual, Friends mingled over drinks and nibbles before the AGM at 6.00pm. After the formal meeting Friends had the opportunity of touring the new home of the Dorothy Neal White Collection, guided by Curator Lynne Jackett and former Curator Mary Atwool. To conclude the evening’s activities there was a very successful sale of books surplus to the needs of the Collection.
At our end of year event on 2 December 1999, we were fortunate to have author / illustrator Bob Kerr as our guest speaker. He illustrated his talk with slides an original artwork. Bob talked about the books that had influenced him as a child and his pleasure at seeing his first New Zealand picture book Crayfishing with grandmother by Jill Bagnall and illustrated by Barbara Strathdee. We all appreciated having Bob share with us his ideas about his art, his writing and his reading.
A most successful evening, Tales told again, was held on 12 July 1999 when four guests (colleagues, family and friends) were asked to read from their favourite books. The readers were Brent Southgate, freelance editor, actors Kate Harcourt and Maria Heenan (a National Library cataloguer), and Walter Cook (from the Alexander Turnbull Library’s Photographic Archive). Some of the readings were well known to the audience, others less familiar. All were read in highly entertaining fashion. So enjoyable was the evening that the audience urged that another session of “tales” be held before too long.
Two newsletters, No. 25, November 1999 and No. 26, June 2000 have been issued to keep members up-to-date with activities associated with the Collection.
There have been no additions to the occasional papers Notes – Books – Authors this year but we hope to continue to add to this series in the future.
Photographs of Dorothy Neal White
Friends will be interested to know that copies and enlargements of the photographs used in Dorothy Neal White: a tribute have been make from the originals lent by Dorothy’s daughters, Vicki Feltham and Kerry Neal Wilson. The committee made a selection from these which will be used in the area where the Dorothy Neal White Collection is shelved.
Members of the Committee, following the AGM, with the framed photographs of Dorothy Neal White presented to the Collection, and the vases that were given as gifts to Mary Hutton and Alison Grant.
Activities associated with the Dorothy Neal White Collection March 1999 – March 2000
The Curator, Lynne Jackett, has supplied this information.
Requests for individual titles 21
Reference enquiries 13
There have been several individuals making casual visits to the Collection. Several groups of students attending the International School of Design in Wellington have visited for a tour and a talk about the collections and the characteristics of a good picture book.
820 books were catalogued using the Macklin Bequest of $10,000. In 1998 the Trustees of the National Library awarded a research grant of $15,000 which enabled the upgrading of the records for a further 903 books. In 1999 the Trustees made a further (and final) grant of $20,000. 900 records had been upgraded by the end of March and it is anticipated that by the end of June a total of 1,550 full bibliographic records will have been created using this allocation. This will leave a small section of the fiction sequence (U-Z), the non-fiction books, and the annuals and serials to have their records upgraded by Collection Services. All new acquisitions plus the contents of the “secure” cabinet are fully catalogued by the Schools Team in Collection Services.
Two small exhibitions were displayed in the Dorothy Neal White cabinet in the main National Library foyer. The first celebrated Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. The second, On the ball, featured rugby fiction and non-fiction from both the Dorothy Neal White and the National Children’s Collections. Several titles from the Dorothy Neal White and National Children’s Collection are included in the Te Waimano, an on-line exhibition curated by Malcolm McKinnon.
There are 47 personal financial members for the current year plus one life member, four honorary members and several institutional members. These figures represent an encouraging rise in membership from last year’s dismal count of 23 personal members. However, a drive for increased membership should be encouraged.
Reg Moss – It is with great regret that we record the death of Reg Moss on 10 June 1999. Friends will remember the occasion of the launching of his Charles Hamilton and the All Blacks (Notes – Books – Authors No.5) and Reg’s enthusiastic and knowledgeable talk about a subject dear to his heart. A number of books from his collection have been bequeathed to the Dorothy Neal White Collection.
Marie Byers – Friends were sad to hear of the death on 12 June 1999 of Mrs Marie Byers. She was a loyal supporter of our Society and a generous donor to the Dorothy Neal White Collection.
The Friends are grateful to the National Library for allowing us to hold our meetings free of charge in the National Library Building. Special thanks go to Ross Thornton, Venue Manager, and his staff for their assistance.
I should like to thank members of the Society for the continuing interest in the Collection. To committee members go special thanks for their support and enthusiasm.
L.M, K.M, E.L, M.E AND ME, K.D.G: A TALK BY KATE DE GOLDI
Mary Hutton introduced Kate De Goldi, expressing her appreciation of Kate’s books, and the pleasure of hearing her talks on the Kim Hill show. Kate began with some remarks on the theme of “Fiction Made Me”, illustrating this with memories of childhood reading. Her father had, from an almost bookless childhood, come to be an enthusiastic book-lover, and both her parents had committed themselves to creating a home rich both in books and story-telling.
Kate’s love of story was fostered in earliest childhood by the rich lore of oral history in her extended family, and by the Ginn readers used in her convent school. The spoken word and music continued to play an important part in her literary development, especially in the form of recordings of the folk-tales and other stories that formed the staple of the Sunday morning children’s request programmes so beloved of earlier generations of children.
An important milestone in Kate’s progress from keen reader to voracious book-owner was the gift of 101 Dalmations to her when she was seven. (The giver of the book, Jenny Zwartz, is a member of the Friends and was present at Kate’s talk). From then on, there was no stopping Kate: by the age of 14 she had amassed 400 Puffin paperbacks. Her personal library played a major role in her development as a person and as a writer. Kate believes that the act of reading fiction fashioned a world that represented a safe harbour for a girl who did not feel particularly talented in the more conventional channels for children’s endeavours. Through many examples, she showed how her early reading experiences influenced her own approach to writing fiction.
Kate De Goldi and Jenny Zwartz after Kate’s address to the Friends’ Annual General Meeting.
Listeners found many happy reading memories stirred by the delicious litany of authors and book titles Kate recited throughout her talk. It was great to find that some of our older personal favourites such as L M Montgomery and Noel Streatfeild had their place alongside such later luminaries as E L Konigsberg and M E Kerr. It was useful, too, to be reminded of the comforting contribution that more mundane series books play in the lives of young readers. The rich contribution of Kate’s childhood reading to her ability to explore the full possibilities of language, “layered and exotic, playful and puzzling”, was well demonstrated in her talk.
Kate’s testimony to the timelessness of good writing for children, and to the rich diversity of reading matter that contributes to the development of a life-long reader, was all the more telling given her success in creating enjoyment for a new generation of readers. In closing, Kate revealed that she is currently working on a book with a twelve-year old girl narrator, entitled Monumental Mason. Anyone listening to Kate who was not already familiar with her writing will now be just as keen as her long-time fans to read this.
Lynne Jackett thanked Kate on behalf of the Friends, noting some of the shared memories evoked by Kate’s examples (and surely there’s a thesis waiting to be written on the influence of “Diana and the Golden Apples” on the generation of girls born in the early 50s!)
Secretary, Friends of the Dorothy Neal White Collection
MY CHOICE – JULIE EBERLY
This is the first in a regular column in which committee members will review or reflect on books in the Dorothy Neal White Collection that they think are special. The first choice comes from Julie Eberly, the new President of the Friends.
As not all of you will have met me or know my background here is a brief introduction. I had an international upbringing but spent most of my growing up time in Washington, DC. While there I studied children’s literature and after we moved to Wellington 15 years ago I undertook some research using the Dorothy Neal White Collection. Subsequently I taught the children’s literature course in the Library program at the University – a real pleasure and I only hope my students learned half as much as I did! Over the past twenty years I have read extensively to my four children; the youngest is having Arthur Ransom read to him volume by volume. I hope I can even partially fill the role that Mary Hutton has so capably managed.
What’s Hot in the Collection
My attention was quickly drawn to the dramatic sounding Mrs Thunder by Eustace Boylan. But between some of the early illustrations and the nature of the hero it was, after all, not a compelling choice. A story whose main character is a henpecked, moustached late 20s or 30 year old seemed a less than appealing read.
Next I was attracted to a thicker volume with romantic overtones. Under the She-Oaks piqued my interest as I did not know what makes an oak a “she”. There was also plenty of local flavour and action in this 1903 Australian bush tale. Illustration titles such as “ ‘Mate,’ he said, ‘can you pull me through this?’ ” and “He found the blood streaming from her left hand” warranted further exploration. The title page provided early frustration as author Elisabeth Boyd Bayly had written other books including A New Zealand Courtship and other work-a-day stories. However this volume is not on the shelf – wouldn’t it be nice if the collection could acquire it?1 Deciding that the length of Under the She-Oaks was a prohibitive factor, I scanned the shelves for skinnier volumes.
Quantities of these exist. What should I turn to next? The numerous date stamps in The very little dragon and other stories, indicating this ex-library book by Margaret Baker to be very popular in the 1940s, decided me. Written in 1938, the book has adorable illustrations with a glorious full-colour one on the frontispiece. I was ready to read.
The first story uses the much-repeated theme of a small dragon who grows if you are afraid (or pretend it’s not real as in the Jack Kent version). As an adult the repetition of the dragon growing gradually bigger, then smaller as the youngest of its audience laughs at it, is a bit repetitive. But even so the description of the growth is different each time providing interesting animals as size comparisons. A hippopotamus, bull-terrier, and Persian kitten are included and the story’s conclusion, (the gardener’s boy kills it with a stone) is satisfyingly NOT politically correct.
Why this book was withdrawn from the donor library’s collection after three years (other than perhaps wear and tear, though this seems minimal) is hard to understand as it was being taken out on a more than monthly basis. This book is a delightful ‘read aloud’ volume. The length of the stories suits it to group reading though the smallish illustrations suit one-on-one better; I can easily envisage using it with my small group of six-year olds who need reading support. One of the important aspects of support reading is prediction, and these stories are ideal for encouraging children to think about what will happen next. The concluding story suggests the foolhardiness of a law allowing everyone to be happy. Throughout the ‘King Who Had Good Intentions’ children can consider the risks of laws such as “everyone must do as he is told” or “no one must forget to wipe his feet”. There is of course only one law that is truly necessary. What is it you may wonder? The answer can be found on page 96 of the book.
While quantity may not be a sign of quality it is usually an indication of popularity and the ten other volumes by Margaret Baker on the shelves of the Dorothy Neal White Collection attest to that. The curator will bring the books mentioned in this piece to our general meeting on the 5th of December for you to enjoy in person. But better yet make a time to stop by in person!
President, Friends of the Dorothy Neal White Collection
MARY ATWOOL RETIRES
Mary Atwool retired on 27 October 2000 after 28 (ish) years working for the National Library in a wide variety of roles. Friends’ committee members were able to take Mary, and her husband Brent Southgate, to dinner before they left for Dunedin. Below is an edited version of the account of her long career at the National Library that Mary wrote for the National Library staff newsletter News and Notes in October 2000.
The National Library of New Zealand had been officially in existence for only a few weeks when I visited it briefly during a week-long career orientation course for sixth-formers in May 1966. The section I went to was housed in a long-since demolished building on the block now occupied by the central Police station. The workspace was cramped and dingy and the staff seemed to be fighting a losing battle against the huge quantities of books that crowded every available space. Not for me, I thought as I moved off to consider the more glamorous attractions of Broadcasting.
However, when it came time to leave university, Library School presented itself as an opportunity to be paid for gaining a useful vocational qualification. I faced up to three very venerable gentlemen from the National Library, which was responsible for the Library School at that time. I was duly accepted, despite the fact that they obviously had some qualms about married women who, they hinted, were liable to be up and off if their husbands were suddenly transferred. I decided not to mention the fact that I was in possession of a small child as well as a husband.
Before starting the diploma course in 1972, I spent an enjoyable summer as a vacation worker at the Alexander Turnbull Library, then still in Turnbull House. My next National Library job took me to yet another outpost of what was a very fragmented set of locations, this time the Ongley Building on Thorndon Quay where the School Library Service had its headquarters. My work was to select non-fiction and to write reviews and compile book lists for teachers and librarians. I loved the work, and I loved working with people who had a formidable knowledge of children’s literature and the role it could play in schools. The rigorous on the job training in the skills of analysis, assessment and succinct writing provided an excellent foundation for later quite different work.
The fact that the position was part-time was an added attraction. The public service at that time did not offer permanent employment status for part-time staff or provide much in the way of equal employment opportunity initiatives, but this did not deter the SLS management under the understanding leadership of Laura Rosier and then Phyllis McDonald from informally operating an extremely “family-friendly” office during my five years there.
Having found working with children’s books so rewarding, and having been part of the discussions which resulted in the formation of the Children’s Historical Collection, I was readily tempted back to the National Library in 1987 to set up the collection in the Dorothy Neal White Room in the long-awaited new building. By then the School Library Service Head Office had been transformed into Education Services, automation had transformed the processes for acquiring and providing access to information, and the state sector was undergoing massive changes.
The opening of the new building had led to a strong focus on access to the Library’s collections. The establishment of the National Library Gallery gave the collections a public
profile and I was lucky enough to co-curate [with Mary Hutton] an exhibition, ‘Fabulous and Familiar’, which featured books from the Dorothy Neal White and National Children’s Collections.
Early in 1992 I moved to Policy and Planning, (aka Policy and Research, the Policy Secretariat, and now Policy and Strategic Development) where my colleagues initiated me into the mysteries of the machinery of government and policy advice, not to mention the arts of creating silk purses from sows’ ears. Seriously though, it has been a great privilege to represent the National Library in its policy dealings with government departments and other organisations, and to work closely with the Trustees and with the National Library’s Ministers.
Looking back to my early experiences of the National Library, I have no doubt that there have been huge advances since 1972 in terms of services, infrastructure and employment conditions, as well as some changes I have more mixed feelings about. One thing that has been characteristic throughout, however, is the loyalty displayed by long-serving staff and so often quickly adopted by more recent arrivals. This commitment to the Library as an institution makes it a very special place to work.
I have found the contact with staff from all around the National Library very rewarding, and I have been extremely grateful for the efforts of all those who work efficiently behind the scenes to make our working environment so agreeable. Thank you all for your friendship, your determination to get things done, and for your good humour and healthy scepticism – you’ve made going to work here worthwhile.
MALLINSON RENDEL’S 20TH BIRTHDAY
Publishers Mallinson Rendel hosted a party at Turnbull House on the evening of 22 August 2000 to celebrate their twenty years in the field of publishing. Appropriately for a firm that has concentrated on publishing children’s books of high quality, and which has a stable of talented writers and illustrators, the evening included the launching of their two latest children’s books – Lynley Dodd’s Hedgehog howdedo for young children, and Bob Kerr’s Between the wars for slightly older children (and their parents).
Ann Mallinson welcomed the guests, speaking highly of her staff and of the authors and illustrators with whom she has been associated. She then introduced David Hill (a Mallinson Rendel author) to launch the new publications. David commended both author / illustrators for the excellence of their entertaining books and also spoke warmly about Ann and her staff, stressing how much he and others had enjoyed working with them. Lynley (looking elegant in black velvet) responded briefly, then presented Ann with a decorative scroll she had designed and which was signed by Mallinson Rendel authors and illustrators. Bob Kerr was encouraged to speak too and he and David entered into an amusing interchange. Bob also paid tribute to Ann and her staff, thanking them for their encouragement and critical assistance. As an added treat Jackie Clarke gave a spirited rendition of the Hairy Maclary song, the encouraged guests to join in a repeat performance.
It was a very convivial evening with good wine and food to be enjoyed and time for chat and nostalgic reminiscing. Ann’s sister from England and her mother were present. The only sad note was that Ann’s husband, David Rendel, was not well enough to attend.
At Unity Books on 16 November Wellington poets read their work from Big weather: poems of Wellington, selected by Gregory O’Brien and Louise White, a book that has been published as a celebration of Mallinson Rendel’s twentieth anniversary as publishers in Wellington. The Mayor, Mark Blumsky, launched the book.