News from The Arthur Holt Library

Monday 8 March was International Women’s Day. Of course, the day is primarily a chance to celebrate how far women have come, both in terms of their rights and freedoms and their subsequent achievements in all areas of society, politics and the arts. But the day is also an opportunity to take note of where improvements can still be made and where injustice and inequality still prevail.

Our series of library displays built a very real sense of women’s achievements. Books on or by Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Greta Thunberg, Virginia Woolf, Helen Garner and Jacinda Ardern reminded the boys how every sector of society has benefitted from the emancipation of women.

As the home of the student-led co-curricular Film Club, we also dedicated a wall to posters of films made by female directors, from Kathryn Bigelow’s ‘Point Break’ to Jane Campion’s ‘The Piano’ and the recent documentary ‘13’ by Ava Duverney.

We even pulled some borrowing statistics and very proudly displayed the fact that 52 per cent of the books borrowed from The Arthur Holt Library in February were written by female identifying authors. This follows on from the last two author events that we organised, with elite female athlete, Elysse Perry, and acclaimed writer of historical fiction, Lauren Chater.

However, this is perhaps one of those areas where more work could be done. A recent article in ‘The Washington Post’ by children’s author Shannon Hale warned of the dangers of assuming that boys don’t like to read books by or about women. It’s an assumption that’s as likely to be made by people who recommend books as by the boys themselves. She points out what an important tool in building empathy and understanding books can be and how vital these qualities are.

So, since the motto of this year’s International Women’s Day is #Choosetochallenge, our resolution is to make sure that our boys understand that just because a book is about women, doesn’t mean that it’s a book for women.

Stefanie Gaspari | Director of Library Services

“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

– Neil Gaiman


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