city of literature

The Wheeler Centre

Already, I think this is going to be one of my most favourite places in the city and it hasn’t even opened yet. The Wheeler Centre (named after Tony and Maureen Wheeler of Lonely Planet) has been under development for the last two years ever since Melbourne was announced as the second City of Literature by UNESCO in 2008 (the first being Edinburgh).

The crux of the centre is to provide a melting pot of ‘books, writing and ideas’ and it is situated beside the State Library of Victoria (also a most lovely place). Everything literary is going to housed under the same roof such as the various writing organisations. What I am most excited about are the ongoing events that are to run from the centre. I think the events are innovative, fun and most importantly of all, allows people from all walks of life and background to enjoy, and be introduced to, quality literature and discover new writers as the majority of events are free.

The three month programme is out and I’ve already booked myself in for around six events, including the opening Story Telling Gala night and ‘In Conversation with Helen Garner’, and marked out many others that I want to go to. I’m most excited about the Lunchbox/Soapbox event with Kate Holden, who is one of my most favourite writers and columnists. The beauty of many of these events is that you can simply wander in and find yourself a place where your mind can be stimulated. With all the writing centres situated under one roof, debuting and established writers, artists, thinkers now have a centralised headquarter. Bibliophiles can also now indulge in literary delights throughout the year rather than the few major events.

(And no, I don’t work for the centre.)

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Melbourne – UNESCO’s City of Literature

As a proud Melburnian and bibliophile I just thought I should point out that the city has become only the second (after Edinburgh) to be named a City of Literature. I think it’s an incredible declaration and I was extremely pleased when it was announced back in August coinciding with the Melbourne Writer’s Festival. Books are never far away and they are never difficult to find in this city. It is not only the massive chain stores, where there are very few here, but also the smatterings of second-hand bookstores, independent bookstores, hole-in-the-wall stores, and book cafes. Libraries also feature strongly around the city too and where ever I have lived, I always managed to have a library very close by. I’m very lucky at the moment to be able to count on having four libraries close by, However, it’s not just reading. Writing is a ferocious past time among us too.

Although I’m not quite sure what this means for the city, and what will change, this is one city appointment that I actually care about and which is extremely inspiring. One thing I do hope, however, is that we don’t become all selective, fussy and ‘high class’ about books and what constitutes as literature (which is still debatable anyway). The most important thing about books is that people are able to enjoy a story and to escape into another world.

A photo (not a very good one unfortunately) of the State Library of Victoria at night.

State Library of Victoria

State Library of Victoria