Joy Cow­ley opens new li­brary

The Tribune (NZ) - - NEWS - PAUL MITCHELL

‘‘It was se­date, Vic­to­rian, and dark, but it was full of the de­li­cious smell of books.’’

That was the fond rec­ol­lec­tion pop­u­lar chil­dren’s au­thor Joy Cow­ley had of the Palmer­ston North Girls’ High li­brary where she used to spent her lunch hours.

‘‘Now it’s lovely and full of light to read in, which is very im­por­tant for a li­brary. Es­pe­cially at my age.’’

Girls’ High marked the of­fi­cial open­ing of its new li­brary with a day of writ­ing work­shops with its fa­mous for­mer stu­dent. Joy cred­ited her ex­pe­ri­ences at the school and in the old li­brary, with help­ing set her even­tual ca­reer course as an au­thor.

‘‘Girls’ High was very un­usual for my era. In many schools girls were en­cour­aged into do­mes­tic roles. Girls here were taught there was more to life than that ... by teach­ers who re­spected stu­dents as in­di­vid­u­als.’’

Be­fore the of­fi­cial open­ing of the new li­brary, the au­thor held three writ­ing work­shops along with a Q&A ses­sion for the stu­dents, and was im­pressed by the en­thu­si­asm and en­gage­ment of the young writ­ers.

‘‘They were open to ask­ing ques­tions and talk­ing about their ex­pe­ri­ence as writ­ers. It shows they’ve come to quite an ad­vanced stage of un­der­stand­ing them­selves as au­thors.’’

The school has an an­nual Joy Cow­ley Short Story Award for se­nior stu­dents.

Joy is listed on the Cre­ative Gi­ants of Palmer­ston North web­site, where it says her first af­ter-school job as a 16-year-old was edit­ing the chil­dren’s page of for­mer Palmer­ston North news­pa­per the Manawatu Daily Times.

The multi-award win­ning au­thor was awarded an OBE in 1992 for her ser­vices to chil­dren’s lit­er­a­ture, and in 2005 was made a Dis­tin­guished Com­pan­ion of the New Zealand or­der of Merit (DCNZM).

New Girls’ High prin­ci­pal Karene Biggs says Joy re­ally con­nected with the stu­dents, and it was a priv­i­lege to have a Girls’ High ‘old girl’ who’d done well, com­ing back to visit.

In ac­tion for al­most a term fol­low­ing six months of ren­o­va­tions, the new li­brary’s of­fi­cial open­ing was held off to Mon­day so Joy could at­tend.

PHOTO: WAR­WICK SMITH/FAIRFAX NZ

Palmer­ston North Girls’ High ‘old girl’ and spe­cial guest, au­thor Joy Cow­ley talks with stu­dents, from left; Lucy San­son, Ge­or­gia Wheeler, Joy Cow­ley and Pe­tra Green at the of­fi­cial open­ing of the school’s new li­brary on Mon­day.

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