Joy Cowley opens new library
‘‘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.
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.