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24MWWhatACharacter

This month, assistant librarian Madeleine Slavick of Wairarapa Library Service talks with Glenys Hansen, who coordinates one of the three monthly book clubs – all of which meet on a Wednesday. Glenys also plays Scrabble at Martinborough library every other week.

Glenys Hansen tells me she has five loves: Church [“I am a self-supporting priest, leading a service on the third Sunday of the month”], vineyards [“I worked with vineyards for more than 20 years”], books [“about 80 books are on reserve for me from Wairarapa Library Service”], family [“I have four adult children”] and cats [“I have three”]. Our conversation includes them all. Her earrings depict two.

I might add a sixth love for Glenys: Learning. When she started working at the vineyards in 1988, she knew very little about viticulture. She says she learned on the job – and by the time she retired in 2018, she had been managing or consulting with 35 vineyards.

These days, she is reading to learn more about the war between Israel and Palestine. Two recent books: Hamas Contained: The Rise and Pacification of Palestinian Resistance, and Kingdom of Olives and Ash: Writers Confront the Occupation. She also learns through meeting up weekly with people at the peace demonstrations at Martinborough Square.

“All these voices contribute to our knowledge,” Glenys says.

When Glenys discovers new books, she’ll check if the library has them in the catalogue. With the use of the Wairarapa Library Service app [www.wls.org.nz/bookapps], it’s also possible to scan a book’s ISBN number and it will automatically bring up any copies held by all the SMART libraries.

“Nineteen out of 20 books are available,” she says. “The library is brilliant. You got the system so right – maybe the library can run the government!”

Glenys runs the Morning Book Club at Martinborough Library – which runs from 10am to midday on the third Wednesday of each month. The club was set up years ago at the library’s former Kitchener St location, but had to stop with the pandemic. Branch librarian Ali Te Pohe asked if Glenys might start it up again.

“I was happy to do so. I love our club. We each read our own books, then talk about them with each other when we meet. Great fun, and a great way to learn. Anyone can come!”

When I ask about favourite books, Glenys is ready with her answer: Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants, by Robin Wall Kimmerer, Apeirognon, by Colum McCann, and Call of the Reed Warbler: A New Agriculture, A New Earth, by Charles Massy.

The Morning Book Club, through the Carterton Library, meets on the last Wednesday of the month, also at 10am – for information, contact [email protected].

The third book club meets online [via Zoom] on the first Wednesday of the month at 7pm. Members read the same book, borrowing library copies free of charge. Sign up via this link: https://wlseveningbookclub.substack.com/subscribe.

Erin Kavanagh-Hall
Erin Kavanagh-Hall
Erin Kavanagh-Hall is the editor of the Wairarapa Midweek. She has been a journalist for the past 10 years, and has a keen interest in arts, culture, social issues, and community justice.

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