Library Connections Exhibition

Library Connections purple logo

Libraries play a vital role in connecting people and creating inclusive communities. We are celebrating members of our community who have been positively impacted by the inclusivity of Wagga  Wagga City Library.

Library Connections 2024

Hina graduated from Ayub Medical College Abbottabad, with a degree in Dentistry prior to moving to Australia with her husband in 2018.

Both Hina's children were born in Wagga Wagga Base Hospital. As a mother with two toddlers under five, she was looking for activities that would connect her with other families. She joined Wagga City Library and attended Storytime sessions, where all of them enjoyed reading books, borrowing board games, doing crafts, and spending quality time together.

Mother with mustard coloured hijab sitting with daughter in blue patterned dress on green blocks, with children's books on shelves in the background

As her children grew, Hina begun preparing for the Australian Dental Council (HDC) practitioner assessment to practice Dentistry in Australia.  Her mother and mother-in-law moved to Wagga to support her.

While Hina used the Level 1 study area for exam preparation, her children, accompanied by their grandmothers, enjoyed various children's activities and services.

During this time, her mother-in-law and mother explored the library collection. Her mother spent time browsing the art and craft zone, and her mother-in-law used her membership for borrowing Urdu books from the Community Languages collection and attending Language Café.

Hina attributes Wagga City Library to helping her feel welcome and making new friends. As a young mother connecting with others facing parenting challenges, she realised she wasn't alone. Sharing experiences, from teething to tantrums, provided relief, and the library community also contributed to improving her English skills.

Glass display case containing adult and child mannequins wearing hijab, snowscape artwork in the background, dentristry outfit and picture books in the foreground

Library Connections 2023

Iris and her family moved from China to Melbourne, Australia, and, seeking a peaceful country life, settled in Wagga Wagga in 2016. They found their way to Wagga Wagga City Library, where they discovered programs such as LEAP (Learn English through Art and Play) and Storytime. Through these programs, Iris and her daughters improved their English language skills, and were introduced to the resources and services available at the library. The library also provided books in Chinese, which helped them to keep in touch with their culture, language and gave them a sense of belonging.

Clear display case containing pink hanfu and red embroidered cusions


The beautiful pink outfit on the mannequin is a hanfu. It belongs to Iris's five-year-old daughter, Rebecca. It was given to Rebecca by her grandmother when she visited the family in Wagga Wagga. She wanted her grandchildren to know and respect their heritage. Last year, Rebecca wore her hanfu to school for Book Week, where she dressed as the warrior Mulan, a character from the Disney animated film Mulan, which was inspired by a Chinese legend about a woman who took her aged father’s place for conscription in the army. Rebecca enjoyed sharing her Chinese culture with her friends at school.

Cushion Covers:

The handmade embroidery and ribbon work cushion covers are significant to Iris as they remind her of her motherland and her loved ones. They were given to her by her aunt when Iris left China. The colours gold and red are symbols of luck and warmth in China. Iris uses these cushions each Chinese New Year to decorate her house. The characters in the centre represent Prosperity, Wealth, and Preciousness. They are considered symbols of luck in the Chinese language.

Bianca is a proud member of the LGBTQIA+ community in Wagga Wagga. She has always wanted to make a positive impact in the world, especially for the youth in her community.

In 2020, Bianca founded Alphabet Soup, a peer support group for queer-identifying teenagers, with the aim of providing safe places and safe spaces. Bianca worked with Wagga Wagga City Council’s Youth Officer Alexandra Osgood to introduce “You Are Proudly Welcome Here” signage to Wagga’s cultural facilities including the Wagga Wagga City Library.  She also brought the "Wear It Purple Disco" to Wagga as part of Australia's LGBTQIA+ awareness campaign for young people in August 2021 which was featured in The Guardian Australia. Her efforts earned her a Wagga Wagga Australia Day Young Citizen of the Year nomination in 2023.

Recently, Bianca represented Wagga Wagga at the Sydney World Pride 2023 Human Rights Conference as a regional youth delegate.

Growing up, Bianca always loved reading, which she attributes to her (Librarian) Mum. She naturally gravitated to the public library not only for the books she found, but also as a safe space where she could unwind and connect with her friends. Alphabet Soup have participated in Zine workshops facilitated by Wagga Wagga City Library.

Bianca believes the library's queer collection, including fiction and non-fiction materials, is engaging and thought-provoking. It can raise awareness of the experiences and perspectives of the queer community as well as help educate the community about important issues such as gender-inclusive language.

Bianca hopes the Wagga queer community's close relationship with Wagga Wagga City Library has a lasting impact and contributes to a more inclusive and accepting community.

Girl in colourful outfit marching in Pride parade, display case exhibiting outfit and associated newspaper articles

On display:

  1. Outfit Bianca wore on Wagga Mardi Gras, 2022
  2. Copy of Daily Advertiser Monday, March 14th, 2022, featuring Bianca's photo on the front-page attending Wagga Mardi Gras, 2022
  3. Bianca and Christine Bolton (Wagga Wagga City Library Manager) holding "You Are Proudly Welcome Here" signage
  4. Bianca's top pick for queer fiction and graphic novels from the library collection, Heartstopper by Alice Oseman and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by  Taylor Jenkins Reid.

Kim, from Vietnam, and Bernie, from Australia, married in September 2011 in Kim's hometown of Quang Ngai, Vietnam. Following their wedding, they moved to Bernie's hometown, Wagga Wagga where he works as a teacher.

Kim’s family worried about her moving to a foreign country however Kim found Wagga a welcoming community and great place to live and raise her four sons with her husband Bernie .

Kim is a qualified (and talented) pastry chef with experience working in international hotels in Vietnam and attended training pastry courses in Jordan. She struggled to find Vietnamese ingredients at first which was the thing she missed the most about home. As Wagga Wagga’s community became more diverse these ingredients became more readily available.

Since moving to Wagga Wagga, Kim worked for a local artisan bakery. After a few years, she started her own pastry business specialising in one-of-a-kind wedding cakes, birthday cakes, cookies, and pastries.

The Chocolate Lava Cake recipe on display is one of Kim's all-time favourite recipes and she is excited to share it with the community. Copies of the recipe are available on the book display. Feel free to take one and try it out for yourself.

A clear display case showing two traditional Vietnamese wedding costumes, one red and one gold and traditional Vietnamese wooden clogs

On display:

(Áo dài) : The traditional Vietnamese costumes that Kim and Bernie wore on their wedding day. The couple wore them on the morning of their wedding and then changed into Western wedding attire later in the day.

To ensure a perfect fit, Bernie, his groomsmen, and bridesmaids sent their measurements from Wagga Wagga to Saigon where the wedding Áo dài were tailored by a skilled artisan. Kim's gown an elegant fire red and symbolizes luck. Kim also personalised her gown decorating it herself. Bernie's Áo dài is gold with a striking dragon pattern considered to bring strength and good fortune in Vietnamese culture.

(Guốc Mộc):  the Vietnamese wooden clogs or sandals, were ideal for the Vietnamese climate and lifestyle. People used to wear them while working in wet environments like rice fields and other bodies of water. Nowadays, they are only worn during festivals and ceremonies to honour the country's cultural heritage.

Kim has several go-to cooking books that inspire her beautiful culinary creations. These titles include:

  • Zumbo by Adriano Zumbo
  • The Dessert Game by Reynold Poernomo
  • Baking: Cakes, Cookies, and Everything in Between by Donna Hay
  • Wafer Paper Cakes: Modern Cake Designs &Techniques for Wafer Paper Flowers by Stevi Modern

Kim also recommends:

  • The Little Viet Kitchen by Thuy Diem Pham

which features over 100 delicious authentic Vietnamese recipes for those interested in Vietnamese cuisine. Finally, Kim recommends any cookery book by Nigella Lawson as a must-read for anyone who loves cooking and baking.

The listed titles can be borrowed from the display or reserved.

Gabrielle Tozer is an award-winning author, writer, and editor. She grew up in Wagga Wagga and her relationship with the Wagga City Library has been a lifelong love. Her library journey began as a young girl when she became a member and fostered her love for reading.

She treasures happy memories of visiting the library with her parents, borrowing books and comics every week, which sparked her passion for writing. Gabrielle’s ties to the library remained strong through her teenage years and she participated in many creative writing workshops.

At 18, Gabrielle left Wagga to pursue a journalism and creative writing degree at the University of Canberra. She started her successful media career at magazines like Dolly, Cosmopolitan and Disney Adventures.

These experiences helped her develop her natural writing style for young adult and children’s books. Her debut novel, The Intern, was released in 2014 and earned her the prestigious State Library of Victoria’s Gold Inky Award.

Since then, she has continued to publish titles in the youth fiction genre, like Remind Me How This Ends and Can’t Say It Went To Plan, delving into subjects such as coming of age, mental health, friendship and grief. However, the humour woven through the novels make reading them enjoyable, thought-provoking, and attractive for her audiences.

In 2019, Gabrielle, her husband and two daughters relocated from Sydney back to Wagga. This move was driven by a desire for a family home and proximity to grandparents, offering the change of pace they sought.

She is pleased that her daughters share her love for reading and books. Despite the library’s physical changes since her childhood, she and her girls adore visiting the library together, creating a beautiful sense of continuity.

Large glass display case showing newspaper pleated dress on a mannequin, teapot and saucer, Peas and Quiet picture book and cushion cover

Gabrielle’s works are listed below and displayed next to the exhibition. Feel free to borrow or reserve them to experience her beautiful works.

  1. The Intern - Youth Fiction - 2014
  2. Faking It - Youth Fiction – 2015
  3. Peas and Quiet - Junior Picture Book -2017
  4. Remind Me How This Ends - Youth Fiction – 2017
  5. Melody Trumpet - Junior Fiction – 2019
  6. Begin, End, Begin: a #loveozya anthology - Short Stories Collection – 2019
  7. Editor: Ash Dust Air: Young writers from southern NSW respond to these unprecedented times - Anthology – 2020
  8. Can’t Say It Went To Plan – 2021
  9. Contribution: Teacher, Teacher: An Anthology About Inspirational Educators – 2023

The exhibition also displays a cushion designed with the cover page of "Peas and Quiet," picture book by Gabrielle Tozer, and an outfit made of recycled newspaper, created by Beth Harrison.