“The Library makes a big difference to me” – Tania’s Story

I’m Tania and I’m a NSW woman. I’ve lived in South Africa with my ex-husband for a number of years. We came to Queensland in 1981 when the situation in South Africa got very bad. The non-white population wanted voting rights; they weren’t counted as people at that time. So, when there was an election, it got to the stage where terrorists were lobbing hand grenades into children crèches. We had a young son and we wouldn’t forgive ourselves if we stayed there. So we had everything ready and a return ticket so that no one would think that we were leaving. We almost couldn’t drive to the airport to catch the plane as they were throwing rocks at the cars all the way, it was very dangerous!

My husband, who was an engineer from Portugal, went to where the big jobs were, like the coal mines and infrastructure projects in central Queensland. So we moved quite a few times in those years, between Clermont, Mackay and other towns. And that’s when my daughter arrived.

Streetscape, Mackay. John Oxley Library. Neg: 244735

Once in Brisbane my husband flew in and flew out while I looked after my children until they were a little bit bigger, and then I went to work here.

The first time I came to the library was just over 20 years ago, because my children were State High students, and weekends were always State Library time, for the homework!

We  also used to get to libraries like UQ library, when there were the open weekends, so I marched my kids in saying ‘this is where you are coming!’.

Then I went back to university at night time, while working for the State Government, and I used to get the bus out to the university or to the library.  With the extra qualification I got a job at the University of Queensland.

I retired 5 years ago and now I come to SL two or three times a week. I feel like I own it! It’s like home; it’s really easy to fit in. You can go to any library, but this is a particularly beautiful one. I can sit in the corner out there and I can see the river and the cars driving through. It’s beautiful, it’s quiet. Young students don’t bother me too much. It’s great for them. They are busy, they are getting things done, they are getting to know other students, I think it’s really good; it’s all part of the ambiance of the place.

When I’m here most of the times I’m doing work for someone else, helping them with the taxes and stuff like that. But I also looked at my ancestors, to find information about my father, who died at 63 and I wasn’t in contact with. Another time I searched the war records to help a woman in the USA who was writing a book. She needed information about a particular soldier.

The library makes a big difference to me: staff here are very friendly and I meet people that I wouldn’t ever meet otherwise.

 

As told to Fed Pani

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