August’s 250-word opinion piece


Should We Borrow or Hire a Novel?

[Redacted]Public Library should cease charging for “borrowing” Adult Popular Fiction (including paperbacks), of $2.00 for up to three weeks. Currently, each book—if constantly on loan for its maximum time allowed—will bring in $104 in its “shelf life” of three years. Multiply that by the number of books in this section!

This is tantamount to changing the function of public libraries from service to income generator. Adults should not have to pay for hiring a fictional novel.

From the RDC Annual Reports for the financial year 2014-5, the District Library failed to reach its performance target measures in all three parts.

  1. The percentage of the population being members of the library for 2014-5 was 59% (target was 60%) a drop of 0.6% against the 2013-4 year
  2. The percentage of households using the library during 2014-5 was 68% (target was 75%), equal to 2013-4; but below 2011-2 and 2012-3
  3. The percentage of residents ‘Very Satisfied’ or ‘Fairly Satisfied’ with the library was 84% (target was 84%)
  4. Another 16% answered ‘Don’t Know’ (does that mean ‘Don’t use it’?). 2014-5 was the same as 2013-4.

I asked our Library five questions to gather statistics, but received no response. Reluctance? Something to hide?
I now use our library when I want nonfiction, as I refuse to pay a fee for what should be a public service. Perhaps a city-wide boycott of Adult Fiction would force a rethink—maybe a change.


The Brief:

Write 200-250 words expressing your opinion about a topic of your choice.                             Have you persuaded your reader to your point of view or call for action?


Appendix: Not as part of the homework writing…
Before writing this, I had been advised that Adult Fiction was $3 for 3 weeks, with “Hot Picks” rented out at $5. This appalled me (hence I cancelled my membership).

Since removing into temporary premises, (and after writing the above) I’ve been advised Adult Fiction is now free to borrow, with “Hot Picks and DVDs hired out at $3, and Magazines hired out at a fee ranging from) 0.50c to $3 (depending on how long ago the magazine was added to the shelf).

See  actual statistics drawn from the [Redacted] District Council Annual Report 2014-2015
page 37

Level of service
Performance measure
Target for 2014/15
Achievement
Comments
Achievement for 2013/14
Library readily accessible to residents and visitors for the purpose of information gathering, education and recreation.
60% of the population are members of the library
60%
59%
Target substantially achieved. …
59.6%
75% of households which have used the library in the last 12 months.*
75%
68%
Same result as the previous financial year, but still at levels below the 2011/12 and 2012/13 financial years. …
68%
85% of residents are very/fairly satisfied with the level of service.
85%
84%
Target substantially achieved with 16% responding with “Don’t Know”.
Of those responding to the survey who had used the library in the last 12 months,97% were satisfied with the service.
81%

0

Off the Page July’s homework


“I need to go now.” She reached across the sofa for her handbag, fumbling to grab its straps.

“Now? You’ve twenty minutes before the bus comes.” The tea towel in his hands twisted in a knot, his hands winding and unwinding it. “Can you wait?”

Looking through the pouches of the bag, checking without seeing its contents, her side vision caught them both reflected in the mirror. She couldn’t look—at it, or at him. “It’s a nice morning. I’ll walk to the next stop.”

“About last night. I want…“ He turned away, threw the tea towel into the kitchen. Head down, he rummaged in the baggy pockets of his old cargo pants—a cigarette packet. He drew out a half-smoked fag and the lighter.

“Don’t light up inside.” He wouldn’t, but it was something to say. She groped through her bag, as she groped through her mind for the words needed. Nothing came.

From opposite sides of the room—the space between empty with its minimalistic décor, as empty as each felt—they faced each other, not looking.

“Let’s just pretend last night didn’t happen. It won’t happen again.”

She walked out, touching the new bruise on her eye.


The Brief:

Show a relationship between two characters using Subtext – what’s not said or told, what’s not in the lines, but between the lines.

Off the page – 200-word june homework


The brief: 200 word suspense…1st prsn, or 3rd restricted; no reveal
Suspense can be thought of as generated by the deliberate withholding of information from a reader through the strategic use of point of view.”  Spend some time writing a first person, or third-person restricted, narrative where you lead your reader on but refuse to divulge the full picture of what is actually going on.


The lights are off, inside the building and out in the car park. This place is so familiar I don’t need them. I tighten my grip on the handles of my bag, and feel to check I’ve left the desktop as clear after my rummaging as it’d been when I arrived.

One small chink of keys in my pocket is the only sound. My tread is silent as I cross the room. At the first door, as I place my hand on its handle I remember one hinge squeaks. I work a mouthful of spit, and dribble onto the one at waist height. 

The handle makes no sound, the hinge is silent. I slip through and make sure the door doesn’t ‘clunk’ as it’s forced closed by the fitting above. Across the linoleum floor I feel the cold through my socks. The outer door opens without a sound. I slip my feet into my shoes waiting at the door sill. I get the keys from my right pocket, and lock the door again.

It’s cold, a frost. The night’s black, stars a bright contrast. Cold air stings my lungs, drowns the traffic noise. No-one will know. A sound alarm? Pff!

© Lynne McAnulty-Street, Rotorua NZ, 2016

Off the page – 200-word homework, May ’16


I chose this bach at the end of the beach road after watching for two nights and a day – no lights, no movement, no one living here. A perfect hiding place, its porch faced the headland away from neighbouring baches – just right for recuperation in seclusion from prying eyes. This first night, all I needed was sleep. I’d break the door lock in the morning, after the neighbour took his skiff out for fishing.

I sprawled on the floor. The cotton rug was too scratchy, so I slung it onto the narrow bench-seat. The wooden planks of the partially closed in verandah were cooler to lie on – soothing to aches, bruises, scratches and burns in the summer night’s heat. I started relaxing into sleep almost immediately.

A peculiar feeling, like an ever expanding cold tingle, stirred me wide awake. It crawled over me, my neck, shoulders, back… wrapping me in a creepy prickling sensation. I should have been alone, but I wasn’t. I listened through the blackness.

A snuffling noise. I rolled over and under the bench, pulling the rug back down over me. The click of nails on steps. Damn! The dog had followed me from the crash site!

That Sinking Feeling


I’d left my desk early, on the pretext of getting the tea room ready for morning break. I’d passed Julie, frantically typing up whatever garbled message her boss had left on his dictaphone. Marie was sorting invoices, matching them to statements of accounts payable and stapling them – with that furious “THUMP” on the stapler to let everyone know she hated this job. Noel was emptying his client’s suitcase of all the month’s business papers. No one looked at me as I passed.

I was clutching the envelope in one hand buried deep in my suit pocket. I’d not opened it yet. I wanted to be on my own, as I had that sinking feeling that goes through every employee in a business where there are rumors of layoffs.

I filled the Zip, pulled the cord. While it started to rumble, heating the water, I clattered the coffee cups and mugs into neat rows, emptied the humongous teapot and threw in the customary handful of tea-leaves. Sugar tin out of the cupboard, milk bottle out of the fridge, teaspoons clinked into a mug.

As the Zip screamed, I leaned against the bench and opened it.

Phew!  Only a pay-rise!

(C) Lynne McAnulty-Street, Rotorua NZ, Aug ’13