October 24, 2011

Staff Focus-Customer Service Co-ordinator

This month we focus on......

This month's Bennett Blurb newsletter focuses on customer service. Whether you are a public, academic, specialist or government library, James Bennett is renowned for our superb customer service in the library supply chain. We have the service - and the experience - you need to provide your own patrons, colleagues and staff with a successful and popular library service.

This month we're introducing you to Claire McManaway. She answered some general questions in the Bennett Blurb but she also allowed us to do our own profile of her, here in The Bennett Blog. How did she get to where she is now? What makes her tick? Read on and discover for yourself.

Name: Claire McManaway
Position: Customer Co-ordinator (Academic)

When did you start at James Bennett? A few years ago...about 11-12 years!
What were your previous roles (here or elsewhere)? Inbooks Customer Service, Data entry (Order Services), Operations, Binner in the Warehouse. I was about 15kg lighter - all that walking helped!
Describe your job: Answering to the needs of all our wonderful customers. We are here to help!
What do you enjoy most about your job?Completing that email. Finishing things off and getting a result. It’s great when you get a reply back thanking you for your efforts. We are stars and angels with a couple of awesomes in between .
Describe James Bennett in five words? OMG, we are the best!
What would you like customers to know about the work you do? That we are reliable as individuals and as a team. Finding those hard titles that you know are out there somewhere - it’s just putting your finger on it and hopefully being able to purchase it on behalf of the customer. We do source far and wide and are always looking for the best possible price. Getting results is always great. And things do take time…
What are the challenges you are facing? Keeping up with Claims!
What gets you excited about your day? Coming to work at James Bennett is great, we have a great location, friendly staff. We do have lovely customers from all walks of life, most of them I have never meet, but when we speak to them on the phone or via email it like I have known them for years. Most of my customers are listed on my phone so I know when you ring…
What books do you like to read? Suspense and action.
Do you have a favourite author? Robert Ludlum.
Last book you read? The Help.
Currently reading? The Most Wanted Man.
On the wishlist? (Keeping in mind this was a book question.....) That the All Blacks win the Rugby World Cup 2011

(Well, Claire, they did - by a point!)

We hope you enjoyed reading about Claire and what it's like to work behind the scenes in Customer Service. What staff member would you like to see a Focus On here on the Bennett Blog or in our newsletter service? Contact Marketing and we'll see what we can do!

Your Library Vendor of Choice in the Australasian marketplace 

BOOK REVIEW: ANZACS on the Western Front: The War Memorial Battlefield Guide


This month's guest reviewer is Chris Epple, our Customer Co-ordinator, Academic. Chris recently joined our Customer Service department and we are delighted he was so interested in this forthcoming Australian book from Wiley.  Here is his review of ANZACs on the Western Front: The War Memorial Battlefield Guide written by Peter Pedersen with Chris Roberts:

A quick search for Western Front battlefield guidebooks produces a very short list of mostly out of date titles. In a time when battlefields tourism is on an increase and more and more people are becoming interested in visiting the Australian and New Zealand battlefields of Gallipoli and France this book is a well timed introduction to the travel guide market. Even more so when you realise the 100th anniversary of the Great War is less than three years away!

Peter Pedersen has produced a thoroughly well researched guide to the battlefields of the Western Front from the ANZACS 1916 baptism of fire at Bois Grenier/ Fleurbaix to the final campaigns of 1918 and all the battles in between. The guide covers the battles of Fromelles, the Somme, Pozieres, Mouquet Farm, Bullecourt, Ypres, Messines, Menin Road, Polygon Wood, Passchendaele, Villers-Bretonneux, and many many more.

Pedersen describes each battlefield in intricate detail using pictures taken at the time of each battle, maps, present day photographs, and by pointing out current landmarks in the landscape. These are all used to good effect so that you can orientate yourself on the battlefield to get a glimpse of how each battle unfolded. You can really get a sense of how the battlefields must have looked like to the ANZACS.

He introduces each battlefield by chapter, outlines the conflicts with a narrative of the events of that particular confrontation to place the battle within the wider strategic theatre of operation in the war. Then goes on to describe the key moments of the battle, who won or lost ground, and the Australian and New Zealand units involved at each point as the battle ebbed and flowed. The reader is then instructed on how best to drive and walk each battlefield. The reader is taken through the battlefield and explains the layout of the battle on the present day landscape, pointing out where opposing lines and trenches were and the objectives of the attacks. You then follow the attacks and counterattacks as each battle progresses over the countryside.

The number of cemeteries located at each battlefield makes the brutality and horror of war clear. The guidebook includes every ANZAC cemetery and memorial on the Western Front, which should not be overlooked, as they are the lasting testament to so many lives lost.

As Pederson notes in the introduction “this guide cannot fully bring their words alive. You have to breathe life into them by putting your imagination to work. You will then gain some understanding of what it must have been like to be there and to appreciate the battlefields as places where ordinary men achieved great things.”

ANZACS on the Western Front is not just a guidebook, but a rare mix of a history book and travel guide that documents the battles of the ANZAC soldiers and given the reader a blow by blow account of how each encounter unfolded. For anyone wanting to visit the Western Front this is a must have. Touring the battlefields with Peter Pedersen’s assistance will allow you to gain a greater appreciation of the shocking events of WW1, as if you had your own personal guide travelling with you.

ISBN 9781742169811 | November 2011 | Paperback | 600 pages | AU$49.95
Competitive library discounts apply

October 3, 2011

Alex Miller and how he came to write Autumn Laing

My first encounter with the work of Sidney Nolan was when I was a boy working on an Exmoor farm. An Australian gave me a book on the outback. The book was illustrated with black and white photographs of a vast silent land that was mysterious to me and which compelled my imagination. Although I didn’t know it at the time the haunting photographs in the book were the work of the Australian artist Sidney Nolan. I came to Australia on my own at the age of 16 in search of Sidney Nolan’s outback. It was the most important decision I have ever made. I still revisit Central and North Queensland and have many friends there. That strange and beautiful country photographed with the imagination of Nolan has been a deep and lasting influence on my life as a writer.
My second (recorded) encounter with the work of Nolan was in 1961 when Thames and Hudson published in London the first major monograph on the Australian artist’s work. Though I had very little money at the time – I was earning a living in Melbourne cleaning cars while studying at night for my university entrance exams – I thought this expensive book so important that I bought a copy and sent it to my father as a Christmas present. Nolan’s art, it seemed to me, would reveal to my father more about Australia than my letters ever could. It was through my father’s encouragement that I had first developed what proved to be a lifelong interest in art. He wanted me to be an artist. I did the next best thing and became a writer.
When my first novel, The Tivington Nott (Robert Hale 1989) was distributed in Australia Sidney Nolan’s old friend the poet Barrett Reid wrote to tell me he thought highly of the book and that he wished to meet me. Barrie, as his friends knew him, lived at Heide, the home of the Reeds, where Nolan’s art had found its first and most important champion in Sunday Reed. When I told Barrie about the inspiration of the book given me by the Australian in Somerset all those years ago it was he who told me it was Nolan’s photos I’d been looking at. On more than one occasion during the years of our friendship Barrie suggested to me that I write a novel based on Nolan’s life. Barrie revealed Nolan’s art to me in a way I could not have done for myself and he educated me about its sources and the life of art Nolan had lived at Heide. Barrie remained a dedicated friend and champion of Sunday Reed to the end of his life.
In Autumn Laing, the resident poet laureate of the group of artists whose work is favoured at Old Farm is Barnaby. Like Barrie, Barnaby was born and raised on a cattle station in the Central Highlands of Queensland. Barnaby is my private homage to a dear friend who is no longer with us. The connection of Nolan and the Queensland cattle station that I made through my friendship with Barrett Reid was a compelling one that was rich in those emotions that make us feel as if we not only belong to a certain place but that we are in some sense fated to belong to it. Sooner or later I knew I would attempt to write about Nolan. What I wrote was not, however, what I expected to write. Novels are a kind of dream for the novelist. Although they are based on reality the writer is not in control and must follow the compelling prompts of imagination. For me it has never been possible to plot or plan a novel beyond a few very basic elements. The story reveals itself to me as I proceed with a book and is nearly always a surprise. This book, Autumn Laing, was no exception.
I first wrote what is now chapter two, Autumn’s portrait of the artist’s first wife, Edith. After writing this chapter I had to leave it while I spent a month on tour in the UK with my previous novel Lovesong. At the end of the tour (the end of September 2010) I was sitting on a bench in Holland Park watching squirrels and remembering my boyhood in London’s parks when the idea for the present form of the book suddenly occurred to me. I hadn’t given the book a thought for a month. As I was sitting there that lovely September afternoon watching the squirrels diving about the place I suddenly heard the voice of Autumn Laing, ‘They are all dead,’ she said, ‘and I am old and skeleton-gaunt . . .’ It was a realisation. The realisation that the character I had originally based on Sunday Reed, Nolan’s muse and lover and his greatest supporter during his early years, might have lived on until the age of 86, alone, deserted, betrayed. This woman was no longer the Sunday Reed of history but was my own fiction, a fiction of how such a person might have become had she lived another ten years and had she decided to tell her story, telling it at a time of her life when she had nothing left to lose.
When I got home to Castlemaine from London in early October I wrote for ten hours a day six days a week for five months in the voice that I had heard in Holland Park – the voice of Autumn Laing. It is the longest novel I’ve ever written and the quickest. I loved every minute of it and was sorry when she finally left me. I don’t think I will ever find anyone like her again. She is confident, well informed, passionate, cultivated and very down to earth. She is, in some ways, the personification of a cultivated Australian woman. She couldn’t possibly be English or French. Her commitment was always to Australia and to our art. She was never tempted to live in England or Europe. In her person my own early life as a stockman in North Queensland is connected to my life as a writer in Melbourne, just as these aspects of my own life were connected for me by my friendship with Barrie Reid, a faithful friend of Sunday Reed until the end, and a faithful admirer and interpreter of the art of his old friend Nolan. It is the experience of the artist and of Autumn in this book while they are visiting Barnaby’s parents’ cattle station in North Queensland that changes them both forever.
Autumn Laing
Alex Miller
Allen & Unwin
ISBN 9781742378510 | Hardcover | 456 pages | ARP $39.99

Order your copies from James Bennett today!