Great minds read alike

Bini getting the badge has gone global.

Bini Szacsvay and husband Chris Cheng share an enduring passion for books. Bini is teacher librarian at Our Lady of Peace Gladesville, and she recently celebrated more than 30 years membership of the IEU.

Chris, her extended family and even the members of the International Society of Children’s Authors ( celebrated this achievement with her.

Chris is chair of the society and he said its members are big supporters of the union movement.

“Bini getting the badge has gone global,” Chris said.

Bini and Chris met at teacher training college, then went in different but complementary directions.

Bini became a primary school teacher and IEU Rep for many years. Chris has been writing books for children for 25 years. His latest, New Year’s Surprise! about the Chinese New Year, is due out soon.

While not trained as a librarian, Bini’s passion for books and all things library related, was noticed by her current principal, who suggested she take a library position 10 years ago.

“I’m part time teaching, part time library,” Bini said.

“I’m passionate about books, information, research, technology – the whole gamut of things necessary in libraries.

“There have been big changes in the 10 years and they keep happening. I’m doing coding next year.

“The needs of students have changed and there’s a risk we lose focus on books. Some days we just look at books and if it’s a good book we can look at it for a whole term.”

Bini teaches children how to use the internet properly, how to obey copyright rules, citing and using multiple resources and cyber safety. She also curates the ebooks at the school, but while all the technology is great, a picture book is still magical for primary children.

“Ebooks don’t really work for this age group. Some will read a digital book but they still ask for the hard copy. You can’t curl up with an ebook.”

Bini selects all her own books for the library, not relying on ‘standing orders’. Chris’s knowledge as a book reviewer and author is a great help, but Bini is an avid reader.

“I go off to bookshops to do shopping. Any principal should understand this is necessary for a librarian.“It’s good being at a small school because I know all the children and what they have been borrowing.

“I can say ‘you should get three books today’ or ‘you should just get this one book’.”

Bini said her current school has high Union membership and she doesn’t feel the need to advocate strongly for the Union, but she is glad receiving the badge sets an example.

“It’s great for younger teachers to see this.”

Sue Osborne