Swap seeds at your library this spring – The Great Library Seed Swap

It’s nearly Spring (yay) and to celebrate the season of growing and greenery, we are hosting seed swaps.Bring in your leftover seeds to Lyttelton, Spreydon, South, Hornby or Akaroa Library and we’ll put them out to share.

Daisy

We welcome vegetable, herb, flower, native, and heritage seeds. You can bring any spare potted-up seedlings. Seeds can be dropped in anytime before or during seed swap week. If you’re bringing in seedlings, please drop them off at the beginning of the week.

The Great Lyttelton Library Seed Swap

Monday 4 September to Friday 8 September
Find out more.

The Great Spreydon Library Seed Swap

Saturday 9 September 10am to 1pm
Find out more.

The Great Hornby Library Seed Swap

Saturday 9 September 10am to 12pm and Monday 11 September 2pm to 5pm
Find out more.

The Great South Library Seed Swap

Saturday 9 September 10.30am to 1pm; Sunday 10 September 10.30am to 1pm
Find out more.

The Great Akaroa Library Seed Swap

Monday 11 September to Saturday 16 September
Find out more.

There ares plenty more green-fingered resources at your libraries. Take a look at our page about gardens and gardening and explore the books, magazines, and eMagazines in our collection.

Podcast – Making a difference

Speak Up Kōrerotia logoChristchurch City Libraries blog hosts a series of regular podcasts from specialist human rights radio show Speak up – Kōrerotia. This show is created by Sally Carlton.

What motivates people to ‘make a difference’ – and what actually do we mean by the phrase?
Guests Billy O’Steen (University of Canterbury), Sarah Campagnolo (Volunteering Canterbury and Gap Filler), Teoti Jardine (Volunteering Canterbury and Avon-Otakaro Network) and Jason Pemberton (Student Volunteer Army and Social Enterprise World Forum) debate this fascinating – and somewhat elusive – question, drawing on their huge expertise in the volunteering sector.

  • Part I: Defining ‘making a difference’ – Is it the same as volunteering? Activism? etc.
  • Part II: How can we measure ‘making a difference’? What are the shortfalls of relying on statistics? Ethnicity and volunteering
  • Part III: Demographics and volunteering; guests’ key learnings; encouragement for people to being ‘making a difference’

 

Transcript – Making a difference

Find out more in our collection

Cover of Doing good...says who? Cover of Doing good better Cover of The most good you can do Cover of The promise of a pencil Cover of Social change any time everywhere Cover of Good work and no pay Cover of Volunteer: A traveller's guide to making a difference around the world Cover of The red bicycle Cover of The Unofficial Official Handbook of Good Deeds

More about Speak up – Kōrerotia

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Goldilocks and the three book club books

The very best thing about belonging to a book group is the variety of new reads to which one is exposed. And if, like moi, you belong to not one but five book groups (two in Christchurch, one online, and with connections to two in South Africa as well), there will come a month when you encounter the bookish version of the Goldilocks Syndrome:

The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book ClubAs in This book was too soft: The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club. Books about book groups run the risk of being quite formulaic. Take a group of women, vary their life stories, get them to meet up about once a month and toss some favourite reads into the mix. This has been done before. So what does Sophie Green do to lift her book club book out of the ordinary? She sets it in the 1970s in the Northern Territory of Australia. All that this really means is that the reads are dated and the women have vast distances to travel to get to Fairvale for a  natter and a plate of buttery scones. Look, it’s sweet and it will have a bit of a following. But it was too soft for me.

The Ministry of Utmost HappinessThis book was too hard: It’s Arundhati Roy’s long-awaited The Ministry of Utmost Happiness. It’s been a long wait for a novel from Roy whose The God of Small Things was published in 1997 and is one of my favourite books of all time. Of course this latest offering is beautifully written. Of course I can hear, see and smell India. Of course there are fascinating characters. But it is so sad, so cruel, so political, so jumbled, so devoid of storyline. I put it down intending to return and never did. I am aware that this says more about me than it does about the book, but I was a receptive reader and I got lost. Moving on.

The Keeper of Lost ThingsThis book was just right: The Keeper of Lost Things is a first novel by Ruth Hogan. Anthony Peardew has spent half his life lovingly collecting lost objects. These lost objects and their possible return to their owners give this novel the structure that holds it together. And what beautifully descriptive writing it is too, with phrases like: “an unfolded paper-clip woman”; “an old-woman-shaped vessel of vitriol” and “the tinnitus of technology”. You will have worked out that the people are more lost than the things, but this is a hopeful book, one in which we are reminded how important it is just to be kind to one another.

The best thing about any book group is that you don’t have to love every book you read, but you do develop a vocabulary for talking about even those books that have not worked for you. I know in my bones that there will be readers who will react completely different to my Goldilocks choices. And to be honest, that’s what book groups are really all about. Over to you!

The joy of coding

At school in England in the early 1980s I was given the opportunity to join an afterschool computer club. The only problem was that, being the early 1980s, our school didn’t actually have a computer. We had to write our programs in thick, dark pencil on stacks of cards that were taken away to a mysterious place, which we never got to see, where they would be fed into a computer.

Our teacher would bring the output to class the following week (or the week after that if there had been a glitch, or someone else needed the computer that week) and we would pore over the results with eager anticipation. Usually we quickly realised that we had made a fundamental error, and set about re-writing our program before waiting another week (or two) to see how things turned out. It was a glacially slow process, but an almost magical one. I don’t think I ever knew where this semi-mythical computer was, or what it looked like, but I imagined a strange colossal machine the size of a small house, similar to those depicted in Cold War science fiction films such as War Games, which were popular at the time.

Obviously, things are very different now. We are living in the age of the so-called digital native (although this may be a myth), but arguably because computers are so advanced now, we actually have fewer opportunities to tinker under the hood than we did in the early days of home computing. Early computers often required their users to manually input programs (written in languages like BASIC) before you could run them. You could buy magazines full of code for various simple games that you could type into your computer and then run. You could even change the code to alter the parameters of the game. This meant that we learned much more about how computers worked, and how to get them to do what we wanted, than is usually the case these days.

Modern computers are much less amenable to this sort of tinkering. Messing about with the code on your computer is likely to lead to a catastrophic system failure, so although computers are now embedded in almost every aspect of our lives, we often have very little idea about what makes them tick.

The ubiquity of computers in society, coupled with the general ignorance of most people as to how they work, has been recognised as a serious problem. Recently, there has been a strong push among educators to get kids coding. Code clubs have sprung up all over the place, digital technology is set to become part of the New Zealand curriculum, and lots of books have been published aimed at getting kids coding, with varying degrees of success.

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Recently, my 9-year-old daughter and I read a series of three graphic novels called Secret Coders, which aim to teach coding through the medium of storytelling. These books centre around Hopper, a young girl who finds herself at a strange new school. Along with two new friends, Josh and Eni (many of the names in the book reference famous computers or computer scientists, such as Grace Hopper and ENIAC), Hopper falls into a series of adventures that require the gang to solve various puzzles to figure out what’s really going on at the school.

Many of these puzzles require them to program turtle-like robots to perform particular tasks. The puzzles get increasingly complex. As the reader is encouraged to solve these puzzles for themselves before reading on, almost without realising it, by the end of the first book we were writing programs in a computer language called Logo. There are also some owls living in the school who have a very unusual way of communicating in binary, which adds to the air of mystery. The story is genuinely captivating, and kept us turning the pages. The graphics are engaging, the characters are delightful, and the puzzles are intriguing.

At the end of each book there is a link to a website where you can download a version of the Logo programming language and use it to write your own programs to create computer graphics. We tried it, and within minutes we were making snowflakes and other images using what we had learned from the books. A world of warning though – computer code is very unforgiving and one small typing error can give unexpected results, or even stop a program from working at all, which can be frustrating for young children; nevertheless, the necessary concepts were well within the grasp of my 9-year-old daughter. There’s also a nice website with extra activities, and you can even download a file for 3D printing your own replica of one of the robots from the book.

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We had a lot of fun with these books, and I think we learned a lot too. Each volume follows directly on from the previous one, in a continuous narrative, usually beginning with the answer to a puzzle that was set at the end of the last book. We’ve read the first three books, and it seems that there will be more in the series. There are still lots of loose threads to tie up in the story, and there is clearly a lot more to learn about coding. We’ve looked at a few other coding books aimed at kids, but these were the ones that captured our imaginations the most, and it’s not just about learning a particular programming language, but understanding computational thinking – how to break a problem down into its smallest discrete units, each of which can be translated into a simple instruction to a computer, which is a skill that is likely to be applicable to other areas of modern life.

We’re really looking forward to reading the rest of the series. This feel like the start of what could be a long journey to understanding more and more about computers and coding. We intend to keep learning about this stuff, and if we find other useful library resources along the way we will tell you about them in future posts on this blog.

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In the meantime, if you’d like to know more, there is an excellent new biography of Grace Hopper, namesake of the protagonist in “The Secret Coders” books, aimed at a similar age group.

For younger children, My First Coding Book makes a wonderful introduction to computational thinking, with ingeniously creative use of flaps, pull-out tabs, and other devices that kids will be familiar with, to illustrate coding concepts with various games and puzzles…

More about coding

Persons Unknown by Susie Steiner

I’m an avid reader of thrillers. I read both ‘stand-alone’ novels but also the increasingly popular format of a primary character that features in a series of books.

I am particularly keen – once I have found a character I can empathise with – to read them all, but the main proviso has to be that I read them in the correct order! So, it was with some trepidation that I read “Persons Unknown” as it quickly became apparent that I wasn’t starting off with a new series – Missing, Presumed had already been published featuring the main character Manon Bradshaw.

Most of the time though, even if you start out of sequence it doesn’t really matter as authors have a tendency to hark back to previous cases or anecdotal information that brings you up-to-date on past relationships and any prior connections through historical cases.

CoverI had just started the first chapter when serendipity arrived in the guise of a library borrower wanting a reserve placed on the same book. The customer started telling me what a great book the first one had been and how she was looking forward to receiving/reading this next one. Well, you can’t get a higher recommendation than that! Actually, you can, as when I went to check out the first book Missing, Presumed I found every copy was out on loan!

Persons Unknown has a contemporary UK setting with several well-defined characters investigating a murder in Cambridgeshire which in turn leads back to the ‘wheeling and dealing’, bribery and corruption of high finance in London with its attendant pimps, high-class prostitutes and assorted recreational drugs adding inducements to major players in these corrupt dealings.

As if all of the above were not intricately woven into the complicated plot, Susie Steiner also manages to integrate a number of social issues via her main protagonist, Manon, a middle-aged woman who has adopted a pre-teen black kid but still wants to experience motherhood first-hand and meet, if not Mr Right, then at least Mr ‘I’m happy to be with you whatever the circumstances’.

Manon’s professional and personal life implode when both her adopted son, Fly and her sister, Ellie, are found to have known the murder victim and become police suspects themselves.

This is very much a character-driven novel – Manon’s personal and professional problems, hopes and fears resonate with the reader and you want her to succeed — not only in solving the case but also salvaging her precarious relationship with Fly, who is experiencing racial and institutional injustices and will no doubt be defined by these hugely negative experiences.

After such a riveting read I’m now going to go back to when it all began a few years earlier…

Persons Unknown
by Susie Steiner
Published by HarperCollins New Zealand
ISBN: 978-0-00-812334-5

Adult Learners’ Week – Celebrating the Value of Lifelong Learning

Lifelong learning is great for health, wellbeing and mental agility. Adult learners of all ages and backgrounds report benefits like better self-esteem, greater tolerance, confidence and career prospects.

Adult Learners’ Week/He Tangata Mātauranga runs 4-10 September and celebrates all adult learning whether it’s upskilling for a better job, preparing for further study, improving life skills or having fun. It is supported by the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO and incorporates International Literacy Day on September 8.

If you’ve ever been curious about our learning programmes for adults – sessions on learning how to use a new piece of technology, family history research, or polishing up your CV – Adult Learners’ Week is a great time to head along and try out what we have to offer.

Library events during Adult Learners’ Week

  • eResource Taster sessions, Central Library Peterborough –  Each session focuses on a different eResource. Learn about accessing/downloading digital newspapers (PressReader), eBooks (Overdrive), eAudiobooks (BorrowBox), and eMagazines (RBdigital Magazines) as well as tips for researching family history (Ancestry Library) or online language learning (Mango Languages)
  • Technology Help Drop-in Sessions, several libraries – Have a specific issue relating to a device or piece of technology? Drop-in and get some guidance.
  • ESOL Club, Te Hāpua: Halswell Centre – This club is for non-native speakers who would like to practice English in a relaxed, pressure free environment. Every week we will have a different themed topics to guide conversational practice.
  • Family History Help, Fendalton and Upper Riccarton Libraries – Looking for more help with your family history research? A volunteer from the New Zealand Society of Genealogists will be available to help you with your family history questions.
  • CV drop-in, New Brighton Library – A librarian will be on hand to assist customers who are needing help with their resume. We can offer guidance on creating, updating, and editing your CV.
  • Learner License Course, Aranui Library – This course, delivered by Literacy Christchurch, is designed to give you all the knowledge and confidence needed for best success at passing when sitting for your learners licence test. Laptops and devices will be available for use during the class times to sit practice tests and for researching questions.
  • How to organise and edit your digital photos, South Library – Learn how to organise your photographs and do some basic editing using online photo editing software. Please ensure that you bring your camera and USB download cables. Cost: $7. To make a booking please call 941 5140

Find out more about lifelong learning at the library on our Adult Learners’ Week page.

Behind the scenes at Matuku Takotako: Sumner Centre

The new library, community centre and museum Matuku Takotako: Sumner Centre opens tomorrow Saturday 19 August 2017. After the opening ceremony, Matuku Takotako: Sumner Centre will be open from 3pm to 4.30pm. You can explore this new facility, and borrow items from the library collection.

Today we had a look around this newest Ōtautahi community space just before it opens, and were totally wow-ed. We’re sure you will be too. Here are some of our highlights:

Art 

Artwork - Matuku Takotako: Sumner CentreMatuku Takotako: Sumner Centre

These artworks were designed by Fayne Robinson (Ngai Tahu), Christchurch and refer to the surrounding landscape, cultural narrative …
Information on the art in Matuku Takotako: Sumner Centre

Rubbing tiles

Take along a piece of paper and crayons or pencils – you can take rubbings off a series of rubbing tiles throughout the building.
Rubbing tile - Matuku Takotako: Sumner CentreRubbing tile - Matuku Takotako: Sumner Centre

Touchstone

A pakohe (argylite) touchstone carries the design of the landscape through the plinth and up onto the stone, which is also reflected in the mural, to ground it to its location.
Touchstone - Matuku Takotako: Sumner Centre

Fab fresh collection

There’s a lot of pretty new stuff on the pretty new shelves. Looks sharp!

Books on shelves - Matuku Takotako: Sumner CentreKids/Tamariki - Matuku Takotako: Sumner CentreBooks on shelves - Matuku Takotako: Sumner Centre

Old into New

Roll of honour
Roll of honour - Matuku Takotako: Sumner Centre

Masonry from the old building in the entrance.
Masonry from old building - Matuku Takotako: Sumner Centre

Indoor/outdoor flow

There are views galore, and an outdoor auditorium.
Outside auditorium - Matuku Takotako: Sumner Centre

Colours and stripes

Bus timetable

Enjoy a relaxing time at the library AND know when it is time to catch your bus.
Matuku Takotako: Sumner Centre

Unisex loos

Unisex toilet sign

View our pics of construction.

He’ll be back: The Terminator returns… again

Listen, and understand. That terminator is out there. It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.

This is how Michael Biehn’s Kyle Reese describes Arnold Schwarzenegger’s T-800 in the 1984 film The Terminator. He didn’t know how right he was. The Terminator just keeps coming back. The perfect pop culture metaphor for a franchise that can’t be killed.

In 1991 a sequel followed. At that time the $100 milion budget of Terminator 2: Judgment Day made it the most expensive film ever produced and it was a cinematic juggernaut (I did my bit by spending my pocket money to go and see it two weekends in a row).

And from there the Terminator just kept rising from the ashes (or still burning wreckage of crashed truck/plane/HK). A trilogy of novels set after the events of T2 follows Sarah and John Connor who have fled to South America.

A television series followed. Before Lena Headey was the ruthless Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones she was the equally determined Sarah Connor in the The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

There were a further three movie sequels (with varying degrees of coherence), the most recent being an alternate timeline Terminator: Genisys which brought back a lot of the attitude of the first film (but positively tied itself in time-travel knots).

Cover of Total recall: My unbelievably true life storyJames Cameron announced earlier this that he will produce the sixth installment of the Terminator franchise, with shooting due to start next year. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the 90s action star who never really went away, will reprise his role.

Last year to celebrate the 25th anniversary of T2 a 3D version was released and this will hit New Zealand screens briefly next week. I’d say get your tickets booked lest you miss out but… he’ll be back.

Curragh Cottage, Ferrymead Heritage Park, 3 April 2010: Picturing Canterbury

Curragh Cottage, Ferrymead Heritage Park, 3 April 2010. Kete Christchurch. Ferrymead_Heritage_Park__3_April_2010__IMG_7194. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License.

Curragh Cottage, Ferrymead Heritage Park.

Originally erected at 104 Holly Road and relocated to Ferrymead Heritage Park in 1972.

Photograph taken 3 April 2010.

Kete Christchurch is a collection of photographs and stories about Christchurch and Canterbury, past and present. Anyone can join and contribute.

Do you have any further photographs of Curragh Cottage? If so, feel free to contribute to our collection.

Hamilton aims for the sky

Hamilton The Revolution coverThere’s a song by the comedy band Tripod with a line that goes: “I always get into stuff/ Just as it’s finishing being cool...”, and embarrassingly this often applies to me. A couple of years ago I listened to the first song of the (Alexander) Hamilton musical and thought it was good, but it didn’t blow me away. I figured I’d try it again another time.

A few weeks ago I put it on as something to listen to while cleaning the house, and this time I stuck with it; halfway through listening to “Satisfied” I was a firm fan. I kept cleaning just so that I could finish the musical (which never happens, believe me). The house was spotless by the time the last refrains of “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story” faded out, and I may have cried a few times while folding the washing. How did a story about another country’s history affect me (and millions of others) so deeply?

For a start it’s incredibly well written; it’s a musical but it’s sung-through, so you can hear the entire story by listening to the cast recording. While many of the songs are incredibly catchy the story is what compels you to continue listening to Alexander Hamilton as he drags himself up from nothing to something; he’s not always likeable, but you have to admire his incredible work ethic, and he was clearly charismatic to many.

Articulate, intelligent leaders are always interesting to read about, and he surrounded himself with articulate, intelligent men and women, including my favourite character — his sister-in-law, Angelica Schuyler — who sings my favourite song. Hamilton isn’t a musical that shies away from shades of grey, portraying both Hamilton and his frenemy Aaron Burr as complex rivals with a fundamental difference in character. Lin-Manuel Miranda manages to pack all this complexity into two and a bit hours by using rapid-fire delivery and lyrics that seem throw-away on the surface but unpack to give multiple meanings and allusions to hip hop masters, Shakespeare, and historical events.

Cover of Washington: A Life, Ron ChernowThere is a lot more I could say on the topic, from how I love that it’s bringing verse back to stage performance as a great tool for compelling exposition, how it’s performing America then by America now with a diverse and talented cast, how I’ve managed to have seven different songs stuck in my head at once — and yes, if you listened to this back in 2015, you already know all this stuff. But for anyone else who’s heard about it but hasn’t quite gotten around to it yet, or who loved the Kate Shepard musical (That Bloody Woman) last year, borrow the Hamilton cast recording today and give it a listen. If nothing else you’ll get a clean house out of it.

If you do already like Hamilton, I recommend Ron Chernow‘s biographies for some extra insights into Hamilton and Washington. I’ve also been reading the fantastically nerdy Hamilton The Revolution : Being the Complete Libretto of the Broadway Musical, With A True Account of Its Creation, and Concise Remarks on Hip-hop, the Power of Stories, and the New America and can thoroughly recommend it as it showcases the thought put into every single aspect of the show.