Need a drink with that aftershock? – Image of the week

Serving a customer at Maling & Co. Ltd, 86 Gloucester Street. Circa 1960.

Serving a customer at Maling & Co. Ltd, 86 Gloucester Street

Do you have photos of Christchurch? We love donations.

Also contact us if you have any further information on any of the images. Want to see more? You can browse our collection.

Discover your family history in October

Would you like to know more about where you came from?  Come and join us at Central Library next week (4-8 October) and find out more about your family history.

Bring in Grandma or Grandad to help you find out more about your family history and have fun finding out about what it was like living in Christchurch in the olden days. You can fill in your family tree, look at old maps and photos of Christchurch, find out what happened on the day you were born in old newspapers, and even have your photo taken with your grandparents to stick in your booklet.

It’s a FREE event so come along to the Aotearoa New Zealand Centre on the 2nd floor of Central Library, Monday to Friday from 10am-12pm.


MetallicaMetallica – with support by Tainted, The Sword and Fear Factory
Wednesday 22 September 2010
by Emmy S

For many South Island Metallica fans, it was the concert of a life time – for me it was a dream come true. Christchurch crowds are hungry enough at the best of times, but when the most famous metal band in the world are in attendance they’re downright ravenous, as evidenced by the sea of black jeans and t-shirts surging in anticipation of finally seeing their heroes in the flesh. Ten years ago there would have been a lot more long hair and ripped denim, but while the fashion has changed and time’s added a few wrinkles here and there, Metallica’s spirit has not dulled with age.

MetallicaAdmittedly, going to a Metallica concert in 2010 prompts a reservation or two. Does James Hetfield’s voice still have what it takes? And will they play the old favourites such as One, Master of Puppets and the much loved (though not by me personally) Enter Sandman? As a devoted fan of 16 years I prepared myself for potential disappointment, however it soon became evident that there was no need for such trivial concerns. From the first note of That Was Just Your Life to the fading feedback at the end of Seek and Destroy, they played with all the heart one would have expected to see in the 1980s.

Metallica Continue reading

Super real! Ron Mueck

Imagine my elation – a trained figurative sculpture artist – when handed an invitation to the sneak preview of Ron Mueck’s exhibition at the Christchurch Art Gallery! I’ll be attending this Friday, before the show officially opens.

Believing lifesize sculpture is uninteresting because everyone encounters lifesize people everyday, Mueck plays with scale while capturing minute details of the human body. I’m anticipating an overwhelming sensory experience when faced with thirteen of  Mueck’s hyper-realisitc sculptures! Some monumental, others miniscule.

As one of the first people into the show, I’ll be sure to post my impressions. Watch this space!

In the meantime, why not read about Ron Mueck or brush up on your realist art and artists knowledge?

Ignorance is bliss – Canterbury earthquakes

PhotoOne of the first things I found in my inbox when I returned to work was the latest library newsletter, which referred to a destructive earthquake in Christchurch in 1888. My curiosity aroused, I thought I might look into the subject. Before I had the chance to however, Geoffrey Rice published a very interesting article in The Press outlining historical references to quakes in Christchurch in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Despite my naive belief that earthquakes are not frequent in Christchurch, the Cathedral Spire had to be redesigned because the Rhodes family got tired of having to pay to put it up again after it fell off during serious tremors.

I thought I would follow this up with a bit of a poke around in Papers Past to see what the news media of the time had to say and almost immediately came across a report by a Mr Hogben in which he states that, of the 748 quakes in New Zealand between 1848 and 1890, the most were around the Cook Strait region (going as far north as Wanganui) and the next region in frequency was Christchurch!

Mr Hogben was also looking for a correlation between the seasons and earthquakes. Unsurprisingly he didn’t find one. I could now tell him that he would have  been far better looking for the relationship between aftershocks and bedtime.

The 1888 quake was thought to be located in the Waiau region and it left “a well defined narrow depression in the ground which runs through the Waiau Valley, and almost straight across the country on either side over the hill and hollow” Sound familiar?

Read these articles in Papers Past:

Seeking the riches of geekdom – Software Freedom Day

CoverSoftware Freedom Day (18 September) sounded great – prize giveaways and demonstrations at Central and  South Libraries, including an install fest.

Boldly I sent forth my chic ubergeek agent for the inside story. She sloped off, dodging tech-head techno-babble and returned saying she recognized Tux the Penguin, before going back to her Nintendo for the rest of the afternoon.

The library’s free internet computers have Open Office – an open source software, and I wanted to know more. So Indiana Jones like, I set off to discover the hidden riches of computer geekdom.

Ubuntu I discovered is an operating system; Open Office is for documents, spreadsheets and presentations; and Firefox, of course,  is a web browser.  Kontact groupware handles your email and calendar; while Konqueror is the file manager.

It all sounded a bit much – but I was told the GNU/Linux Users ~ Sydenham GLU teach and give support for newbies and the Lucid Dojo is a place where you can upskill and learn at your own pace.

Software  freedom day is held each year in New Zealand based on the  principles of the user’s freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software. You can read more about the four freedoms on the GNU website.

Find out more from our website:

Find books and electronic resources in the library catalogue:

Boy + iPhone = iBoy

Are you inseparable from your cellphone, iPhone or iPod Touch?  You have instant access to information and can connect with friends and family at the touch of a screen.  Imagine though, if you had access to any cellphone, could hack into any computer system, and you had your own built-in defence system.   When Tom Harvey wakes up in hospital with fragments of an iPhone imbedded in his brain, this power is inside him.

In Kevin Brooks’ new book, iBoy, Tom lives in a high-rise housing estate where violence, drugs and gangs are a part of daily life.  At nine and a half minutes to four on a Friday afternoon, as Tom is walking back to his flat, a 32 GB iPhone is thrown out a window on the 30th floor, landing on Tom and shattering his skull.  When he wakes in the hospital, he discovers two things 1) that his friend, Lucy, has been brutally assaulted and 2) fragments of the iPhone are still imbedded in his brain and have given him the powers of an iPhone plus much more.  Tom becomes ‘iBoy‘ and must now decide whether he will use his powers to exact revenge on those who have hurt Lucy or keep quiet.  But will Tom be able to control his powers or will iBoy take over?

Although Kevin Brooks has been writing for years I’ve only just discovered him.  His stories are gritty and often portray the harsh realities of life, but his characters are just normal teenagers who have to find ways to deal with their problems.  Unlike some young adult novels, Brooks doesn’t pile his characters up with problems just for the sake of it.

If you like your young adult books with gritty storylines and real characters, rather than sparkly vampires and swooning girls, try iBoy by Kevin Brooks.

Ditch Hollywood, see the world instead

The recent Reel Anime Film Festival at Rialto proved to me once again that just as translated books offer alternative ways of telling stories, foreign movies can take you light-years away from Hollywood  formulas.

In the brochure, Summer Wars looked like a standard teen love story. Meh. King of Thorn  – dystopian sci-fi.  Meh-be. In the theatre, both of them took my preconceptions, ripped them to shreds, stomped on them, set them on fire and then threw them out the window.

CoverKing of Thorn, in particular, is a truly outstanding piece of cinema.   If I say it is a fantasy/horror/science-fiction/action-adventure retelling of Sleeping Beauty, set in the near future, this will still fail to capture any of its magic.  My movie-watching buddy said  it had completely altered his perceptions of everything in the universe.

And that’s the very best thing about these movies – that they take our pre-conceived ideas, shake them around, turn them upside down and hand them back to us, bigger, better and brighter than before.

To shake up your world:  search the catalogue for international films, by typing feature films and  a country into the search box, like this:

Then sit back and brace yourself …

My Pub Quiz Fantasy – The Man Booker Prize

This will be one of the favourites

I am quite spectacularly useless at pub quizzes.  How can it be that I know nothing at all about Paris Hilton and her ilk, dangerously little about the All Blacks and am so abysmally bad at the recognition of pop stars. I’ve lost count of the number of times I have been reduced to banging my glass of Pinot Gris onto the table and demanding: “When will they ask me something that I know?”  To which the Pub Quiz Wunderkind (PQW) from Customer Welcome countered – “What do you know, exactly?”

Well PQW, I know about The Man Booker Prize – the literary event that everybody loves to hate. Writing careers are made or broken on its back and it is about to wreak its annual havoc on the 9th October. I love the Booker prize for the massive interest in contemporary fiction that it inspires, so I took a vow to read every single Booker prizewinning novel from the beginning of time. Here’s what I have to look forward to this year:

You can’t look at this list of loveliness and not be moved to ask: Which book would you choose as the winner? And this being the Booker prize, the follow on question: Which book will actually win?

Fast forward to my fantasy. It’s Pub Quiz night and some poor suckers have been saddled with me as a team mate. A double point question comes up: “What was the third novel written by Booker Prize nominee Damon Galgut?”

This is my fantasy, so only I will know the answer. It is the unforgettable The Beautiful Screaming of Pigs. The crowd will go wild. The PQW will come over all respectful, I’ll be shouted another glass of plonk and my team will win.

Is this too much to ask?

What are your picks for this year’s Man Booker?

Food for the mind?

I love poetry.  I love reading it from those lovely slim volumes it often comes in, or from the heavy, thin papered volumes that are many years older than I am, and that’s old!

The 821s seem to be a less visited section of the library at times, but I urge you to venture there, as you will find stunning imagery, beautiful language and use of rhythm and rhyme that takes you out of the hum drum of daily life in a way that only great poetry can.

The library shelves have a huge variety of poetry, from the classics of English prose, such a Tennyson or Wordsworth, to the great New Zealand poets, Hone Tuwhare, Sam Hunt, Owen Marshall and Lauris Edmond to name a mere four, through to contemporary global poets discussing the problems of today’s society through their work.

Iggy McGoven is an Irish poet and writer. His new collection, Safe Houses, is yet to arrive on our shelves, but we do have  The King of Suburbia, which I enjoyed immensely.

Jessica Le Bas’ latest collection, Walking to Africa provides insight and understanding of the journey and experiences of a mother whose child experiences mental illness. In an interview on the Mental Health Foundation website, she said, “I’m excited to publish a collection of poetry that legitimises the nature of mental health continuum, as a part of what it is to be human, individual and different.”

Alison Wong must be riding high after being named the 2010 fiction winner for the New Zealand Post Book Awards for her first novel, As the Earth Turns Silver.  Her book of poems, Cup, which I  enjoyed reading, mixes poems of family, daily life, heartache and renewal.

I have always loved Owen Marshall’s writing, whether fiction or poetry, and his second collection, Sleepwalking in Antarctic and other Poems was no exception. This was inspired by a trip he took to the great southern continent in January as Antarctic Arts Fellow.

What do you love about poetry, what do you loathe about it even? Who is your favourite poet or maybe you can share a favourite poem perhaps.