Picture Post: a visually stunning record of the twentieth century

LogoHave you seen  The Picture Post Historical Archive? It’s a full digital reproduction of  an iconic British newspaper published between 1938 and 1957.  It’s a valuable record of those years in all sorts of areas:

  • History and culture: the everyday lives of all levels of society in the mid-20th century;
  • Politics: The paper was liberal and staunchly anti-fascist, revealing much about  attitudes of the times;
  • Media/journalism: A pioneer of photojournalism;
  • Art & photography: Famous photographers worked for the publication including Bill Brandt.

The Picture Post Historical Archive will appeal to anyone studying, teaching or with an interest in twentieth century history. It’s also visually stunning – I challenge you not to fall in love with it!

You can access  many other useful premium websites from home with your library card number and PIN, or at our open community libraries.

Get ya geek on: Really useful resources for NCEA History

Be forever remembered for your awesome results in NCEA History by using these super helpful resources!

A photographic treasure trove of Canterbury’s past!

The Christ Church Cathedral under construction, looking at the east arch from Worcester Street, Christchurch (circa 1880)

At your library, we’ve taken great care and time to capture our province’s past. Browse our fine collection of online photographs – they show just how far we have come – and might serve as inspiration for the future.

Our website contains a vast collection of material on Caterbury’s history – did you know the Christ Church Cathedral lost its spire three times in separate earthquakes between 1881 and 1901?

I’ve stopped reading, what can I do?

coverIn times of stress I stop reading.  I have the concentration span of a gnat.  Books I have reserved and coveted for a long time are languishing by my bed.  I will return them to be read by someone more deserving.

What I can manage however are magazines – nothing too serious, mind you.  I fill my head with tittle tattle and meaningless fluff that satisfies my desire to read but not think.  The library of course has a huge variety of magazines to satisfy all tastes, including mine, thank goodness.

Another past-time  guaranteed to sooth my unquiet mind and to stop all those jobs being done around the house is crosswords.  When I have the urge to cheat (which of course is not often…)  our library webpages  thankfully have an invaluable  link to various crossword solving resources.

Our games pages and hobbies page list other suggestions for tired brains and for a times when books feel a bit overtaxing.

Rebuilding Christchurch – Your voice

book coverAll sorts of people are popping up with ideas about the “new” Christchurch. Some are local, some are national and some are international commentators. As a resident and citizen of Christchurch you might  still be in the stunned mullet stage of coming to grips with the new normal. But if you are already thinking about what you want to see happen in your city there are a number of places where you can  share ideas.

One of the casualties of the quake was the Before After lecture series and display at the Christchurch Art Gallery but still has some interesting  ideas and comments.

If you want to do some reading check out our Urban Design resources. If you are thinking about what kind of houses we might build then I think Kevin McCloud’s 43 principles of home is a great place to start.

Are you a bit common?

LogoWe may have lost access to some of our family history resources at Central Library but we still have many great online resources if you are interested in “breeding”. Who knows, maybe you should have been invited to Will and Kate’s wedding?

Findmypast.co.uk is a family history and genealogy website which focuses on the United Kingdom. It contains among other resources:

  • The only 1841-1911 census collection online;
  • An online index of births, deaths and marriages (1837-2006);
  • Parish records for baptisms, marriages and burials dating from 1538;
  • Passenger lists for all long-haul voyages leaving the UK between 1890 and 1960.

This fantastic resource is  available at all our open  community libraries but is not available outside libraries. Come in and have a play an explore our other electronic family history resources.

History, a happy escape

book coverYesterday I read that a film that has just been made based on Rosemary Sutcliff’s novel The Eagle of the Ninth. This has always been a favourite book of mine and it made me think about how much I enjoyed historical novels when I was kid. Geoffrey Trease, Henry Treece, Ronald Welch and of course Sutcliff herself – how I devoured those books! They fired my imagination by taking me to places and events  far removed from my everyday existence.

I was a keen reader of adult historical novels for a while, but seem to have fallen away from reading many lately. Wolf Hall has been a highlight, but not much else. A quick check of my bookshelves showed some old favourites I’ve been hanging on to – Mary Stewart, Cecelia Holland, Alfred Duggan, Graeme Shelby. These could provide some great escapist re-reading over the coming months but I think I need some new suggestions.

Any historical fiction fans out there with some good suggestions? In the meantime I’ll take advantage of our wonderful library storehouse – many of those old favourites are available.

Origins: A treasure for family history hunters

CemeteryOn 4 May 1691, Alice Bayley,  “widow, crazy and sickly” of  St Saviour Southwark, left instructions in her will:

To my grandsons Thomas Bayley and Henry Bayley my four engine looms; to my granddaughter Elizabeth Bayley all my household goods; to my cousin Mary Wysam my black crepe gown and petticoat and a pair of stays.

How do I know this? I found this out  on the National Wills index which is contained in Origins – a family history website that offers access to British, Scottish and  Irish genealogy records.

Much of our family history collection is within the walls of the Central Library, which is closed, but there are family history electronic resources available from all our open community libraries. Origins is only available in libraries between 10am and 7pm due to license restrictions, but it is still a treasure for family history hunters!

Check out our other online family history resources – you never know what you might find!

Something for Neil Gaiman fans

Neil Gaiman is one of the great lineup of authors contributing to Tales for Canterbury, an earthquake fundraiser.book cover

The short story anthology from Random Static Press is edited by Anna Caro and J.C. Hart. All funds raised through the sale of ebook and print copies will go to the New Zealand Red Cross 2011 Earthquake Appeal.

Contributors include:  Neil Gaiman, Karen Healey, Gwyneth Jones, Jay Lake, Cat Connor, Helen Lowe, Sean Williams, Grant Stone, Simon Petrie, Jeff Vandermeer.

Words for Christchurch: Jan Kemp

Poet and short story writer Jan Kemp sent these Words for Christchurch to us from Germany.

i.m. Victims of the Christchurch Earthquake, NZ,  22nd February 2011

Tunisia, Egypt, Christchurch, Libya, Japan,

a month of revolutions & catastrophes each one occurring

as we revolve, a bit askew, on our wobbly axis round the sun.

Each one, none less our own than our own; & of the smallest

we each know of a particular someone: we, a small

population, close-knit, here in this ‘far-pitched … hostile place …

fixed at the friendless outer edge of space’,

[Sonnet of Brotherhood, R.A.K. Mason]

someone whose name was on the missed list,

someone whose house was smash-hit or now red-ticketed for demolition,

someone the rescuers in Day-Glo-orange and hard hats

putting themselves on the line couldn’t helicopter out

from an upper floor, a punched-out window or find under

slabs of concrete and bricks that once clad the sides

of Durham & Colombo Streets. Like young city fathers,

the new skyscrapers among their nineteenth century

re-facaded elders, all now steel girders & plates & shards

made giant spilled Meccano, as if after a bomb had dropped –

the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächntis-Kirche in Berlin with its still-broken spire

left as a remembrance, a new one built no higher, from the ground up.

Will we leave Christchurch Cathedral’s spire as rubble or rebuild it

too as a sign, like the words: Monte Cassino, Gallipoli, Anzac, signs of what

we feel is and was our innocence abroad, whether or not the disaster

was human-caused or of natural force beyond control?

Who can take on Ruaumoko stirred up to such fury, striking at random to vent internal wrath

from our planet’s core even an earthquake god cannot be blamed for?

‘Perilous’, precious, this life, these lives, these deaths for which

we now all gather under the sky’s great cloak to mourn.

Jan Kemp MNZM, Kronberg im Taunus, Germany, Sunday 13 March 2011