Displaced reader hits the North West

I didn’t have to travel very far at all to get to Papanui Library – the “best little library in the North West”. No nice little road trips and ice creams for me (not that I’m bitter or anything). I used to inhabit the Central Library, but 2011 took me to South, Linwood and now the Fingertip Library, which is located just behind Papanui Library. It’s a very convenient location with all kinds of shopping just outside the door and a great big car park right beside the library.

I’m impressed by the very up-to-the-minute décor featuring eggshell blue/red combinations and a photographic mural of a high rise city at night. Spots, stripes and patterns are mixed together in the soft furnishings to create a sophisticated and satisfying background. In the returns area hangs a rather lovely sculpture donated by some Invercargill artists. Not that I can see much of all this – it’s obscured by all the people.

Children enjoy Andy Wright's storytelling

I’m used to busy libraries, but Papanui is really buzzing. The children’s corner is crammed with entranced littlies chanting “he walked and he walked and he walked and he walked” as they join in with the story performed (and I mean performed) by professional storyteller Andy Wright.

The new smart issue stations are surrounded by people getting their books out, or being guided through the process by a bevy of librarians. Down in the children’s area, the kids are absorbed in the same process using Archie The Penguin. The shelves are full of people browsing and all the tables and computers are in use.

Closed libraries apart, I can understand why this is library people like to visit. It has nice Bestseller and magazine collections, substantial amounts of  fiction and non-fiction to choose from and yes – good sources of coffee and even lunch places and bars in the vicinity. You could combine your trip with a chance to cross some of those purchases off your to-do list, or have a browse around the shops.

It’s D-Day

cover2012 is the year of Charles Dickens. Around the world people will be celebrating 200 years since his birth on 7 February, 1812.

Charles Dickens was a writing and publishing machine when he was alive. Serialised stories, speakers tours – Charles went where there was good money to be made. No doubt his “Dickensian” childhood of poverty and uncertainty left its mark. In 2012 the industry will be churning out eBooks, DVDs, audiobooks, book books, Muppet versions, Classic comics, Graphic novels – he’s even been zombified. Old Charles would love it and embrace the money making potential as enthusiastically as he did when he was alive.

There are many exhibitions, debates, films and plays launching throughout 2012. The British Library, Museum of London, and British Film Institute have begun early by staging some of their Dickens fare this month. The British Council is hosting events in 50 countries and Dickens 2012, the umbrella group co-ordinating festivities, anticipates a rewarding return investment.

This is all a  monument to the power of the storyteller. “I am born….” What confidence to launch your novel like that. Not only has he entered the language – Dickensian London, a pecksniff etc etc but many of us will have had powerful visual images implanted while reading his novels or watching film adaptations. Great Expectations is perhaps the best with characters like Miss Havisham and her house, and the convict Abel Magwitch. A certain English themed television channel in New Zealand is screening  Great Expectations, Bleak House, and  The Mystery of Edwin Drood during February.

If you don’t have that channel we have a number of film and television adaptations you can borrow. Not to mention a vast supply of Charles Dickens books. I must make a point of reading at least one of his novels this year. If you want to know more about the man, there is a sizeable biography industry represented here.

For all that there are many Dickens fans and societies, there is also a sizeable group who can’t abide Dickens. Where do you fall? And do you have a favourite Dickensian word?