Cats r us

I shall say nothing on the current cat debate, though the links between cats and librarians are as mythically strong as cardigans, spectacles and shushing. But we do have a bit of a cat history here at Christchurch City Libraries and I can’t resist sharing some of our awesome cat pics:
Barbara Collie and George
Public Library Cat
More here , if you are so inclined.

Picture books: latest picks

Some picks from our January Picture books newsletter including the lovely and uber-colourful sense books by PatrickGeorge:

Cover  Cover Cover Cover  Cover Cover  Cover Cover

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The pill of the period, 1902

High Street looking north to the Post Office, Christchurch : at left is Bonnington’s Building.
[ca. 1884]

Read the Lost Christchurch blog post on Bonnington’s Chemist, High Street and the growth of Irish Moss. It is a riveting piece of local history involving wealth, uncanny deaths, and murder by “Hydrochloric Acid in a beer bottle”.
— — — — —

We have digitised a rather splendid 1902 publication Tourists’ guide to Canterbury.

I will share some of the interesting ads and pictures from it in a series of posts – there’s lots of information about local businesses and places in 1902.

The summer hols of a bookie nerd

CoverI tried to go to the West Coast for my summer holidays. I tried to go there in October as well to see the white herons nesting. The roads however, insisted on being either snowed in or washed out. After much pounding on keyboards I ended up in Hanmer instead. And what is there to do in Hanmer but relax? (Well alright you could rush around in jet boats, on foot, or on bicycles and bounce around on the end of a rubber rope, but that’s my idea of hell)

My book loving friends always look to me to for a haul of nice new library books to bring on holiday and some new authors for them to try. They introduce me to a few as well. We read each other’s favourite authors and put the ones we like on our ‘for later’ shelves. Can you tell I’m a librarian?


So –  total relaxation, hot weather, lots of books to lounge around reading and lashings of lemonade– my summer hols were my idea of bliss.

My new finds:

  • Ben Sanders – a New Zealand mystery writer in the tradition of American police detective fiction. Well worth a read.
  • Donna Malane – The NZ Marcia Muller. Her detective is every bit as entertaining as the American equivalent.

Their new finds

  • Brian McGilloway One of the new generation of Irish crime writers. If you like a good police procedural give him a go.
  • Anne Holt and Kjell Eriksson Anne Holt is hot property at the moment, but hands up those who have heard of Kjell Eriksson. His books are not your run-of- the –mill Scandinavian crime. They’re a bit different and I find them entertaining and a sometimes thought provoking.
  • Colin Cotterill His contribution left my friend chuckling and begging to take the book with her to finish.

The joys of the Summertime Reading Club

Summertime Reading Club winner Daniel with Mark of Paper PlusChristchurch kids have been busy over the hols with the Summertime Reading Club. Congratulations to the winners and thanks to all who entered for their great work. Have a look at photos of the prizegiving at Central Library Tuam on Friday 25 January 2013.

Summertime Reading Club

  • 1st prize Daniel Powley
  • 2nd prize Ashleigh-Jo Smith
  • 3rd prize Teighan Connolly

SCAPE colouring competition

SCAPE Colouring Competition - winners on display at Central Library Tuam

1st prize Arna Emslie

SCAPE Colouring Competition - 1st prize

2nd prize Jack Sheedy

SCAPE Colouring Competition - 2nd prize

3rd prize Alisha Warwick

SCAPE Colouring Competition - 3rd prize

Runner up Jessica Olds

SCAPE Colouring Competition - highly commended

Runner up Jason Yun

SCAPE Colouring Competition - highly commended

Runner up Oliver Wheeler

SCAPE Colouring Competition - highly commended

View photos of the SCAPE colouring competition.

Photography competition: Reading a book in your favourite summer place:

1st prize Angus Steve: New Brighton

Summertime Reading Club

2nd place: Hannah Warwick


3rd place: Amelia Kirkness


Highly commended: Arlia O’Sullivan


Highly commended: Katie Morison


Highly commended: Emma Rashbrook–Field


Beauties (2)

Cover: Love looks not with the eyesThe big beautiful books just keep on coming and who am I to turn them away? I have a new category (a list can’t be far away) – “Books too big to be taken home”.

Love looks not with the eyes is a collection of over 400 photographs of the work of fashion designer Alexander McQueen. Anne Deniau is a French woman who photographed the models backstage at Givenchy, where she met McQueen when he did his first collection there. Their relationship continued for the next 13 years until McQueen’s sad death.

The photographs are very beautiful, but the really interesting thing about them is that they are taken behind the scenes – there are none of the models on the runway and the clothes really star. All the amazing details are here to be examined: the embroidery, the make-up, the hats, the sets. Also seeing how the beautiful genetic freaks that are the models tower over the ordinary mortals who design, make and fit the clothes. And how many of the models smoke.

Cameron Silver has a bachelor’s degree in theatre and after he graduated he began a career as a modern-dayCover: Decades interpreter of Weimar cabaret songs.  While travelling the United States interpreting, he visited second-hand shops, finding some great men’s clothes but lots more women’s. With the soul of a true collector he bought them without quite knowing what he was going to do with them.

Other true collectors also buy things without knowing what they are going to do with them – generally what they do with them is stuff them into already crowded cupboards, telling themselves they will mend, alter, display or in some way use them.  Cameron Silver is made of sterner and richer stuff. He decided to retire from interpreting and open a vintage couture boutique in Beverly Hills, specialising in “only the finest pre-worn clothing”. Not only that, but the clothing had to look modern.

After he’d been buying and selling these clothes for 12 years or so, he decided to write about them. Decades, a look at clothes from the 1900s to the 1990s, is the result. And what a result. The book  combines lovely big photographs from fashion magazines with publicity shots of movie stars, and well-written observations of how fashion changed as society did. It’s really worth a good poring over, but park near the entrance of the library if you plan on taking it home.

Happy birthday Pride and Prejudice!

book cover28 January 2013 marks the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice. In those 200 years it has earned all kinds of tags – greatest novel in the English language, most loved, most popular. On my first reading of it I loved it but thought how much it had provided a template for many romance novels. You know – haughty bloke and stroppy gal go head to head before realising the error of their ways and falling into each other’s arms at the end.

This is certainly played out in the many film and television adaptations. When you read the book you can go beyond the romance novel machinations. Jane Austen actually says a lot about the condition of  women in her society – a future secured only by marriage, power only through titled status, intelligent women like Elizabeth and her friend Charlotte Lucas trapped in their situations with marriage the only way out, the risk of predatory men like George Wickham, and how easily a woman (and her sisters) can be ruined.

I think it is her humour, her portrayal of society in the country and places like London, Bath and Portsmouth, of families, of women helping women, of women undermining women and the sharp eyed detail for character make her books so attractive to us and the film makers. The quality of her writing is such that you can read her again and again and not be disappointed.

Some frivolous bits:

And finally thanks to the magic of Wikipedia, here is W.H. Auden (from his poem Letter to Lord Byron):

You could not shock her more than she shocks me,
Beside her Joyce seems innocent as grass.
It makes me most uncomfortable to see
An English spinster of the middle class
Describe the amorous effects of ‘brass’,
Reveal so frankly and with such sobriety,
The economic basis of society.

Christchurch – this week in history (28 January – 3 February)

31 January 1921
New Zealand’s first regular airmail service begins between Christchurch, Ashburton and Timaru.

2 February 1960
Burnside High School opens. For a long time it was the biggest high school in the Southern Hemisphere.

2 February 1974
Commonwealth Games end with “the greatest middle distance race of all time”. Tanzanian Filbert Bayi wins the 1500 metres in new world record time. Second was John Walker who also broke the existing record. The national records of five countries Tanzania, Kenya, Australia, Great Britain and New Zealand – were all broken in this race.

3 February 1915
Canterbury Battalion sustains New Zealand’s first casualties of W.W.I at Suez Canal. Read the letters of Cecil Malthus who spent three years in the Canterbury Battalion.

More January and February events in our Christchurch chronology.

Learning opportunities at our libraries in 2013 – Community connections

pampletIf you don’t know what Delicious and Pinterest are, or how you might enjoy using them – read on. Our Community Connections for Adults programme for the first half of 2013 is out and it is full of great learning opportunities in our Learning Centres. Under the themes of Get creative and Get comfortable with your computer you are sure to find something to suit you.

Explore the creative possibilities of your digital camera, get into blogging and writing or learn about Delicious and Pinterest. Learn about local Maori History while exploring our Ti Kouka Whenua website.

We have drop in sessions, Computers and Coffee for both beginners and beyond beginners. If you got an eBook reader for Christmas and you are struggling with it there are courses for you. Is the Social Network a mystery you want to explore? Again – courses for you.

There is also a Community Connections for Families programme.

We have learning centres at South Library, New Brighton, Upper Riccarton and Parklands. If you follow us on Facebook and Twitter we also advertise learning opportunities at other libraries in our network as they come along. And don’t forget – if you can’t make one of our courses but still have a question about using our computer resources our friendly librarians may be able to help you.

Fantasy: latest picks

Some picks from our January Fantasy newsletter:

Hunter and Fox cover Vengence by Ian Irvine cover The Red Knight cover The Inexplicables by Cherie Priest, cover Brink of Chaos by Tim LaHaye and Craig Parshall, cover Sailor Twain, or The Mermaid in the Hudson by Mark Siegel, cover

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Have you read any of these books? If so, we’d love your feedback!