Q. Where does a librarian go on a day off?

Photo of Old Smiths' Books on Manchester Street. Photo on Kete Christchurch.
Old Smiths’ Books on Manchester Street. Photo on Kete Christchurch.

Q. Where does a librarian go on a day off?

A. To a bookshop to meet another librarian.

Last week I was meeting a librarian friend I hadn’t seen for quite a while. I was looking forward to a catch up. We had a quick instant messaging conversation on Facebook to arrange the venue.

Where shall we meet?

What about Smiths Bookshop at The Tannery?

Sounds like a fine place for two librarians to meet.

So Smiths Bookshop it was, librarians can be very decisive people.

Smith’s Bookshop is a well-loved institution in Christchurch. It sells antiquarian books, secondhand books, new books, magazines, stationery and art supplies. It has now reopened in the new Tannery Emporium in Woolston. This was to be my first visit and I was looking forward it. It turned out to be a very satisfying outing for a number of reasons.

Being in the bookshop was a bit like being at work but without the responsibility. I love libraries, and have for a long while, so being in a bookshop is the next best thing. I could slowly enjoy browsing the shelves and could happily chat about any good finds.

North end of Cathedral Square
North end of Cathedral Square, 1980s.

Old and new postcards were on sale on the front desk. I always like to have a selection of good cards to send to family during the year so enjoyed rifling through the box. There was a postcard of Christchurch Square, round red buses were on the road and the Cathedral in the background. It reminded me of the wonderful historic image collection we have in the library. I can always find something that sparks my curiosity.

New magazines were spread on a table for browsing. I discovered a new magazine Flow an arts and craft magazine which I hadn’t seen before. It reminded me of one of my favourite magazines Frankie. I always look out for this in the library as it is well written, absorbing, and a good read. I thought this would make an interesting addition to the library collection so I made a mental note to ask them to purchase it, something easy to do through the library website.

There was a wide selection of architecture, renovation and textile books, providing inspirational ideas and motivation for all those repairs and rebuilds that still need to be done. These days  I try not to buy many books, am taking a more minimalist approach to life, so I noted a couple of good books and thought I would check to see if these were available on the library catalogue later.

My friend and I whiled away an hour in Smiths Bookshop, went on to browse the other new shops and ended with a much deserved sit down and cup of coffee. A satisfying afternoon for two librarians on their day off.

Call on the P.O.P.: 1902

View in our collection

If 176 High Street was the same then, this may have been the property:

View an image on Kete Christchurch

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

CDs, children and cathedrals – cool new stuff from our selectors

Cover of Field notes from a Hidden city.Esther Woolfson’s Field notes from a hidden city looks at the ecology of Aberdeen over a year. She uncovers the wildlife in an urbanised environment that is fascinating, enduring and can go unnoticed. She had previously written Corvus, an equally fascinating look at crows, many of which she’d adopted over the years.

A book that the publisher is touting heavily The Private War of J. D. Salinger is a biography of one of the most loved and most reclusive writers of our time.  It has apparently taken eight years to write and research and is linked to a documentary film Harvey Weinstein is  going to release at the same time the book is published.

Cover of The day the crayons quit.For something new from the CD collection try Shocking Miss Emerald by Caro Emerald. Caro cites the Andrews Sisters, Sarah Vaughan and Billie Holiday as her influences, although the context is very much a contemporary sound.

Wood Pallet Projects may not be the most exciting title of the month, but considering the fabulous work that ReKindle is doing then this book could generate many exciting projects.

I Saw A Peacock with A Fiery Tail is a lovely children’s book, deceptively simple, but with wonderful depth. It  illustrates a poem that gives different meanings depending on how it is read. One way of reading makes perfect sense, and the other leads to fantastic images.  A book to be enjoyed by adults and children alike.

Another children’s book that is not quite so sophisticated but will make a great read-aloud is The Day the Crayons Quit.  Duncan just wants to colour in, but when he opens the book the colours have all written him letters.  Beige is tired of playing second fiddle to Brown, Blue needs a break from colouring in all that water, while Pink Cover of Imperial Gothic.just wants to be used. Green has no complaints, but Orange and Yellow are no longer speaking to each other!  Very funny and great illustrations by Oliver Jeffers.

Imperial Gothic:  Religious Architecture and High Anglican Culture in the British Empire, C. 1840-70 is at first glance an imposing rather dry-looking book, but gives for those of you interested in the heritage of the ChristChurch Cathedral it provides great insight and worldwide context to it and a number of other Canterbury and New Zealand churches.

Kids’ Books: picks from our latest newsletter

Some picks from our July Kids’ Books newsletter:

Cover of Life Below the City.Cover of ThornspellCover of A Tangle of KnotsCover of The Natural World.Cover of Breadcrumbs.Cover of FroggedCover of Wildwood.Cover of Mouse, Bird, Snake, Wolf.Cover of The Secret of the Stone Frog

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For more great reads for kids, check out our Fun to Read page – it links you to reading lists, if you likes, interactive quizzes and lots more.

Crafty librarians

"Create" DisplayLibrarians are a crafty lot. Their inventiveness constantly amazes me. Currently we have a knitted pig known as Crisp E Bacon (apologies to all vegetarians) sitting in our workroom (see him in the display at right). He is the handiwork of a colleague who loves to knit. I understand her son is the proud owner of a whole herd of knitted dinosaurs.

Our small staff includes enthusiastic quilt-makers, knitters, painters, decoupage and mosaic artists, makers of jewelry and all manner of other things. The library network as a whole also boasts some pretty amazing artists as shown by our Bookish Artists exhibition held occasionally at New Brighton Library.

If you are the creative type, working a library is a great thing to do. Books inspiring art and craft projects abound on our shelves and can be seen departing daily in the arms of starry-eyed librarians planning their next triumph.

Cover of Knitted farm animals.The rest of you don’t need to miss out though. Have a browse and put some inspiration on hold or on your for later shelf. Watch our for new books under Crafts and collecting in new non fiction or look in our catalogue for quilting, knitting, embroidery, or decoupage for inspiration.

For painting try acrylic, watercolour , oils or tempera painting techiniques Books can also be found under subjects such as wildlife painting, landscape painting and still-life painting

This week in Christchurch history (29 July – 4 August)

30 July 1976
7 Canterbury men in gold medal winning hockey team at the Montreal Olympics. See our page on Canterbury Olympians.

31 July 1856
By Royal Charter, Christchurch becomes New Zealand’s first city.

July 1862
New Zealand’s first professional boxing contest held on the banks of the Waimakariri River near Kaiapoi. Police with drawn pistols tried to stop the illegal contest, but were overwhelmed by the crowd of over 600. Subsequent legal proceedings were quietly withdrawn when it was found that the Crown Solicitor and several magistrates had been among the spectators. Read more in Beginnings, from An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock, originally published in 1966. Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, updated 22-Apr-09

Christchurch chronology
A timeline of Christchurch events in chronological order from pre-European times to 1989.

Picture books: picks from our latest newsletter

Some picks from our July Picture Books newsletter:

Cover of If you want to see a whale.Cover of A great cake.Cover of How to bicycle to the moonCover of Tiger in my soup.Cover of The Pet project.Cover of Bluebird

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

Hidden Absurdities

Your local Christchurch City Library is filled with popular titles everyone loves. The Jodi Picoults, Nora Roberts and Jamie Oliver cookbooks fill the library shelves. But how about the more obscure and, dare I say it, slightly odd books that live in our library?

A while ago I started collecting photocopied front covers of books with odd titles, or about unusual subjects, or books I just couldn’t imagine would have an audience, even a niche one. Many of my library colleagues started collecting for me too as the more obscure books passed through their hands. I now have an ever expanding pile of great covers.

How to Bombproof your Horse  is my favourite so far. It’s actually about teaching confidence and obedience to your horse in tricky situations such as crowds. I also took a double take at 1080 Recipes. Is it just me or would most Kiwis see that as cooking with possum poison? There are so many quirky titles hiding on the Non-Fiction shelves in your local library, it’s well worth a browse. Have you got a favourite quirky title?

cover for Bombproof your horsecover for When pancakes go bad

cover for Domestic slutterycover for Knit your own moustache

cover for The art of making fermented sausagescover for 1080 recipescover for How to make love to a plastic cup

Mick Jagger, 70

Photo of Mick Jagger
Rolling Stone Mick Jagger on stage at Wellington Town Hall. Further negatives of the Evening Post newspaper. Ref: EP/1965/0520-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23228931

Dang! Mick Jagger is 70 years old today. He has just rocked Glastonbury, and had Bono digging his wrinkles.

In 1965, The Rolling Stones visited Invercargill. Jagger (or possibly Keith Richards) infamously described it as “the arsehole of the world”.

Did you know a section of wall with his name on it is held in the archives of the Invercargill Public Library?

Here are some things Mick:


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Books that need space

Cover of WildlifeHave you ever read a book that needs space after reading?  You can’t get the book out of your head. You need time and space to mull over the story. Nothing satisfies, and you can’t move on to your next read. I know the signs when this happens to me. I become preoccupied with the story, with the characters, and with the insights gained. I am not ready to let go of all that I have read. This can go on for days. I can’t settle to any new read. I have just finished a book that has stimulated this state of mind.

Wildlife is a young adult novel, by Australian writer Fiona Wood that was initially recommended to me by two colleagues who are both avid and passionate readers. I listen when they make suggestions. Luckily for me they didn’t say too much about it. On the cover was another recommendation. This was from Melina Marchetta, a favourite author of mine. She describes it as a beautifully crafted novel that she couldn’t get out of her head.

I anticipated a good book. I didn’t expect a gem.

The opening lines immediately set the scene and quickly capture the mood of the story …

In the holidays before the dreaded term at Crowthorne Grammar’s outdoor education camp two things out of the ordinary happened.
A picture of me was plastered all over a twenty-metre billboard.
And I kissed Ben Capaldi.

I was hooked.

I’m not going to write a review of Wildlife as I don’t want to spoil the magic. Suffice to say, this story is about friendship, love, betrayal, and not fitting in. It is centred around learning to be true to yourself. It is well-crafted, insightful, captivating, dark, and at times very funny. The underlying tensions between the characters enhance the story and engage me as a reader. Look out for the interaction between Lou and her camp counsellor and the “say /don’t say” conversation.  This is a clever and astute piece of writing.

Even though I have finished Wildlife, I can’t get it out of my head. It has been a thought provoking read. I haven’t been able to pick up another book for days. I keep thinking about the depth to the story, the characters and their quirky traits, and parts of the book still roll around in my head. I am not ready to let go. This is a book that just needs space.

What book have you read that needs space?