Primary school children celebrate International Year of Light

FireworksThis year is the International Year of Light.  To acknowledge this, Primary Science Week, which runs from the 4th to the 8th of May, will see primary school children join people all around the world in their celebration of light.

The NZAPSE (New Zealand Association of Primary Science Educators) has some exciting experiments that children can try out in the classroom, or at home with parental help. Investigate the effectiveness of sunscreen, make your own solar bottle lights or jelly optical fibre, or choose from 80 one minute science experiments.

You can also enter a Light Photo Competition. Check out what is on in Christchurch and get first hand practice with experimenting with light.

Don’t stop there: we have some great books on the topic of light and awesome information on our web page of science links for kids.

Cover of Flash! Cover of Light, Sound and Electricity Cover of Science Experiments With Light

Primary Science Week 4th-8th May 2015. Various locations around Christchurch.

Being ribald at whippings: Jon Ronson’s So you’ve been publicly shamed

Cover of So you think you've been publicly shamed

So you’ve been publicly shamed by Jon Ronson is a brutal read. It could so easily be you or me, saying something off the cuff on Facebook or Twitter and having it swirl back on you.

Jon meets the real people behind the stories of social media shaming, including:

  • Science writer Jonah Lehrer, pinged for plagiarism by another journalist, requesting forgiveness with a live Twitter feed on screen behind his head. And people on Twitter respond with venom.
  • Justine Sacco, who gets off a plane in Capetown to discover she’s lost her job and her reputation thanks to a tweet.
  • A couple of tech chaps who have their photo taken and spread around the internet after a throwaway joke.

It happens so fast, and blows people’s lives apart. But Jon Ronson wants to know how they get through it, how they rebuild their lives after being shamed.  And how people like Max Mosley manage to not take shame on board at all.

He looks at how your online reputation can be “cleansed”, and how much money there is in shaming.

It is nightmarish stuff, and you can see phenomena like the “Twitter mob” or “social media pile-on” play out with heartless regularity. Twitter and Facebook may be the hotbeds, but the stories end up in the mainstream media too. What is harder to uncover is why people are so keen to join the braying mob:

The response to Jonah’s apology had been brutal and confusing to me. It felt as if the people on Twitter had been allowed to choose their roles, and all had gone for the part of the hanging judge. Or it was even worse than that. They all had gone for the part of the people in the lithographs being ribald at whipping. (p.51)

New, cute, and perhaps crazy knitting for winter

Cover of Mini knitted woodlandI get together with some friends fortnightly in an informal craft group, or “stitch and bitch” as one participant calls it. The cosy surroundings and good chat lends itself well to trying new things and meeting new people. It’s interesting to see what crafts people are into and at what level of skill they’re at.

Whether you are a group knitter or solo, here are some of the unusual titles I have seen in our libraries recently –

Cover of Knitted rabbitsCover of Woolly woofersCover of More monster knitsCover of Knit your own kama sutra

Cover of Knitting rugsCover of Arm knittingCover of Vingtage knits for him and herCover of knitted miniature animalsCover of WTF knitsCover of Knit your own petCover of Knit your own boyfriend

You’ll find more knitting titles in our collection, as well as titles published in 2014 & 2015.

Our Internet Gateway recommends some great craft websites too. World Book Craft Corner has access to thousands of engaging projects suitable for a broad spectrum of hobbyists – from beginner to expert, for children and adults.

CINCH, our community directory, lists local knitting groups and a variety of handicrafting groups that you could join.

Often we are looking for time out from our busy lives to do something just for ourselves. Consider starting your own knitting group with your friends. No experience necessary.

Our eBook smorgasbord

With the popularity of OverDrive it is easy to forget two other gems in our eBook library crown – Askews and Wheelers. Now that people are increasingly comfortable with eBooks and the associated processes it is time to bring these two in from the shade and have a play! Let us have a look:

Askews eBooks

KTT Askews 1Askews is based in the UK, so has a wide range of fiction and nonfiction content with a focus on British content, titles and authors. Some of the titles are now no longer in print, so life has been breathed back into them by becoming an Askews eBook. There are nearly 3,000 fiction and nonfiction titles ranging from Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall to Joan Collins raving about her passionate life. Oh dear.

Wheelers eBooks

9781927147344This is our own eBook platform from Aotearoa New Zealand. Its strength is New Zealand content. From Margaret Mahy to Maori and New Zealand concerns and stories – you will find it all here in digital format just waiting for you to download.

Take time to explore these two. They look and contain eBook content that is different from their older and larger American big brother OverDrive. All you will need is your library card number and a password/PIN.

Te Kupu o te Wiki – The Word of the Week

Kia ora. To celebrate Te Reo Māori we are publishing kupu (words).

Kīwaha (colloquialism)

Te āhua nei.
It certainly looks that way.

Kupu (word)


He kererū, he kea rānei te manu rā?
Is that bird a kererū or a kea?

This week in Christchurch history (27 April to 3 May)

27 April 1872
Railway north open to Kaiapoi.

28-29 April 1983
Visit of Prince and Princess of Wales.

29 April 1974
Cr. David Caygill, aged 25, becomes the city’s youngest ever acting Mayor (for 5 days).

30 April 1875
New library building completed on the corner of Cambridge Terrace and Hereford Street. Designed by W.B. Armson, the building was demolished following the 2010-2011 earthquakes.

The Library buildings pictured from the Hereford Street bridge, 1897.
The Library buildings pictured from the Hereford Street bridge, 1897. Christchurch City Libraries, CCL PhotoCD 6, IMG0080

30 April 1971
6,000 protesters march against the war in Vietnam.

1 May 1975
Canterbury University completes its move from city to Ilam campus.

2 May 1872
New St Michael’s Anglican Church opens.

St. Michael's Church, Christchurch [ca. 1885]
St. Michael’s Church, Christchurch [ca. 1885], Christchurch City Libraries, CCL PhotoCD 12, IMG0080

3 May 1851
George Gould opens shop in Christchurch. The business eventually became part of Pyne Gould Guinness and Co.

3 May 1985
6,000 Christchurch citizens rally against the All Black tour of South Africa.

More April and May events in the Christchurch chronology: a timeline of Christchurch events in chronological order from pre-European times to 1989.

ANZAC Day, 1952

Anzac Day, 1952. Norman Pierson : Korean War photographs

Anzac Day, Korea, 1952. Norman Pierson : Korean War Photographs

Remembering them

Taking a ride on the tram is becoming a bit of a school holiday habit for the Young Lad and me.  On our trip round the loop the other day, we passed the Field of Remembrance at Cranmer Square.

Field of Remembrance. Flickr, 2015-03-27-IMG_6779

Field of Remembrance. Flickr, 2015-03-27-IMG_6779

I have to admit that Anzac Day has never really meant much to me, except as a day off school when I was a kid.  This year, though, it seems so much more significant. You see, I’ve spent the last couple of months researching a soldier for the New Brighton Boys project, and suddenly the war became real to me.  Seeing all those white crosses — I got a little choked up trying to explain to the Young Lad what it was all about.  Each of those crosses was suddenly a person to me, not just a statistic, or a page in a history book, but a real person with a life, a family; a person with dreams for a future that ought to have been but never would.

J. F. HaynesI can’t think of John Frederick Haynes as anything but my soldier.  My blue eyed, brown haired boy, who shares my Dad’s birthday, and lived round the corner from where I grew up — and died when he was just 23. I’d never heard of him before last November, and started out with just a name and a service number, but the more I found out about him, the more I wanted to know. The bald facts that I found in military records, electoral rolls, church registers, and Births, Deaths, and Marriages records coalesced, blossomed, and became tangible to me.

I could almost have been there in the room when his little brother Lawrence, who was just 19, came home and told his family that the attesting officer had let him enlist this time. I felt his mother’s sadness that she’d lost her middle boy to the war and now her baby had enlisted too. Was it she who convinced Francis, the eldest, that he needed to enlist to keep an eye on Lawrence? Did Francis’ wife, Reubena, try to persuade him not to go? Either way, Francis enlisted the very next day.

Lawrence and Francis came home. John did not.

This Anzac Day I will remember them.

A lesson for conscriptionists

Cover of Ripa Island A lesson for conscriptionistsWe’ve recently digitised a very interesting publication that shows a different side to military service than the one we’re used to seeing.

In 1912, military training or “drills” were compulsory for boys from 14 years of age. Refusal to attend training, even on religious grounds, was considered a serious infringement that could result in confinement at a fortress for a period of 28 days. There were other potential consequences too.

In addition to imposing a fine at the beginning of this process, the magistrate may, and frequently does, declare the offender, for any period up to ten years, ineligible to be employed in the public service, or to vote at a Parliamentary election. The Education Department also takes a hand, and deprives the boy who has not done his drills of any scholarship which he may have won.

Pretty harsh stuff for teenagers to have to contemplate.

Published in London in 1913 by the “Friends’ Peace Committee” and written by “passive resister” Samuel Veale Bracher, Ripa Island: A lesson for conscriptionists tells the story of 13 youths from Christchurch and the West Coast who refused military training and were subsequently imprisoned in Fort Jervois on Ripapa (Ripa) Island . Bracher uses the story of the Ripa martyrs as a plea against conscription in Britain.

Initially the boys are treated well and are happy to do manual work that is set them by the officer in charge, but when they refuse to clean guns and take part in military drills, and are subsequently punished with half rations they go on a hunger strike.

At about 3.15 p.m., Bombardier Moir and the other soldiers again came in, and this time we were asked if we would drill and learn semaphore signalling. Again a negative answer was given. An attempt was going to be made to force us to drill, but we were determined that it should fail. Force would have no more effect upon us than coaxing had previously. We had been offered a forty-eight hours holiday in Christchurch if we would drill. We had refused. Now we were going to be slowly starved into submission on half rations, but we would beat them; we would starve ourselves and so bring about a climax .

What follows is an interesting insight into what happens when an irrestistible force comes up against an immoveable object.

The drama unfolds very quickly with one chap succumbing to sickness very early (described later as “biliousness”) and attending his own hastily arranged court trial while unconscious.

Sergeant-Major Conley asked if Robson was to be brought in. ‘Yes,’ replied Macdonald. ‘But he can’t talk,’ protested the sergeant-major. At this moment the lieutenant lost his temper and said, ‘Bring him in! Use any force you like! ‘ A few minutes later Robson was carried in unconscious between two soldiers.

He’s subsequently accused of “malingering” yet remains floppy, pale, and unmoving for the entirety of his “trial”.

Appeals are made, an enquiry is called for, and a follow up trial is held which returns a rather different verdict.

Read the whole story online in Ripa Island: A lesson for conscriptionists.

For more information on the Ripa Island dissenters and compulsory military training for youths see:

We sighted the Southern Cross tonight

‘We sighted the Southern Cross tonight & the first time I’ve seen it since 1916’ – E.H. Aubrey, Soldier’s diary

‘On 1st May, 1941, I entered Burnham Military Camp, Pte. R.T. Street, 19088’ – Rewai Street : World War II letters, diaries and photographs

Sergeants Mess, Japan, on the way home. November 1952. Norman Pierson : Korean War Photographs

We have just added the following to our digital collection: