Busy Things is getting busier

Sometimes my job is just sublime. An example of this is when Busy Things – a very popular kid’s eResource was upgraded. In the name of research I was “forced” to colour in dinosaurs, design football kits, create a lost pet’s poster and name a number of shapes. You see Busy Things was aimed at 3 to 7 year olds but it has undergone an upgrade to include activities for those aged up until the age of 11.

Colleens Fireworks

Never dull, this eResource is instantly appealing to kids and able to hold their attention as they move between free play to more structured learning. The interface can be worked by even very young children and older crusty adults such as myself.  When you now enter Busy Things you can select the most appropriate age group and then disappear into a huge range of entertaining, safe and educational activities. Headings range from English, Design and Technology, Geography, Food, Maths and Family and Community.

As you can see from the above poster of a Chinese fireworks display I constructed using Busy Things its possibilities are endless. Granted I am not artist, but I still had fun and used some pretty cool computer skills to get it to work! Try it with your little ‘uns today!

Colleen Busy screen

PressDisplay is dead. Long live PressReader!

Earlier this year we were told by our vendor Newspaper Direct that PressDisplay would be changing. Due to its popularity and the number of complaints we receive if there is even a small upset with this eResource we were all a bit terrified! The main market for PressDisplay though is not libraries but individual subscribers and business people who all require it to have a more mobile friendly interface which now sees the introduction of PressReader. Which thankfully has introduced a series of improvements.


PressReader still contains same day access to more than 2,000 newspapers and 500 magazines including The Press, The Listener and the New Zealand Women’s Weekly. The way these are displayed though is different and I encourage everyone to have a play with the new look. To fully enjoy all the benefits of PressReader – including the ability to customise what you see –  it is recommended that you set up your own account using your email address and a password.

You can also get 10 newspapers or magazines a day on your phone or tablet by downloading the PressReader app to read online or offline so you will never be short of reading material.

More information about what PressReader and its app can offer can be found on the PressReader about page

PressDisplay is evolving!

tablet and stack of newspapersThere can be no denying how popular PressDisplay is. Over 19,000 newspapers were read in June alone and if there is ever a delay from PressDisplay (based in Vancouver) in getting the latest edition of The Press up then the phones here at the library run hot with angst.

Like all things technical upgrades are necessary to keep pace with the environment around them. PressDisplay is no different and in the coming months will shed its old interface like a caterpillar sheds its cocoon to evolve into a butterfly or in this case PressReader. There will still be unlimited access to newspapers and magazines from around the World but PressReader will be much more mobile friendly and provide access to features like instant translation and social sharing.

You can even set up your own account and customize what you want to see when you first open it. Personally I have the local newspaper the Press set up as a favourite as well as the Southland Times and the magazine Healthy Food Guide. You also get to download publications for later reading online or offline so you will never be stuck for quality reading material again.

At the moment when entering PressDisplay you will have the option to either try PressReader or PressDisplay. Feel free to use this time to investigate the changes to come or even set up your own account. The permanent swap over from PressDisplay to PressReader will happen on the 30th of August.

You can also get a look at PressReader here

Press Reader electronic newspapers

Time Magazine Archive – for your busy reading pleasure!

ckey946016There are some magazines that are instantly recognisable. There is National Geographic with its bright yellow border and there is also Time Magazine with its bright red border that demands your attention. Time Magazine was the brainchild of two young journalists, Henry R. Luce and Briton Hadden. In 1923 they wanted to start a magazine that would be aimed at busy readers who sought a concise approach to news. (Apparently we were far too busy back then too!) They made sure the magazine’s format of short articles summarizing information and arranged in “departments” made for an informative yet systematic approach to the week’s news. Their efforts paid off and soon their concept became the standardised format that many other news magazines used.

Lucky for us we now have access to the fully searchable Time Magazine Archive dating back to its first issue in March 1923 through to December 2000. Capturing the relevant news for each week the magazine is an important research tool for every aspect of 20th-century history and life. Even better its content is available on Publications Finder as well as eResources Discovery Search (eDS). So if you search for say Barack Obama on eDS you will get a multitude of results from all our eResources as well as articles and images from Time Magazine. So it is an absolute gem for all forms of research and homework. Do have a look and a poke round.

1101350819_400Did you know?

The red border of Time has only changed four times since 1927 – a black border after the 9/11 attacks, a green border for an Earth day issue in 2008, a metallic border to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and silver in 2012 when Barack Obama was selected as Person of the Year.

Hits and misses with MyHeritage

I do dabble in family history research as I am fascinated by the names and stories that make up me. I am not alone as family history as a hobby is increasingly popular. There are dead ends, misleading entries and then – Bingo! –  a lead and you are off on the chase again.


Due to the popularity of family history research, big business has gotten involved and now most family history library edition eResources such as Ancestry and Find My Past are available in libraries only. This ensures the popularity of individual subscriptions for those who like to seek out new family branches from the comfort of home.

db-My-Heritage-CKEY879406There is though one exception to this rule and that is MyHeritage which is the only genealogical eResource libraries offer that can be accessed from home. By using MyHeritage you can see:

Census of England and Wales (1841-1901) and the USA federal census (1790-1940) with images;

1.5 billion exclusive family tree profiles;

Millions of cemetery headstones and historical photographs;

Government, land and court records including citizenship and naturalization records;

Wills and probate records.

I had a quick play recently and found myself rather taken aback on two levels. Firstly some of the family tree profiles were incorrect which annoyed the hell out of me – family trees can be submitted by any MyHeritage members. Secondly I found myself looking at pictures of my Great Grandfather and my Great Great Grandfather which I had never seen before. Family history research is full of hits and misses and MyHeritage is no exception. If you have yet to explore this new tool then please do. It may just provide the lead you need to progress your search.

Ready for the big guns? Time for eResources Discovery Search

Young-lady-sitting-on-the-floor-using-her-laptop-233x300When you have come to your senses and cast aside Wikipedia and Google in the quest for serious research solutions – then the library has what you require. The best research tool to start with is eResources Discovery Search or eDS for short. No matter how tight the deadline is this online treasure is available 24/7.

What makes it so great? Well it provides you with access to most of our eResource collection, articles, eBooks, journals, and photographs, through a single simultaneous search at a single access point. So with one search in one place you can search across huge swathes of information just like Google – but all of the information you find is authoritative and referenced without funny yet distracting cat videos.

For example what if you had to research Donald Trump? Put that name in eDS and these miraculous things happen …


Research starters – at the top of your search results there will be a “research starter” on Trump. There are starters for most topics which is useful if you want a starting point or a brief background.

To the left – tools to refine results to the most relevant. These include:

  • Publication date – maybe you only want articles from the last six months?
  • Source types – do you need a video, journal article or book on Trump?
  • Subject – are you interested in his talk shows or his political campaign?
  • Content providers – maybe you want a biography from Gale Biography in Context?

To the right – you get images, videos and newswires you can use or access the library catalogue. If you get stuck there is also Live Online to get you back on track.

Basically eDS is all you need in your answer arsenal and can be used anytime of the day but is most effective when you are really stressed and have a deadline looming. All you need to use this solution to all your research requirements is your library card number and password/PIN. Bookmark it now.

Hedgehog Blog


So last summer I was walking home minding my own business when I spotted a hedgehog looking rather still in the gutter. It was looking rather unhappy so I sprang into action and wrapped it up in my coat and took it home. Now what? Luckily for me there are a number of websites telling you how to look after a hedgehog so I wrapped my wee hog up warm and fed it crushed cat biscuits (they also like tinned cat and dog food as long as it is not fish based!) The cat was horrified but the hedgehog was stoked with its narrow and long tongue shooting out to pick up the biscuits and lap the water. While it ate, I had to marvel at how exceedingly cute it was despite the spikes designed to repel.

According to a fantastic New Zealand Geographic article For the love of Hedgehogs by Bob Brockie we can thank a Mr Cunningham from Merivale for our Christchurch hedgehog population as he imported 12 hedgehogs in exchange for 12 weka. The wee dears escaped from his pigeon house and the rest you could say is history. This article is just one of many in our New Zealand Geographic Archive which entertains as well as educates. I mean did you know that during hibernation lines form along the hedgehog’s jaw which enables the calculation of the hedgehog’s age, much like rings on a tree? Who knew!

So what happened to Harold the Hedgehog (you have to name them don’t you) in the end? Well I waited until it was dark and took Harold back to the area I found him and released him into the section of a house that has always irritated me as it looks like it is surrounded by jungle. This time its lack of proper gardening was very useful as the hedgehog now warmed, fed and watered scurried away. Good luck Harold (or Henrietta). I hope you are happy somewhere shuffling and snuffling around our gardens eating slugs.

A Murder in Time – Join OverDrive’s latest global eBook club – 23 June to 7 July

{C04E4869-9DB3-4EF4-B0C1-544EF1AD7EF8}Img400Big Library Read is back in town. This time the title is a little less controversial than American Sniper. OverDrive’s latest for you eBook lovers is A Murder in Time by Julie McElwain. It involves time travel, murder, a clever FBI agent, and the quest for justice and truth.  Sounds brilliant, and a bit exhausting! Luckily you will have from 23 June to 7 July to access this eBook. Borrow now!

If you are not sure of what the Big Library Read is then it is basically OverDrive, one of our eBook providers, making an eBook title available (without limitations) globally on its platform. So people in Dublin, New York and Brisbane are participating in this global eBook club at the same time as you are!

Big Library Read

Here’s a more complete summary of this Big Library Read title:

Kendra Donovan is a rising star at the FBI. Yet her path to professional success hits a speed bump during a disastrous raid where half her team is murdered, a mole in the FBI is uncovered and she herself is severely wounded. As soon as she recovers, she goes rogue and travels to England to assassinate the man responsible for the deaths of her teammates.

While fleeing from an unexpected assassin herself, Kendra escapes into a stairwell that promises sanctuary but when she stumbles out again, she is in the same place – Aldrich Castle – but in a different time: 1815, to be exact. Mistaken for a lady’s maid hired to help with weekend guests, Kendra is forced to quickly adapt to the time period until she can figure out how she got there; and, more importantly, how to get back home. However, after the body of a young girl is found on the extensive grounds of the county estate, she starts to feel there’s some purpose to her bizarre circumstances. Stripped of her twenty-first century tools, Kendra must use her wits alone in order to unmask a cunning madman.

If this eBook sounds like you, then pull up a comfy chair and download away – let yourself be filled with the joy of participating in the latest literary love-in.

The other two eBook platforms – Askews and Wheelers

4391492We are very lucky at Christchurch City Libraries to be blessed with a trinity of eBook platforms. OverDrive, Askews and Wheelers all have their own individual characters and strong points. OverDrive with its sheer size tends to take the bulk of our eBook market. This is probably not surprising considering it is our largest, oldest (introduced 2008!), and most familiar platform.

If you love your eBooks like me then please don’t forget that there are other options apart from OverDrive. Like two scrawny kids on the sidelines wanting to prove their worth to you Askews and Wheelers are waiting for their chance …

  • Askews: Britannia’s eBook collection with assorted British titles, authors and publishers. These titles are best enjoyed with a cup of tea and cucumber sandwiches while watching the polo. If you get nervous around horses and don’t like cucumber then a random couch with potato chips is just as useful.
  • 9781927262511Wheelers: As Kiwi as Billy T and just as entertaining with its New Zealand focused content and authors. It includes hundreds of titles including the West coast based mystery and Booker Prize winner The Luminaries and Dan Carter talking all about himself. I mean where else are you going to find a title like The Great Weta Robbery?

Remember size is not everything and these smaller gems can reveal a new world of literary content. All you will need is a library card number and password/PIN and a willingness to go off the eBook beaten track.

A new eGem: Crime, Punishment and Popular Culture, 1790-1920

CV3N7JrXIAAqTuzAnyone who is familiar with the works and times of Sherlock Holmes or Charles Dickens will recognize the culture and characters within our latest eResource archive, Crime, Punishment and Popular Culture, 1790-1920.

The industrial revolution had seen people rush to cities to chase a better standard of living that never eventuated. More often than not, workers were forced to live in squalid conditions with little reward for long and dangerous working conditions. Not surprisingly, crime soared. Throughout the 19th century major trials were followed avidly in the courtroom, in the newspapers, and at public hangings. True crime literature captured the attention of all classes, with murder ballads and penny dreadfuls sold in the streets. The development of the police force, particularly detectives and forensic techniques, were also subjects of interest. At the same time the judicial and penal systems were being reformed which led to such practices as transportation to the colonies.

This digital archive covers all of these developments and more with a broad examination of crime and culture in the 19th and early 20th century. It reflects the causes and effects of the rise in crime, the development of the police and the public’s fascination with sensational accounts of crime. It also contains a searchable collection of materials from prisoner photographs to trial transcripts and police records. It even has police gazettes from Queensland, Australia. These gazettes contain fascinating content including information on convicts and criminals who absconded from prison, reports on criminal activities such as murder, and reports on missing friends and relatives. So if you are interested in this time period, the development of the judicial system we can recognise today, or maybe just looking for dodgy relatives then there is plenty to learn and enjoy from this archival gem.