Flash me that fiction – Friday 22 June

National Flash Fiction Day is on Friday 22 June.

Here are the details for the Christchurch event Flash in the Pan:

Come along and celebrate the smallest fictions on the shortest day. National Flash Fiction Day! Flash in the Pan is a FREE event to celebrate all things flash and brings together Canterbury’s best flash fiction writers for an unexpected literary evening and award presentations.

  • When: 6pm to 8pm Friday 22 June 2018
  • Where: Space Academy, 371 St Asaph Street
  • What: Flash fiction readings, competition announcements, beer on tap and spot prizes from Scorpio Books and the University Bookshop
  • Subscribe to the Flash in the Pan Facebook event.

What is flash fiction? Well, as defined by the Collins English online dictionary, flash fiction is “a genre of fiction in which stories are characterized by extreme brevity.”

So in short; a short, short story.

I refused to read short stories growing up. I felt cheated. They didn’t count. Could only be explained through sheer laziness on the author’s part. I now understand the unique challenge they pose: how each word must be weighed with the gravest importance, each sentence propelling the narrative forward. No easy feat does it present. When words are scarce, each one must prove its value, must hint at something beyond what appears on the surface.

For the past seven years, New Zealand has celebrated flash fiction through an annual competition, culminating in New Zealand Flash Fiction Day (NZFFD). There are three categories you can enter: adult, youth and Te Reo Māori. If you were hoping to throw your writing skills in the ring this year you’re out of luck as competition entries ran February through April…but despair not, for that leaves nine months to motivate yourself for next year’s competition. In 2017 there were 404 adult competition entries – sounds migraine inducing for those on the judging panel – though entries for the NZFFD competition are limited to a rather manageable 300 words. Tempted? You can read winning entries from previous years online, or even attend the Christchurch Flash Fiction event next week.

My research into flash fiction has, if anything, further muddied the waters as nobody can seem to agree upon the preferred word count (or indeed the very name) of flash fiction. Varying wildly dependent on who is asked, word counts range from the modest six word variety made famous by Ernest Hemingway to the decidedly more generous 1500 limit. Last year, 25-word flash fiction was publicised by The New Yorker, appearing in the “Summer of Flash Fiction” series. The term of Flash Fiction has adopted many different guises also: there is, for instance, the intriguing sounding “twitterature,” and of course the commonly referred to “short story.”

But at the end of the day, short and sweet is what Flash Fiction day (incidentally, held on the shortest day of the year) is all about.

Here I have gathered together some of Christchurch City Libraries’ short story/flash fiction collection – or whatever you want to call it – for your perusal.

View Full List

Check out more stories of the short variety on our catalogue.

If you are looking to develop your own skills as a writer- or if, like me, you have zero visual art skills and simply find writing to be a nice alternative, therapeutic and creative endeavour – Linwood Library host a Creative Writing group weekly on a Wednesday. You’ll also find guides and inspiration on our catalogue, and check out our page on writing for tips, competitions and courses.

There are many more classes and programmes in your community, some of them free, some with a cost. For further information, see CINCH: Community Information Christchurch for programming in your wider community.

Armageddon is coming…next week!

This year the masses will descend on Horncastle Arena for the annual Armageddon convention on the weekend of 2-4 June. The 4th of June being, conveniently, Queen’s Birthday holiday.

I myself have attended Armageddon religiously since 2012, after discovering that an actor from one of my then (still) favorite television shows would be in attendance. Last year I somewhat satiated my Tolkien obsession and obtained Pippin’s [Billy Boyd’s] signature on my beautifully illustrated yet dog-eared copy of ‘The Lord of the Rings.’ Other highlights include spending my hard-earned money on a replica Evenstar and discovering the stall that sells moonshine in hipster-ish mason-style jars. Does this still exist? Where was it last year? ;-(

Not much has changed. Still a shameless fan girl.

Because I get excited about these things, in preparation I will be wading through several of my favourite Armageddon-worthy television shows over the coming weekends: check out our catalogue for inspiration, and for my top picks.

And if you have a lot of time on your hands…check out these books:

Armageddon 2018- Must Reads

Cover of A Game of Thrones by George R. R. MartinA Game of Thrones – George Martin’s epic fantasy is intimidating to say the least, but well worth the time. Pick it up now and you just might get through it before the long-awaited Season 8 is released.

Supernatural – Ah, Dean and Sam. Sam and Dean. The excellent chemistry between the two lead actors carried me through a whooping 13 seasons of the TV show, but this fan-fiction is helping with my withdrawals somewhat.

Cover of Epic cosplay costumesEpic Cosplay Costumes – Who doesn’t love a good dress up…and the chance to upstage all the other Armageddon-goers.

Star Trek – Star Trek 101. Visually stunning effort by DK. If not the most comprehensive of guides, a great intro to the world of Star Trek for budding fans!

View Full List

Photos from our Collection

For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of attending an Armageddon convention before, here is some of what you’ve been missing out on:

Three Furry Creatures. File reference: 2015-03-13-DSC00749
Pop culture baby onesies
Little nerds in the making. File reference: 2015-03-07-IMG_6159.
Pinhead cosplayer
A Pinhead Looking for Action. File reference: 2015-03-07-IMG_6156.

See more photos from Armageddon’s gone by

Youth Week events at Shirley Library

For all you gamers and budding artists out there, in honour of Youth Week we are putting on some exciting events at Shirley Library. Come along to our Playstation Tournament this Friday to WIN great prizes, and get in on this Drawing and Visual Storytelling Workshop, hosted by comic illustrator/fantasy artist Ryan Green, this Saturday.

So back to Armageddon. I’ll be there, rubbing shoulders with the sweaty rabble and hoping for a glimpse of a certain someone who may have rubbed shoulders with a certain Jon Snow.

Will you be dressing up this year? See you there 🙂

Celebrating Techweek 2018

The annual Techweek festival is here come 19-27th May, and it’s all about celebrating innovative New Zealand technology. Featuring 400 events nationwide, many Techweek events are happening in Christchurch and Christchurch City Libraries have partnered up with Code Club Aotearoa to bring the Creative Coding Minecraft Competition

Find out more about what’s happening locally.

Highlights of Techweek 2018 in Christchurch include:

Libraries and technology have walked hand in hand into the 21st Century, and Christchurch City Libraries’ own imminent new central library, Tūranga, is a flagship, paving the way with the latest in new technology (though there’ll still be plenty of that older technology known as “books”). When Tūranga opens later this year visitors will be greeted with the largest interactive touch wall in New Zealand, spanning a colossal seven metres! That would look very nice on my living room wall (if it would fit). Other Tūranga technologies in the works include:

  • Virtual Reality
  • Laser Cutters
  • 3D Printing
  • Video Editing
  • Robotics technology
Visitors to Tūranga will be able to swipe their way through a virtual world of information.

Many of these technologies can already be experienced in our libraries and learning centres.  Kids need something to do after school, and learn something in the process? Something in the wings that you’ve always wanted to get 3D printed? Or just need help getting the those photos backed up onto Google drive? Christchurch City Libraries have loads of technology-oriented after school clubs and classes for kids and adults, whether your needs are beginner or advanced!

Plus find out about how you can access 3D modelling tuition, software and print your own 3D designs at the library!

Check out our catalogue to find the latest material on computer programming, robotics, maker space and more

Cover of Kids get codingCover of Build your own robotsCover of Maker spaceCover of Robotics for young children

Find out more about Techweek 2018 >

The timeless tradition of nearly forgetting Mother’s Day

The second Sunday of May. Or, this year, Sunday 13th May. A day which – much like birthdays and anniversaries – I usually forget until the last dire minute. Cue me rushing through the mall right before it shuts trying to find a gift both thoughtful and needed. A thing which, by the way, doesn’t exist when you’re looking for it.

The history of mother’s day can be traced back to its ancient roots. Spring celebrations in ancient Greece honoured Rhea, the mother of the gods, with offerings of honey-cakes, drinks and flowers. The ancient Romans celebrated their mother of the gods too – Cybele, or Magna Mater, ‘Great Mother.’ They built her a temple in Rome and over several days during the March equinox, the festival of Hilaria was held in her honour. Even the ancient Egyptians held their own annual festival in celebration of the goddess Isis – she being revered as the mother of Pharos and a divine symbol of motherhood.

In a more modern age, mothering Sunday in the UK (the fourth Sunday of Lent) became a day where workers could take time off to visit their mothers; and in the United States a woman named Anna Jarvis is credited with beginning Mother’s Day there from 1908, following the death of her own mother. (Find out more about the history of Mother’s Day at The Legacy Project)

These days, we don’t so much bother with honey cakes and the lighting of the ceremonial fires, but Christchurch City Libraries do have a wealth of material, images and resources to help us celebrate mother’s day the way it should be (with a good book).

We could start with this handy Staff Pickles list, along with some of my top picks:

Cover of Five forget Mother's DayCover of MiracleCover of MothersCover of Mother's Day on Coronation StCover of Mother's and Father's day treats

Here are some photos from Christchurch City Libraries’ digital collection of mothers being mothers in times past and present.

How were many Cantabrians celebrating mother’s day in 1984 you ask? By joining in a nuclear free parade, of course: 

Nuclear free parade, Akaroa, Mothers Day, 1984 from Kete Christchurch. Entry in the 2009 & 2014 Christchurch City Libraries Photo Hunt by Jan Shuttleworth. Licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 NZ

And you thought that our Babytimes could get crowded:

Mothers and babies gathered outside St. Helen’s Hospital, Sydenham [1909]. File Reference CCL PhotoCD 2, IMG0075
Adorable family standing in front of the United Services Hotel in the square: 

Mother and Daughters in Cathedral Square (early 1940’s). File reference: HW-08-CE-018. From Flickr.

On a final note, it can be observed that in our busy lives we often neglect to make time for ourselves. Could this be any truer than for the busy mother? Enter All Right? who have brought us a fresh new idea in the form of these popular downtime dice, to remind us to take time out for ourselves. Downtime dice can be nabbed (free!) in libraries, but get in quick – they’re going fast! Check out their website for ideas about downtime activities.

Wishing you a Happy Mother’s Day!

The joy of Christmas food

Christmas to me means many things. Food, classical music, family and friends, frantic gift shopping and many consecutive days off work.

Food commands a great deal of consideration on Christmas day. It brings people together and will become a part of your Christmas memories. In years to come you may still be reminiscing over mother’s legendary Christmas turkey come December. Whether a BBQ at the beach, a big family dinner at home or a picnic in the gardens, the nostalgic properties of food are seldom more potent than at Christmastime.

Christmas Dinner 1962. Image from Flickr. File Reference: HWC08-UR-027.

When I was younger Christmas meant scoffing the chocolate from our Christmas stockings by noon. A mid-afternoon smorgasbord of breads, crackers and brie with dips, and finally moving on to whatever fattening banquet my mother had concocted for dinner. Common items included macaroni and cheese, garlic bread, potatoes in various forms, bacon and egg pie, salads piled high with eggs and leafy greens… sparkling grape juice for the children. Everyone was there.

This year, my siblings and I have grown up and we have our own Christmas plans. I’ll spend my first Christmas with my soon to be in-laws. I’ll bring a huge dish of macaroni and cheese and a more grown-up form of sparkling grape juice. They key elements will be there: family, good food and this time, I’ll be helping out in the kitchen. The men can clean up though.

The library has plenty of new and old Christmas Cooking titles to explore:

Cover of Cute Christmas cookiescover of Christmas: The complete collectionCover of Nigella ChristmasCover of Christmas cooking

You can flick through the digital Christmas issue of your favourite magazine through RBDigital Magazines or PressReader. Good ones to look out for include:

Cover of Recipes+Cover of FoodCover of good foodCover of Super food ideas

There are also lots of Christmas events happening this month at libraries around Christchurch.

And finally, I couldn’t help but include some cute photos of Archie in his Christmas best.

Archie the Reindeer
Santa’s Little Helper

What dish do you just have to make every year come Christmas?

Ballantynes’ Fire 70th Anniversary – 18 November 2017

About 70 years ago, on 18 November 1947, should you have been wandering down Cashel Street towards Colombo shortly before four in the afternoon, you would have seen a strange sight: Ballantynes co-owner, Kenneth Ballantyne, climbing down the parapet of his storefront. Flames all around him, he is the last to escape the Ballantynes’ fire with his life.

41 other people were not so lucky.

Rescuing Mr. Ballantyne from the Burning Building on Colombo Street, Christchurch. CCL PhotoCD 1, IMG0018.
Rescuing Mr. Ballantyne from the Burning Building on Colombo Street, Christchurch. CCL PhotoCD 1, IMG0018.

This Saturday will mark the 70th anniversary of the Ballantynes’ fire. If you would like to learn more about the tragic sequence of events that unfolded in 1947, Christchurch City Libraries has a digital heritage resource containing transcripts and images, among other resources, to help you paint a picture.

Firemen at Ballantynes Fire 1947. Kete Christchurch. PH14-001.jpg Creative Commons License

Photos are our glimpses of the past, and you can browse spectacular photographs taken of the Ballantynes’ fire through the following sources:

Aerial View of the Gutted Shell of the Three-Storied Department Building. CCL PhotoCD 1, IMG0016.
Aerial View of the gutted shell of the three-storied department building. CCL PhotoCD 1, IMG0016.
Battling the Flames: Tense Firemen in Action. CCL PhotoCD 1, IMG0017.

More resources about the Ballantynes’ Fire

Neighbourhood Week 2017/18

Neighbourhood week is here! 27th October to 31st March 2018. Yes, you read that correctly. This year neighbourhood week is extended for the entire summer.

Do you know who your neighbours are? I don’t know mine as well as I should like. Neighbourly relations are important yet I have, for the most part, lived according to the wise words of Robert Frost:

“Good fences make good neighbours.”

I often come home to find my cat peering out from the neighbour’s bedroom window. If he’s living the double life over there, perhaps it’s time I followed suit and got to know them better. The only thing we may share in common is a boundary fence, but chances are they will be lovely, decent and hardworking people.

Thankfully, there are plans and resources to help us all get into the neighbourly spirit this summer. As part of the ongoing effort to help people connect in with their neighbours and strengthen community foundations, a small fund has been allotted by the Christchurch City Council Community Boards to help out with the planning and running of local events. Through this, you can register a neighbourhood event of your own and receive a small grant to go towards a fun event for you local neighbours and community this summer. Look now, an excellent excuse to throw a party! How could you refuse?

You can also check out our website and events calendar – Christchurch City Libraries events are always a great way to meet new people, socialise with your locals and build connections. Things to look out for include:

What exciting events have you got planned for Neighbourhood Week?

Reading in Mind for Mental Health

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week (9-15 October).

The 2012/13 New Zealand Health Survey reported that one in every six New Zealanders have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder at a point in their lives. The report also highlights a link between mental illness and poor physical health: mental disorders are the third highest cause of health loss in New Zealand. Chances are, you or someone you know has suffered from mental illness at some stage.

There is a wealth of information out there on mental health. It can be difficult to separate the good advice from the bad, the relevant from the not so.

With this in mind, a team of health professionals and librarians have created the Reading in Mind scheme. The scheme has sprung from a partnership between Pegasus Health, Christchurch City Libraries, the Mental Health Education Resource Centre and HealthInfo Canterbury/Waitaha.

Cover of Anxious kids, anxious parentsCover of Coping with Obsessive-Compulsive disorderCover of The mindful way through anxietyCover of Anger management for everyoneCover of We need to talk about griefCover of When someone you love is addicted to alcohol or drugs

The Reading in Mind scheme promotes the many benefits of reading for health and well-being, and really takes the hassle and doubt of choosing reading material for mental health issues. The scheme suggests a wide range of resources – including books, audiobooks and eBooks – on various topics including alcoholism, grief and divorce. Whilst nothing can replace the sound advice from your doctor or health care professional, it is a resource which can be used to assist with managing and treating mild to moderate mental health disorders. It is suitable for all ages and backgrounds.

Browse the Reading in Mind lists on the library catalogue.

Get active and make the most of the warmer weather with sports and activities, clubs for older adults and walks in and around Christchurch.

Here are some other health related resources to check out:

Images of Christmas: Then and Now

A picture is worth a thousand words and there are few things more mesmerising than that tradition of perusing old photograph albums.

Car Float and Rollerskates, c. 1970
Christmas Parade: Car Float and Rollerskates, c. 1970 File Reference CCL Img ARCH812-49

As Hal Boyle (1971) put it:

Memory is more than a dustbin of time, stuffed with yesterday’s trash. Rather, memory is a glorious grab at the past from which one can at leisure pluck bittersweet experiences of times gone by and relive them.

Christchurch City Libraries has a wealth of digitised photography, and who doesn’t like a good trip down memory lane?

New Zealanders have been celebrating Christmas in style and with flair for many moons, so in the spirit of the season, here are some highlights from our Christmas Images collection:

Father Christmas delights Cantabrians whether arriving in his old fashioned automobile or in his blow up dinghy:

Father Christmas visits Heathcote Valley School
Father Christmas visits Heathcote Valley School. Gimblett-0011.
Santa arrives on New Brighton beach, 12/12/015.
Santa arrives on New Brighton beach, 12/12/015. 2015-12-12-IMG_1509.

 

The fashion phenomenon of the onesie goes way back:

Red Riding Hood Wolf: Hay's Ltd Christmas Pageant, c. 1950
Red Riding Hood Wolf: Hay’s Ltd Christmas Pageant, c. 1950. CCL-Arch978-1-019.

 

They dressed up for the occasion:

Christmas Trees at Hay's Christmas Parade, c. 1970.
Christmas Trees at Hay’s Christmas Parade, c. 1970. CCL Img ARCH812-68.
New Brighton Santa Parade. 12/12/2015.
New Brighton Santa Parade. 12/12/2015. File reference: 2015-12-12-IMG_1553.

The tradition of the Christmas Parade in Christchurch began in the 1930’s with T.J Armstrong & Co. Then around 1947, the Christchurch Santa Parade was launched by retailer James Hay. Hay’s Christmas Parade was immensely popular with children and families:

Father Christmas on T.J Armstrong & Co's Christmas Float
Father Christmas on T.J Armstrong & Co’s Christmas Float, c. 1930. CCL PhotoCD 16, IMG0054.
Santa Float at Hay's Christmas Parade, 1970's. CCL Img ARCH812-27.
Santa Float at Hay’s Christmas Parade, 1970’s. CCL Img ARCH812-27.

Today, the custom continues:

Where to go to find more Christmas Images?

  • Christchurch City Libraries’ Christmas Images page.
  • Kete Christchurch have collections of the New Brighton Christmas Parade and more.
  • DigitalNZ have compiled an assortment of images from Santa Parades around the country.
A Christmas parade passes along Colombo Street, Christchurch c. 1930. CCL PhotoCD 17, IMG0001.
A Christmas parade passes along Colombo Street, Christchurch
c. 1930. CCL PhotoCD 17, IMG0001.

Festive Food for the Holiday Season

It’s approaching that time of year. After slaving away at the gym all winter long, desperate to shave those extra pounds for summer, the season of overeating is descending upon us.

Christmas Dinner, 1962.
Christmas Dinner, 1962 by KeteScape is licensed under a CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 NZ License

The matter is not helped by the vast assortment of Christmas cooking books flying onto the shelves. Check out some of our latest Christmas entertaining and recipe books, guaranteed to convert the most headstrong Grinch among us:

homemade-christmas jamie-olivers-christmas-cookbook seasont-eatings womens-weekly-christmas hairy-bikers-12-days-of-christmas

Find more Christmas cookery in our catalogue.

Search our databases and eResources for further inspiration and turn your kitchen into a frenzy of festivity this December:

What mouth-watering, diet-shattering Christmas treats will you be dishing up this holiday season?