The dark side of libraries

CoverCan you imagine anything more terrifying than an evil librarian? Yeah, so can I…but that hasn’t stopped highly imaginative types speculating about the sinister mystery surrounding librarians.

“Don’t they shelve books..?” you hear people stammer. Yet somehow they know there’s much more to librarians than meets the eye. Something dark (navy perhaps, or maroon) that gives them a curious power over people and information (even while apparently limiting their fashion sense)…

There must be some subtle, frightful purpose. Why else would librarians sit silently in front of computer screens, waiting for weird and obscure questions (leading to dusty books and forgotten stacks) as if they actually found some absurd pleasure in hunting down and capturing singularly unusual bytes of knowledge.

(That doesn’t make much sense, but it expresses the puzzlement of the non-librarian.)

Alcatraz Smedry claims he knows just how evil librarians actually are. If you read his autobiography, he’ll tell you (among other things) about how he was about to be sacrificed on an altar of outdated encyclopedias, and…

But in the interests of self-preservation, I will say no more. You must take the risk of finding a copy of this dangerous book yourself…

This link may be able to help you

Librarians: more than you think…

CoverGood librarians. How quaint…

I bet you’re imagining quiet people dressed in cute floral overcoats (called “smocks” by the way), eating cheese and discussing whether Dewey really got it right…

Don’t be fooled! This is merely a cover, a ruse to make you think that’s all librarians do.

Want to know the truth? Well, I can’t tell you. It would mean your certain death (and no, not from boredom!)

But if you really want to delve into the danger, intrigue and utter ridiculousness of super librarians saving the world, start here…

Not just medicine – Dr Barker

Dr Alfred Charles Barker – one of those super talented people who took early Christchurch by storm… or rather by photography!

Barker came to New Zealand from England with his wife and children. As surgeon on the ship Charlotte Jane, he managed to get free passage out here plus a salary as on-board doctor.

After successfully practicing medicine in the Christchurch area, his attention turned to what was apparently his true passion – photography. With an artist’s perception and a doctor’s eye for detail, Barker gives valuable glimpses into the daily life of our city, as it was 150 years ago…

Alfred Charles Barker pictured with his trap

Austen fans spoilt for choice

Jane Austen has experienced great popularity in recent years. Since the 1990s there have been numerous takes on favourites such as Emma, Sense & Sensibility and of course Pride and Prejudice. But perhaps we should dub 2007 (the 190th anniversary of her death) the Year of Jane Austen’s Triumph:

The TV series Lost in Austen (2008) deftly captures the fascination the modern world has with Austen’s work; our genteel and romantic sensibilities are alive and well!

And what better way to spend an evening than in the delightfully diverting company of Austen’s heroines? We can cringe appreciatively when Lizzie encounters Mr Collins, tut over Catherine’s wild fancies at Northanger Abbey, and feel suitably embarrassed as Emma’s matchmaking goes awry!

As to version, there’s plenty of choice. Emma can be blond or dark-haired, if we watch the 1995 or 1996 versions respectively. And if we really want to, we can watch Jane & Lizzy in black and white (wearing large hoop skirts) in the 1940s classic. Enter Laurence Olivier as Darcy (woah!).

But there is soon to be a new twist coming to the screen. 

Continue reading

What could be better than reading a classic? …

Cover… Watching the film!

As part of my classics education growing up, I read Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo. It was an interesting enough story, but very old-fashioned and very French. That is to say, it was long, complicated and had an entirely unsatisfactory ending. Not my favourite story.

But then, I discovered the 2002 movie  (directed by Kevin Reynolds). Suddenly it wasn’t boring anymore. The movie is gripping and has a good plot without being confusing. Loose ends that used to bother me are tied together nicely to form a ‘proper’ ending.

Don’t get me wrong, the start of the book holds great promise. The hero, Edmond Dantes, is a personable but naively loyal young man, who is preyed upon by evil people and ends up imprisoned unjustly. Many years later, he escapes from prison with only one thought – revenge. Then begins an elaborate cat-and-mouse game of wills as Dantes works his way into the powerful circles of his enemies under the elusive title of the Count of Monte Cristo.

I don’t wish to downplay the art that went into writing it, but there are several points on which, in my opinion, it falls flat. One is the sheer number of sub-plots. I know who Edmond is, but who was the guy, who told the story about a band of ruffians, who abducted the sweetheart of a young man, who did something we can’t remember because it wasn’t actually part of the main plot in the first place?

However, it is the disappointing ending that is most unforgiveable. After exacting suitable revenge, the protagonist ends up being an older guy married to a beautiful young princess, whom he prefers to the ‘true love’ of his youth. He never quite recovers from the wrongs done to him, and finally just runs away from it all. His once true love is left widowed and miserable during the final scenes, which leaves a rather bad taste in the mouth.

Conversely, the movie – of course employing some artistic licence – takes all the grand schemes and themes of the book and cleverly ties them together. It also includes a well deserved happy ending. Jim Caviezel plays an excellent naive-then-vengeful Dantes, who in the end lets go of his bitterness, is redeemed and reunited with his true love. The baddies are varied and convincing, with Guy Pearce as the charismatic but treacherous Fernand Mondego. There is a good amount of action, epic themes, tasteful humour and a touch of romance. What more could one want in a film?

Willing to give Monte Cristo a chance? Find a copy of the book or movie in our library catalogue.

Seen a movie that knocks the socks off the book? Tell us about your favourite book-to-movie adaptations! Need inspiration? Check out the library’s page on Books into film & television. More film stuff on our Film webpage and Read the Book — then see the film.

Work that skirt!

Search our library catalogue for books on fashion sewing

Skirts are great things to wear. Want to have some fun? Try a skirt binge!

When you’re feeling low, ungraceful or bored, just put on a wacky skirt with crazy colours (or an elegant skirt you would wear out) and feel the transformation! In summer, when you’re seriously considering moving to Antarctica, try wearing that light muslin skirt you bought years ago.

If you’re tired of wearing track pants (again!) find a skirt that’ll brighten your day.

Where do you buy interesting and amazing skirts for all seasons? In second hand clothing stores. It’s amazing what other people have cast off. Go have a look – rummage through some skirts. Many won’t suit you, but don’t be discouraged! It’s surprising what can look good with your vibrant green striped top. Find a skirt that’s burnt-orange and try it on. Alternatively, take a navy blue mini-skirt with red polka dots and just savour the effect!

If you’re feeling super motivated and enthusiastic, take your pick of the library’s books on sewing. Find some old material and take time-out to make a funky skirt. Need ideas? Check our recommended Fashion sites.

Skirts are there to be enjoyed – go crazy!

Have a favourite skirt you love to wear? Ever found a winner in a dusty op-shop? Tell us your skirt stories.