Podcast – Youth suicide

Speak Up Kōrerotia logoChristchurch City Libraries blog hosts a series of regular podcasts from New Zealand’s only specialist human rights radio show Speak up – Kōrerotia. This show is created by Sally Carlton.

The latest episode deals with youth suicide. New Zealand has high rates of youth suicide, especially among Māori and Pasifika populations.

  • Part I: Sir Peter Gluckman (Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor)
    Youth suicide statistics in NZ and elsewhere; possible reasons; the importance of providing supportive contexts for young people.
  • Parts II and III: Jackie Burrows and Tanith Petersen (He Waka Tapu) and Wesley Mauafu (PYLAT – Pacific Youth Leadership and Transformation). Possible reasons; situation among different ethnic groups; situation in post-earthquake Christchurch and Elements for youth suicide prevention initiatives – sport, music, support, etc.

Transcript of the audio

Find out more

Cover of Suicide awareness and preventioncover of Spin by Dylan Horrocks Cover of Y do u h8 me Cover of Breaking the silence Cover of Sorrows of a century Cover The Roaring Silence A Compendium of Interviews, Essays, Poetry, Art and Prose About Suicide Cover of Twelve Thousand hours Cover of After the Suicide of Someone You Know Information and Support for Young People Cover A Practical Guide to Working With Suicidal Youth Cover of Alcohol information for teens

More about Speak up – Kōrerotia

The show is also available on the following platforms:

NBA playoffs time

If you are an avid basketball fan you will know that it is playoffs time. I am extra excited because I am a Celtics fan (Boston Celtics), and they are playing Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern conference playoffs. Unfortunately Steve Adams’ team (Oklahoma City Thunders) didn’t make the Western conference playoffs this year so you can’t watch the long-haired Kiwi play, but you can read his book. There are plenty of other basketball related material, from books to eAudiobooks, streaming video, eBooks and stuff for kids. Check out this list:

Basketball – NBA playoffs

List created by Simone_CCL

Read, watch and listen about basketball check out this list of basketball related material, something read, watch or listen to. Even something for the junior b-ball fans.

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Remembering Tom Wolfe – a personal view

It is, of course, with much sadness that I heard about the recent death of Tom Wolfe, who was without doubt a towering figure in literary circles for most of the second half of 20th century. Along with people like Hunter S. Thompson, and several other (mostly male) American writers of his generation, he turned journalism into literature, to be read for pleasure, inventing in the process a new kind of non-fiction and influencing generations of authors whose work I have been enjoying ever since. But for me, Tom Wolfe’s legacy is a decidedly mixed one.

CoverIn my youth, I loved the vivid, day-glo prose of his psychedelic classic, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. As a window onto a world I knew very little about it was one of those books that broadened my horizons and helped me become aware that there are many more ways to live a life than my rather conventional upbringing had prepared me for. Another favourite was The Right Stuff, about the Mercury Seven astronauts, arguably the real pioneers of manned spaceflight (at least in the Western hemisphere), among the very first to venture off-planet, and lone-travellers in their single-seat capsules. It wasn’t just the incredible tales of the astronauts themselves that I enjoyed, but also the stories of those around them, their girlfriends, wives, and families, and the ground crew that supported them, which made the space race feel, to me at least, like a crazy mad adventure that (unlike the trips of Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters described in “…Acid Test”) everyone could buy into – at least that’s how I felt at the time – and it helped to fuel my life-long interest in science and technology.

CoverWhen I was a bit older I read, and thoroughly enjoyed, From Bauhaus to Our House, Wolfe’s searing critique of the worst excesses of modernist architecture. It was bitingly funny and satirical, but actually, I gradually realised, I quite liked a lot of the buildings Wolfe was ridiculing. Although I was with him in his disdain for the cynical manipulation of public taste by those in power, which he so expertly took down, was I simultaneously allowing myself to be manipulated perhaps? Nevertheless, I thought I saw a conservatism coming through in his writing that I hadn’t noticed before and it didn’t sit well with me, which might be why I stopped reading his books after that. It wasn’t a deliberate, or even conscious, turning away, it was just that there were always other things I wanted to read more. So, I never read any of his fiction, which came later in his career, or the books he is now perhaps most lauded for, such as Bonfire of the Vanities. Wolfe’s right-wing credentials were confirmed when he came out as a supporter of George W. Bush, but I think his politics were more complicated and nuanced than this might suggest, and the claim that he was a racist because of derogatory remarks he made about the Black Panther Party in his book Radical Chic, in which he mocked all manner of left-wing intellectuals, are, I think, overstated; above all it seems he was a contrarian who delighted in taking an opposing view to whatever appeared to be the zeitgeist at the time.

CoverAs someone who has spent much of my adult life as an academic working in the field of evolutionary biology, for me, the last straw came with his book The Kingdom of Speech, which was strongly critical of Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution by natural selection, the cornerstone of modern biology. I haven’t read this book, so perhaps I shouldn’t comment on it, but I remember the furore it caused at the time of its publication for its anti-Darwinian stance. Some biologists saw value in Wolfe’s critique, not I think of Darwin as biologist, but of the way his ideas have sometimes been applied outside biology, but for most I think the feeling was something like ‘How dare this hack, without any formal training in biology, take on one of our most treasured icons?’. But of course, daring iconoclasm was what Tom Wolfe was all about, and he was well-versed in evolutionary theory, although for me at the time this felt like a step too far.

For these, and other reasons (like his affected style in later life of wearing white suits and carrying elaborately carved wooden canes – a harmless eccentricity perhaps, but one I found off-putting), I have been ambivalent about re-reading Wolfe’s books, or filling in the gaps, but his death has led me to reconsider. The other day I pulled “…Acid Test” off the shelf, and the first few pages immediately brought back the excitement I felt reading it for the first time all those years ago, so I think I will finish it. I’m not a big re-reader of books, but I think there are things in it that I will see quite differently this time. For example, in the opening scene, one of the hippies in the back of the van hurtling through the streets of San Francisco to meet Ken Kesey after his release from prison is none other than the environmentalist Stewart Brand. I wouldn’t have known who he was when I first read the book, but since then I have read some of Brand’s own books, and followed his more recent enthusiasm for de-extinction (another controversial topic, which I will perhaps re-visit in another blog). I think there’s a good argument to be made that “…Acid Test” is a modern classic that should be widely read. I’m not so sure about “The Right Stuff”, which I don’t intend to read again. I don’t think Wolfe’s glorification of the test pilots, turned early astronauts, and their male-dominated world would seem so appealing to me this time round, and in any case, since then I’ve read lots of other books on the subject that I would far rather read again (again, a subject for another blog). I’m not sure about re-reading “Our House to Bauhaus”, and it’s not a field I’ve continued to follow or read many other books about, but for satirical bite I think I might try The Painted Word, which I haven’t read before, but is on a similar topic and of a similar vintage. As for the fiction, I think I might leave that for my retirement.

In the end, my remembered fondness for Wolfe’s early books must trump my reservations about his later work. Despite his flaws, I think my reading life has been significantly enriched by my encounters with Wolfe’s writing and those he influenced, and for that I am very grateful.

Farewell Tom, and thank you!

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Find Tom Wolfe’s works in our collection.

National Simultaneous Storytime – Hickory Dickory Dash, Wednesday 23 May 1pm

14 of our libraries here in Christchurch are hosting National Simultaneous Storytime tomorrow  – Wednesday 23 May – at 1pm. You are welcome to come and join in – our librarians will be reading Hickory Dickory Dash by Tony Wilson, illustrated by Laura Wood, and published by Scholastic.

Here are our library staff having a test read:

National Simultaneous Storytime (NSS) is held annually by the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA). Every year a picture book, written and illustrated by an Australian author and illustrator, is read simultaneously in libraries, schools, preschools, childcare centres, family homes, bookshops and many other places. This year is the first time New Zealand has joined in, thanks to LIANZA (Library and Information Association of New Zealand).

Check out more cool vids courtesy of the National Simultaneous Storytimes crew.

 

Cavell Leitch New Zealand International Jazz and Blues Festival 2018

Frosty mornings, the threat of snow, and midwinter blues might be a couple of months away yet, but Christchurch is about to be hit by a different type of blues when the Cavell Leitch New Zealand International Jazz & Blues Festival comes to town later this week (May 23-27).

Returning to the city for its twenty-third year, this festival is a treat for lovers of jazz and blues, and offers a range of experiences showcasing local and international talent, and up-and-coming stars to watch out for in the future. Here are a couple that really stand out to me.

Kurt Elling, Grammy Award-winner and 8-times winner of the Jazz Journalists Association’s ‘Male Singer of the Year’ title, is headlining the festival, playing with the Kurt Elling Quintet at the Piano on Saturday, May 26. His is a voice that is an absolute pleasure to listen to, and with the backing of a live quintet, this is sure to be a magical evening.

Listen to Kurt Elling’s music in our collection (includes streaming music as well as CDs)

Whenever I think of jazz and blues, Billie Holiday is one of the first names I think of. Although we won’t be graced by the great singer herself, we will be able to experience the power of her repertoire when Mary Coughlan sings Billie Holiday in two concerts at The Piano on Wednesday 23 May. This show was first performed in Christchurch at the Jazz & Blues Festival fifteen years ago, and I’m hoping I get to it this time around – I was trying to decide whether to go see it back then, and didn’t, and have been kicking myself ever since.

Listen to Mary Coughlan’s music in our collection. 
Listen to Billie Holiday’s music in our collection (includes streaming music as well as CDs)

Having played clarinet when I was younger, I have always enjoyed hearing what Kiwi Nathan Haines has been up to in the music world, and am excited to see him here in Christchurch with Jonathan Crayford. With violin accompaniment, this duo will be reinterpreting the works of well-known classical composers to fit the jazz and blues style of the festival. Both Haines and Crayford have won the Best Jazz Album of the Year award here in New Zealand, and with this amount of skill on the stage I am really excited to see what they create.

Listen to music by Nathan Haines in our collection.
Listen to music by Jonathan Crayford in our collection. 

Of course, all the big names need to start somewhere, and the Jazz & Blues Festival supports these young up-and-comers and Christchurch locals. Georgie Clifford and Alice Tanner are two such ‘noteable young women’, and Christchurch local Kate Taylor, front-woman of the All-Girl Big Band, is also one to watch. On the festival’s last day, five Christchurch high schools will show off their jazz skills in the Festival High School Jazz Band Concert at Christchurch Boys High School on Sunday 27 May.

For something a little different, join chef Richard Till and local band The Eastern for an evening of Southern Fried Chicken and music at the Lyttelton Arts Factory on Friday 25 May and Saturday 26 May.

As you see, with so many different artists on the programme, there really will be something for everyone. I recommend getting your tickets now so that you don’t miss out on this wonderful musical experience. And, once the festival’s over, check out our jazz and blues resources to stay in the swing of things.

Jazz and blues in our collection

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Jazz and blues eResources

Naxos Music Library Jazz streams over 9000 jazz albums, from jazz legends to contemporary jazz. It covers a wide range of jazz music with recordings from over 32,000 artists. Labels include Blue Note, Warner Jazz, EMI, Enja, Fantasy and more. New albums are added weekly.

Jazz Music Library includes material from Concord Records, including New Zealand pianist Alan Broadbent, major jazz figures such as Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, Louis Armstrong, Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington, Glenn Miller, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie and more. There are also recent jazz figures such as Diana Krall, Esperanza Spalding, and even Michael Bolton singing Sinatra standards! The collection includes works licensed from legendary record labels, including Audiophile, Blue Note, Concord Jazz, Jazzology, Milestone, Nessa Records, Original Jazz Classics, Pablo, and Prestige. Also included are Marian McPartland’s Peabody Award winning Piano Jazz Radio Broadcasts and never before released performances from the Monterey Jazz Festival and great jazz venues. Jazz Music Library is part of Music Online: Listening Plus.

American Song provides online access to over 100,000 tracks from  every genre and music period of American history.

The world’s most expensive piece of paper

Long before I was born, my dad worked briefly for a firm of a stamp auctioneers in London. Apparently he helped, in some small way, to sell King Farouk of Egypt‘s stamp collection! He had a small collection of his own and he used to take me to stamp fairs, mostly I think to catch up with old friends. For me, it wasn’t so much the stamps I found appealing as the people who collected them, who seemed an unusually obsessive bunch with their own arcane rules, jargon, and preoccupations that appeared baffling from the outside.

Cover of The one cent magenta by James BarronI was therefore delighted to discover, in the Library’s catalogue, a book called “The One-Cent Magenta: Inside the Quest to Own the Most Valuable Stamp in the World” by James Barron, which is full of stories of people like those I remember.

This book tells the extraordinary tale of a single stamp, the only one of its kind, as it changed hands and rapidly increased in value with each new owner over it’s 150 year history. (The title of each chapter reflects the stamp’s value at that point in the story.)

The stamp in question is really just a tiny scrap of coloured paper bearing an almost indiscernible design. It was printed quickly in what was then British Guiana (now Guyana) to replace some stamps that had gone missing on their way from London. As stamps of this value (unlike the more common four-cent stamp that was also printed at the time) were mostly used for newspapers and magazines, almost all of the them were thrown away when they were finished with, but miraculously a single stamp survived and was rediscovered some years later in 1873 by a 12 year-old boy among papers in his uncle’s house.

After a number of changes of ownership, that stamp eventually sold at auction in 2014 for the astonishing sum of US$9.5 million (about NZ$13.5 million) – more than a billion times it’s original value! At just 2.5cm x 3.2 cm that means each square millimetre is worth nearly NZ$170, making it the world’s most valuable object for its size and weight.

British Guiana 1c stamp issued in 1856. Last sold for NZ$13.5 million. (Public Domain image from Wikipedia)

The reasons why someone would pay such an inordinate sum of money for something with no real material value, and why some very rich people find extreme rarity of this kind so irresistible, is the central question explored in this book. It would be tempting to consider these people crazy, but they all made excellent returns on their investments, and future owners will continue to do so as long as the stamp remains so highly sought after.

The book is a real page-turner, and there are lots of astonishing tales along the way about the people involved, such as the man who tried (unsuccessfully) to use the stamp as a bargaining chip to get out of a murder charge, or another who may (or may not – no one really knows) have found a second one cent-magenta and destroyed it to maintain the value of the first. These stories may sound incredible, but in the bizarre world of high-value stamp collecting this sort of behaviour is not out of the question.

This book reminded me of the 1936 novel “Antigua, Penny, Puce” by Robert Graves, about a brother and sister who fall out in spectacular fashion over a dispute concerning the ownership of a rare stamp with many similarities to the one-cent magenta, which is well worth reading too if you find this sort of thing as fascinating as I do. The Library doesn’t have a copy, but as it’s out of copyright, it is available as an e-book from the Internet Archive, where you can also find the audio of a 1995 BBC Radio dramatic adaptation of the book.

Enjoy!

Robert Webb – How Not to be a Boy: WORD Christchurch

On Tuesday evening I attended the WORD Christchurch event where the English comedian and author, Robert Webb, conversed with Michele A’Court about his book How Not to be a Boy.  A’Court suggested How not to be a boy is a “feminist memoir written by a man”. Webb demurred at that description and joked that the “F word” would ruin his chances of sales success.

Webb said that all throughout his life he had thought about gender and the way it defines roles and sets up certain expectations. So when he came to write a memoir, it seemed natural to use gender and its constrictions as a unifying theme.

As a boy, Webb discovered he did not seem to meet the expectations of what a boy should be. He was quiet and shy and not good at sports. Also, he was terrified of his father whom he describes as a violent, philandering, Lincolnshire woodcutter who didn’t really know how to bring up a young family.

Webb’s parents divorced when he was five, and he was brought up by his mother with whom he had a close relationship. Webb described how he felt most at ease in his mother’s company and he recalled fondly how he and his Mum would often sing along loudly with the stereo in the car. When Webb’s mother died of cancer when he was seventeen, he was devastated.

CoverThis experience served to illustrate to Webb that the “boys don’t cry” emotional repression that society seems to expect of males is a toxic expectation that does nobody any good. After his mother’s death, he moved back in with his father, had to retake his O Levels and eventually made it to Cambridge University where, because he had not processed his grief, he fell apart. He sought therapy at Cambridge which he found very helpful. Although not talking about one’s feelings was another trait society expected of males, Webb found talking about his feelings was exactly what he needed in order to heal emotionally.

During the evening, Webb read a couple of excerpts from his book. One was an account of his early teens where a male classmate who was pinching all the girls’ bottoms was challenged by another boy who received a smack in the mouth for his trouble. When the harasser was chastised in class by the teacher, Webb felt a sense of shame that he had been a silent enabler and not a “gentleman” like the boy who stood up to the harasser.

Another excerpt concerned the plethora of books like Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus which Webb saw as letting men off the hook when it came to dealing with their relationships.

Although Webb realised his book appealed to middle-aged feminists, he secretly hoped copies of the book might be passed around in juvenile detention centres and boarding schools. He said he didn’t claim to be any kind of expert and that is why he had employed a tone of self-mockery. He hoped that by using jokes and describing the many things he has done wrong, he could present some serious ideas about gender roles to a male readership and get them thinking about how gender expectations might be limiting their own lives.

More Webb

Robert Webb is appearing at Auckland Writers Festival. Catch him there.

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가족들이 곁에 있어서 행복합니다

올 5월에 Upper Riccarton Library Korean Book Club 이 두 살이 되었습니다.

hands reaching for Korean books

항상 그렇듯 시작은 미미했으나, 이제는 자리를 잡고 많은 분들이 책을 나누고 서로의 이야기에 귀를 기울이며 세상을 읽고 있습니다. Korean Book Club 은 여러분 모두를 환영합니다. 매 달 Korean Book Club List 가 회원님들에 의해 만들어지고 있습니다. 함께하시고 북 리뷰도 달아보세요.

이달의 소개할 책들입니다.

Korean books and party hats

마지막으로 사랑한다고 말해본 지가 언제인가요? 힘들다며 울어본 지는 얼마나 됐나요? 많은 사람이 자신의 이야기를 하거나 속에 있는 감정을 표현하는 걸 힘들어합니다. 저도 그랬습니다………..감정을 표현하는 일은 생각보다 힘들지 않다고 말하고 싶었습니다. 혹시 힘들더라도 감정과 마주하는 일은 꼭 필요하다고 말하고 싶었습니다. 비밀편지, 저자의 말 중에서.

소소한 일상을 사랑하는 작가 박근호님의 ‘비밀편지’입니다. 이 가을에 잘 어울리는 책이라 소개해 드립니다.

이미경 작가의 ‘택배왔어요’, 공지영 작가의 ‘할머니는 죽지않는다’ 그리고 일본 아사히 신분사에서 주최한 천개의 바람개비 프로젝트에 참가한 편지를 모아 펴낸 책 ‘천개의 바람이 된 당신에게 보내는 편지’ 도 추천합니다.

도서관 카드가 없으세요?

가까운 크라이스트쳐치 시립 도서관을 방문하세거나 , 바로 온라인 으로 신청하세요.

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 >

Mild, spicy, or burn it all down?: Secrets in novels

Early on in our relationship, my husband and I vowed to start as we meant to continue – honestly and openly. Certainly, on our very first date I made it clear that I had no interest in electricity (he’s an electronics engineer) and that I preferred to eat breakfast on my own (unless transported to some amazing 5 star location, but I digress). It took him several more dates to fess up that he was a Ham Radio enthusiast. I think he knew it would add little to his allure. To be honest, it would have been a challenging hobby to keep secret.

So the revelation of riveting secrets is unlikely to play a big part in any fictionalised account of my life. But that is not true of most novels which hide at least one secret, and sometimes many more. But like any good curry – not all secrets are the same. There are secrets and then there are SECRETS.  So much so that I have devised a Spicy Secrets rating scale based on my three most recent reads:

The Korma: In the korma the level of secret combustion is low. The fallout is almost non-existent and the blandness quotient is about the most dangerous ingredient. Korma secrets usually originated in the past and don’t really influence the present. In the case of The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper, Arthur’s wife kept her fascinating life prior to meeting Arthur quite separate from her very happy marriage to him. Just one charm bracelet (discovered after her death) causes a flicker of unease. But no real harm ensues, and it is a sweet, if slightly formulaic, tale.

Things We Nearly KnewThe Balti: the balti secret is going to make someone uncomfortable, possibly very uncomfortable. Balti secret keepers like to live close to, but not right on, the precipice. Things We Nearly Knew is an excellent example of the mid-range secrecy novel. I love novels set in middle America with its low horizons, blue sky, trailer parks and run down motels. This novel has all that, and so much more: secretive Arlene, her search for a mystery man, and the resulting unravelling of more than one middle-aged lothario – all this achieved through the author’s use of pitch perfect dialogue.

The Pilot's Wife
Anita Shreve (1946-2018)

The Vindaloo: The vindaloo secret is going to take a lot of people down. It hits hard, below the belt, causes maximum discomfort and long-lasting after-effects. Recently deceased Anita Shreve (1946-2018) hit the vindaloo jackpot with her 1998 novel The Pilot’s Wife which brought in to sharp focus the bloodbath potential of a deep secret kept from a wife. In 1998, book group after book group reeled under the notion of a husband with another life complete with all the necessary accessories (think another home, another wife and other children) and how we were sure we would have known.

In writing (as in life) there is a constant push-pull between privacy and secrecy; between cruelty and protectiveness; between honesty and lying. You plot your own course, and hope you never become famous enough to attract the deadly curiosity of a nosy novelist.

I believe I will be safe. How about you?