World Standards Day 14 October

Every year since 1970 World Standards Day has been celebrated to raise awareness among regulators, industry and consumers on the importance of standardisation to the global economy. The day is an opportunity to pay tribute to the collaborative efforts of the thousands of experts worldwide who develop the standards.

This year the theme for World Standards Day is Standards make cities smarter.

Building a Smart City is highly complex. Every city faces its own challenges and requires its own mix of solutions. Sufficient fresh water; universal access to cleaner energy; the ability to travel efficiently from one point to another; a sense of safety and security: these are the kinds of promises modern cities must fulfill if they are to stay competitive and provide a decent quality of life to their citizens.

With standards, we can make our cities smarter, step by step. Individual islands of smartness can grow together and interconnect to:

  1. Support the development of tailor-made solutions that can be adapted to the particular circumstances of a given city
  2. Open the door to a larger choice of products and services
  3. Make things work safely and smoothly together at every level in cities

Current New Zealand Standards (NZS), and joint Australian/New Zealand Standards (AS/NZS) are available online at any of our libraries.

Print copies can be borrowed at Central Library Peterborough or requested from any of our community libraries.

More information about our Standards Collection.

Election – What are the critical issues?

With the election looming, now would be a good time to find out what the issues are facing New Zealand. A good place to start would be our Critical Issues Collection from Bridget Williams Books.

First off before you vote for a new Prime Minister (technically we didn’t vote for Bill at the last election) you may want to read The 9th Floor: Conversations with Five New Zealand Prime Ministers. Based on the acclaimed RNZ podcast series, and including new material, The 9th Floor by journalists Guyon Espiner and Tim Watkin presents in-depth interviews with five former Prime Ministers of New Zealand. Geoffrey Palmer, Mike Moore, Jim Bolger, Jenny Shipley, and Helen Clark reflect on their time occupying the prime ministerial offices on the 9th floor of the Beehive. Their recollections are a fascinating record of the decisions that shaped modern New Zealand.

After reading this about some of New Zealand’s Prime Ministers, you then have the option of reading about some of the other top issues in the upcoming election. The Critical Issues Collection has tackled all the major topics including the environment, child poverty, housing, immigration, health and the economy.

The Critical Issues Collection is available in your library or by using your library card and pin. Find out more about this collection.

           

Podcast – Ethical supply chains

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

Ethical supply chains is an important issue in today’s consumption-driven world (and related to the last episode Human Trafficking). To debate the issue, Sally is joined in the studio by Jeff Ward (Liminal Apparel​) and Natalie Baird (Christchurch Trade Aid and University of Canterbury​) with David Capperauld (Child Labor Free) on the phone. Talking points include –

  • consumer responsibility
  • corporate responsibility
  • consumer habits in today’s society (people want things cheap and fast)
  • fair trade
  • Fairtrade Fortnight (4-17 Aug)
  • mechanisms for ‘verifying’ or auditing ethical supply chains
  • benefits to producers and their communities, to businesses, and to consumers, of buying from ethical companies

Transcript – Ethical supply chains

Find out more in our collection

Cover of Ethics and the Consumer Cover of Fighting the banana wars Cover of The No-nonsense Guide to Fair Trade Cover of The fair trade revolution Cover of Unfair trade Cover of Slow fashion: Aesthetics Meets Ethics Cover of Invisible Hands Voices From the Global Economy Cover of Working Ethically-- on A Shoestring Creating A Sustainable Business Without Breaking the Bank Cover of Consumer republic Cover of Megatrends 2010 The Rise of Conscious Capitalism Cover of The conscience economy: How A Mass Movement for Good Is Great for Business Cover of The responsibility revolution: How the Next Generation of Businesses Will Win

More about Speak up – Kōrerotia

The show is also available on the following platforms:

Social media 1860s style – The logbooks of Joseph Munnings

You might have heard of people who keep a diary of their daily lives, recording their thoughts and special occasions. Some of us still do, and have little interest in using social media to share our most intimate thoughts and what we had for dinner with friends, workmates, friends of a friends, and that random stranger who you talked to once and ‘friended’.

I’m fairly certain that when Joseph Munnings wrote an account of his daily life he couldn’t foresee that it would be available for public scrutiny 150 years later – or that it would be of interest to anyone else. But it is. We are very fortunate to have the digitised copies of his ‘Log Books’ that date from May 1862 to November 1866 available for us to have a sneak peek into his world.

Diary, May 1862 to May 1864, Joseph Munnings. ANZC Archives. CCL-Arch971-01-002
Diary, May 1862 to May 1864, Joseph Munnings. ANZC Archives. CCL-Arch971-01-002

Joseph’s Log Books served to answer some questions that I didn’t know that I had. Like how did people of the time spend Christmas and New Years? Strangely he didn’t mention that he liked one particular gift over another and there were no plans to return unwanted pressies on Boxing Day! Maybe it was because he had to work – his shop was open six days a week and he was busy on Sunday teaching Sunday School before he went to evening services. He did however mention that he spent Christmas day with the Harringtons and some time at the Lunatic Asylum and there was preaching involved – his words not mine! Okay so that poses more questions than it answers.

I particularly enjoyed his account of the post-Christmas 1865 Bazaar that he both worked at and patronised in a paddock at Governors Bay. There was casual mention of his soon-to-be-betrothed being in attendance and a marquee was erected to house the food, refreshments and Christmas tree. Some 400 people were brought out to the event via Cobb and Co. coach or cart as well as numerous trips from Lyttelton by the steamer Betsy Douglas. They ate well – fowls, ducks, pigeon pie, ham, beef, mutton, lamb and spiced beef. Well, that kept all the carnivores happy but they also had salads, cucumbers, cakes, fruits of all kinds – and it was all washed down with ginger beer, lemonade, tea or coffee. “Sixpence if you please” for your cup of tea. Sounds divine – I’m getting hungry just thinking about it. Amusements were provided, balloons sent up, quoits were played and “kissing in the ring – a favourite with the young”. No doubt!

My romantic side has read between the lines on this occasion and decided that as his ‘beloved’ was also in attendance. I think it’s possible he proposed marriage to her as he was asking for her father’s consent to marry her by the 4th of January 1866. Next question: A Saturday wedding in spring with a honeymoon to Kaikoura or Akaroa? Time to put aside such romantic notions … how about a midweek ceremony in late July instead – and they were by all accounts still entertaining guests past midnight. Well, at least there was the honeymoon to look forward to … except Joseph was back working in his shop by Friday. However, I think we can rest assured that there was romance between them because his wife featured quite regularly in his log and they had 11 children over the years.

Maybe this is where we get the impression that they lived a simpler life back then. Joseph was simply grateful to have made it to the year’s conclusion and then wondered if he would see the new year through to its end. A noble aspiration methinks.

You can read more about Joseph in the The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Canterbury Provincial District] available on NZETC.

Joseph Munnings
Joseph Munnings The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Canterbury Provincial District], NZETC
So, if you’re like me and would prefer to read about historical life events rather than how someone else had a better weekend than you, then make sure you have a look at:

For those of us that like pictures because it makes it brings it alive on a different level – Geoffrey W. Rice has some amazing books to take a look at.

Ways to think about the bottom line

db-EconomistArchive-CKEY897144There are people with money, who know what to do with money and think about money. I am not one of them. My foolishness started early. “I will go to university and get a degree in history not accounting”, I said at 18. My student loan will have 9% interest from the minute I borrow, but I was not concerned as they told me that with my degree I would be making more money. Did I think to query this advice? No. At 28 I was still poor despite my education but was told what you need is a post graduate qualification to get ahead in your career. Did I think to query this advice? No. Two and a half years later I completed by distance my Masters. The investment in my education came to $55,000 according to IRD which took over 20 years to pay back and I am still no richer. So where did it all go wrong? Did I invest badly? Did I heed the wrong advice? So far yes on both counts. My own advice? Never doubt it is all about the bottom line. Being broke all the times loses its charm quickly. To learn about this bottom line we have:

colored backgroundBoth these eResources are available from home or in libraries for you to learn about money, business, finance and investment. The Financial Times (sober reporting) will tell you of events and the Economist (loud opinions) will help you interpret and learn from that event. The two archives are cross searchable via Gale NewsVault making comparisons and carrying out research easier. Delve into these two and learn from my mistakes!

Literature, culture, economics, and history anyone?

KTT Four into the eResource foldWho doesn’t like something new? These four wee beauties are online portals to authoritative information about a huge range of subjects. They were on trial and were popular enough to be made permanent residents of our collection. So from now on, you can access:

The Economist Historical Archive, 1843-2012The Economist has been highly regarded for providing independent global, economic and political analysis since its first publication in 1843. More content will continue to be added;

Listener Historical Archive, 1929-1991The Listener was a weekly magazine established by the BBC to reproduce and expand on the content of its broadcast and television talks. It is regarded as the premier cultural studies magazine of the mid-20th century;

TLS_Cover_Septembe_1074419a (194x250).jpgThe Times Literary Supplement Historical Archive, 1902-2010 – (TLS) is the world’s leading newspaper for cultural studies. It offers comprehensive coverage of the most important publications as well as reviewing theatre, cinema, music and exhibitions;

19th Century UK Periodicals – a collection of often rare online British magazines, journals and specialty newspapers that aim to provide an in-depth view of life in the Victorian age.

All of these eResources are accessible from home or in libraries and can be searched individually or as part of the wider content included in Gale NewsVault.

So if you are looking for a answer to a query or feel like reading something informative and interesting then these newbies are a great place to start.

The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius, and Betrayal

CoverAmericans love the idea that an ordinary individual can achieve the extra-ordinary – the American Dream! So it’s no surprise that American youth were enthralled with the Facebook story when details of its gnarly conception started to emerge. Author Ben Mezrich did well to cater to this interest and capitalize on it early on. In The Accidental Billionaires, he attempts to reveal the behind the scenes creation of Facebook starting at the start – Harvard University. Mezrich was a Harvard student himself, so he has insight into Ivy League culture.

The narrative basically begins around 2003 with brilliant Harvard students Eduardo Saverin and Mark Zuckerberg – supposed social outsiders – were excommunicated from the perfect and polished cliques of Harvard. Eduardo and Mark are depicted as being obsessed with social acceptance (most importantly with girls), which they try to achieve by either getting accepted into exclusive fraternities, or via devious computer creations.

Cover of Think like ZuckDespite Eduardo having fraternity ambitions, Mark seemed to find it much more thrilling creating contentious computer platforms to allow Harvard students to compare the school’s female students against each other and decide who are the most beautiful – a platform known as Facemash, which almost got Zuckerburg kicked out of Harvard due to the rage it provoked among the female student population. And then there was the wee issue of Facemash crashing the Harvard computer interface due to its popularity. Whoops.

Facemash, however, earned Mark a degree of notoriety, upon which two esteemed Harvard athletes approached him for help in building an exclusive Harvard dating site. However, upon working on the dating site, Mark’s ideas around social networking evolved, with Saverin helping out with the business side of things. It was all moving toward what would initially become “The Facebook”. But, TheFacebook was allegedly an adaptation of the athlete’s dating site idea. Upsetting the two 6’5 athletic giants greatly.

From here on in there were significant divisions and sneaky tactics, undermining and brinkmanship, all of which makes for very interesting reading. How could it not be, with such a cocktail of competitive individuals vying to control a burgeoning social networking site: venture capitalists, lawyers, sports people, fellow IT geeks and beautiful girls – all trying to get theirs.

What follows is a sad story of legal wrangles and friendship fall-outs which are a bit eye watering. The way the narrative goes has echoes of the Great Gatsby, except the subjects aren’t the Nouveau Riche but supposedly the Nouveau Popular. And eventually very Rich. The book has a raciness about it, and this thrusts the reader into the glamorous and clamorous environment of the Harvard fraternity culture.

This book is a bit speculative. One of the primary subjects, Mark Zuckerberg, wasn’t interested in talking to the author. So were left to read between the lines about what really happened. But we don’t like that, do we. As a society we expect people to be more forthcoming with mouth-watering portions of slanderous and scandalous material. So by default, there’s lots of scope for Mr Zuckerberg to be vilified. Which he is. In the absence of his side of the story.

There are some genuine messages to be taken from this read: fickle human nature, success changing people, or bringing out the worst in them. Don’t trust your counterparts upon entering a business relationship with them etc etc. So the story goes …

The Accidental Billionaires gives insight into competitive American college and business culture. Give it a go.  We have the book, eAudiobook, as well as the movie The Social Network which was based on the book.

Standards are important

My standards are pretty low when it comes to personal aspects about myself. I could straighten my hair in the morning and put on some lippy, but that would mean I would have to leave bed just that bit earlier. Maybe it is not so much about standards but priorities, and being asleep is my favourite thing to do. Don’t get me wrong I am clean, but I am not high maintenance. In other areas of life, dropping standards is not an option. In Christchurch we are living through what is called “the rebuild” – an understated term for such disruption and stress. A massive part of this is making sure standards are enforced. Standards are agreed specifications for products, services, or performance. They are there to improve safety and quality and meet various industries best practices.

Business people

To help anyone involved in this process you can come into any of our community libraries (in library access only) and you can search Standards New Zealand Online. Our library subscription entitles us to online access to all New Zealand (NZS) and joint Australian & New Zealand (AS/NZS) standards that are available in PDF format. I would hate to think how many changes have been made recently to building standards alone. To help, you may download a single copy of a Standards New Zealand document for viewing purposes only. The retention of any downloaded Standards New Zealand documents, whether in hardcopy or electronic form is expressly prohibited by copyright law. Christchurch City Libraries also has print copies of standards and other help available for those who need to adhere to standards regardless of how much they would like to stay in bed. Just ask!

Business for busy people

People who do history degrees in my experience very rarely get to scale the heights of industry and make a lot of money. I am one of those unfortunates who decided to do what she enjoyed when she went to university rather than doing something that would later pay the bills. Oh the decisions made by youth! Well there are no excuses as at Christchurch City Libraries we cover the full range of information needs online 24/7. This includes access to multiple Business and Management eResources which have full-text coverage of all business disciplines including accounting, economics, finance, marketing, management and strategy, as well as business theory and practice.

One of the new business eResources is called Gale Business Collection which combines the old databases of General Business File ASAP and Business and Company ASAP into a single flash new platform. It is even mobile friendly so you can search it with ease on your phone.

I guess at this point with such resources at my fingertips there is no real excuse not to go back and learn some new skills and build an empire. It is just when I get home from work I tend to collapse into myself and can barely keep my eyes open long enough to make dinner let alone take on the business world. Oh wasted youth!

The evils of inequality

Cover of The spirit level: Why more equal societies almost always do betterThe gap between the rich and the poor has become one of the most topical issues in many countries post GFC (Global Financial Crisis) and post Neo-Liberal economic reforms. More and more people seem to feel that the rich (particularly the super-rich) don’t pay enough tax and have managed to sneakily get away with taking no responsibility for the GFC while the rest of us languish in our lacklustre lifestyles working squillions of hours per week…and all the while paying our fair share to keep society running! Or so the Russell Brand sentiment goes.

So its against this backdrop that The Spirit Level should be read, I guess…

The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better for Everyone is among a handful of cornerstone works for anyone who is interested in 21st century political and economic thought. I reckon. In fact, I’d almost argue that it is a grand thesis which seeks to give policy advice on how to solve (or markedly reduce) a catalogue of society’s ills through its recommendations and findings.

Inequality = poor outcomes

The key message that authors (and epidemiologists) Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett want to drive home is that the more “unequal” a society is, the more likely that society is to manifest higher degrees of illness, mental illness, drug abuse, widespread poor educational outcomes, obesity, social mobility and cohesion, violence, teen pregnancy, among other societal ills such as rapacious consumerism.

The focus on “inequality” is really on Income Inequality – the income gap between those at the top, middle and bottom. The argument being that countries with larger income gaps experience more societal ills.

International research

Their claims with regard to what drives poor outcomes in terms of societal well-being are backed up by some quite robust research comparing and contrasting various developed countries (and comparing States to States in the USA). Lots of graphs, statistical data etc drawn from reputable organisations such as the United Nations and the World Bank (among many others).

However, not all variables are taken into account which might frustrate some people – claiming rates of obesity are higher in the USA compared to Japan because of the USA’s rough private healthcare system is a bit unfair when you leave out factors such as Japan’s healthy and entrenched culinary traditions, and genetic factors (skinny genes).

More tax…good?

But, it also seems that countries which have higher income taxes and high levels of wealth redistribution (i.e gather large amounts of tax revenue to pay for generous education, welfare, healthcare and maternity leave programmes) are more “equal” than countries which have low taxes and far less social spending – we see less of the aforementioned health and well-being problems if we practice the former!

However, the authors seem more concerned about Income Inequality (even if the average income is quite good but the top income markedly better), not so much tax. But what is outstanding is that pretty much all of the “most equal” countries have really high income tax regimes (Japan, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway).

So you are kind of left to draw your own conclusion about which is the most important – income equity or high tax rates, or both?

Sadly, New Zealand and Australia rank really highly in terms of inequality according to the authors, and therefore, this is what drives a variety of problems here and in Oz. Not just “people being lazy” etc.

Don’t be put off the by the academic sounding nature of the book, it’s really well written which makes all the technical sounding stuff really palatable.