A bit of a stink

image_proxySometimes in libraries we think about poo. Not necessarily because we want to but because our public toilets sometimes get blocked, sometimes books get Suspicious Stains on them, and sometimes we wonder how many royal toddler toilet training picture books there are…

And if you really think about it poo is quite important, and you certainly can’t escape it. So, I’ve been poking around a few of our resources to see what I can find about poo and sewage and other stinky things like that.

Searching on our catalogue the keyword ‘poo’ and the Official Subject Heading (we librarians do enjoy a good subject heading) ‘feces‘ finds a lot of children’s books – not unsuprisingly, but it also brings up entries from Access Video – an eResource featuring lots of fascinating documentaries – about sanitation in the developing world.

Sanitation has an interesting history in Christchurch. We’re all familiar with more recent issues in this area, which has been carefully documented by CEISMIC, however there’s a long history to explore.

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The Christchurch Drainage Board has a well documented history – so vital for a city built on a swamp – and according to John Wilson‘s Christchurch – Swamp to City Ōtautahi has ‘been the best drained and and most efficiently sewered city in the country’ (p11). The importance of pumping stations in the city has been recognised as part of the Architectural Heritage of Christchurch Series – reminding us that the functional doesn’t have to be ugly. Underground Overground Archaeology (I don’t think they employ any Wombles) has written a great overview of sanitation in Christchurch.

If you’ve ever wondered what the poo of our native wildlife looks like, then DigitalNZ is the website you need! Searching for ‘poo’ brings up a lot of helpful visuals to assist you in identifying that mystery turd, plus a positive plethora of poo-related media articles, research papers and videos.

I also had a look on Papers Past for poo related content. However the 19th century and first half of the 20th century were more conservative eras so ‘poo’ and ‘excrement’ don’t bring up a huge amounts of hits – although there is definitely content for those with an interest in public health. I’ve also found out about pakapoo – a Chinese lottery game brought to New Zealand by gold miners – and The Mikado.

Do you have any #codebrown stories you’d like to share? [Ed: we welcome the use of euphemisms for the benefit of those with delicate sensibilities]

Find  more

SPACifically PACific Polyfest Canterbury 2018

This Saturday I’ll be heading down to the former residential Red Zone in Dallington (on the corner of New Brighton Road & Locksley Ave) with my kids in tow, picnic, rug and chairs for the biggest annual specifically Pacific event this side of the Cook Strait. Saturday will see 730-odd performers from 19 secondary schools from Nelson College all the way down to Ashburton College take the stage to showcase the hours of hard work they have put in to refining every last movement and note.

Polyfest 2018 school performance times

This event has grown from strength to strength in the past few years with the hard work of some very dedicated teachers, parents, volunteers and agencies. The Pasifika population holds the youngest median age in the diverse populations of New Zealand, so it is best fitting that our Pasifika youth celebrate this on stage.

For a taste of what to expect you can view videos of performances from previous Polyfests on YouTube.

Make your way down to the red zone and expect to have your senses assaulted as you witness the graceful movement, rhythmic drums, enticing scent of warm coconut buns and chop suey, and the “chee-hoo!” of Pasifika celebration. Check out the performance order to make sure that you don’t miss out on your favourite group!

Find out more

Jan-Hai Te Ratana
South Learning Centre

Harry Giles: Doer of Things (WORD Christchurch event, Tues 13 March 7.30pm at Space Academy)

I must admit to some trepidation about reporting on a Poetry Reading. How does one describe a Poetry Reading to those that weren’t there? Even one by a flamboyant Scottish poet who has travelled halfway across the world.

Harry Josephine Giles originally came from the Orkney Islands but they did not elaborate from which island other than to tell us that their island had 700 people and six churches of various denominations. Obviously, a small island northeast of Scotland was never going to contain nor satisfy a restless, creative spirit like Harry’s so they headed for the big city and now reside in Edinburgh.

I vacillated on whether I should take notes, but I thought that would be a buzz kill when I was trying to listen and enjoy the poetry in the moment.

Harry started off reading some poems in English and then went on to read some in Scots. If you want to see what Scots poetry looks like, check out Whit tae write nou?

I profess ignorance and I have no excuse since I am descended from Scots, but I was unaware that three languages were spoken in Scotland as Harry enlightened us. I knew they spoke English (the language of their colonisers) and Scots Gaelic (related to the other Celtic dialects of Ireland, Wales, Cornwall and Brittany), but I hadn’t considered Scots as a separate language. I’d thought of it as a variation of English. But Harry put us straight, explaining that Scots has those Norse origins that English shares.

Harry kindly read their Scots versions of poems then followed with the English translation, so to speak.

Although tired after their whirlwind tour of Aotearoa (nine gigs in seven days in New Plymouth and Wellington), Harry gave an energetic performance. It was easy to see that Harry works in the performance and theatre arenas because they enlivened their poetry with modulations of their voice and gestures. Harry has a beguiling shyness that peeps out from time to time.

Harry read a small series of poems in which they had engendered their fears and anxieties through the persona of a female military drone. You can hear some of the sequence on Soundcloud.

Harry was introduced by Ray Shipley who is a Christchurch-based poet, comedian, youth worker and founder of the Faultline Poetry Collective. Ray made an able MC and general crowd-exciter, but Harry had the audience engaged from their first poem and many of us were sad to bid Harry farewell after only an hour and a half.

More Harry Giles

Have your say on the Long Term Plan 2018-28

Every three years, the Christchurch City Council reviews their 10-year plan. It is your chance to share your views on how best to manage the infrastructure and services that make Christchurch work.

You can read the Long Term Plan documents online. If you want to read the paper copies, libraries and service desks have them available.

Find out more:

Have we got the priorities right? Newsline

Tutor available 24/7 – Lynda.com

Have you started studying this year and are feeling a little out of your depth? or do you want something to help you be at the top of your game. We have just the thing for you – a tutor available 24/7. Lynda.com has tutors for heaps of courses – to either help you with your studies, or try a course before you buy. Check out these great study starters to set you off on the right foot. All you need to get started is a library card and password/PIN.

 Learning Speed Reading

Learn how to read faster. Improve your reading speed and comprehension with these proven speed-reading techniques. Speed-reading is a skill everyone can benefit from, and this course provides proven techniques to improve how much information you absorb and how fast you absorb it.

 Learning Study Skills

Get tips for improving your reading speed and memory, creating detailed notes and preparing for tests. The information in this course is appropriate for all levels of learners, from school  to university students and full-time members of the workforce. Start watching now—you’ll never approach studying the same way again.

 Information Literacy

Information literacy is the ability to discover and use various types of information. It’s an essential skill for navigating the information age. Learn about strategies for finding information – from a library, archive, database or the internet – and the ethics of using what you find. This one is definitely one to trust – the tutor is a Librarian!

 Improving your Memory

Improve your memory with these memorization techniques. It explains the best methods for different situations, like remembering names, important dates, passwords, to-do lists, quotes, and more. These techniques will prove invaluable, whether you’re memorizing facts for a test at school, points for a work presentation, or trivia to impress your friends.

 Learning Algebra: Pre Algebra

Pre-algebra is the first step in high school math, forming the building blocks that lead to geometry, trigonometry, and calculus. This course will help you master the basics: from addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division to new types of numbers (integers and negative numbers) and concepts such as the order of operations and distribution.

Happy Pride! Christchurch Pride Week – 15 to 24 March

It’s nearly Pride Week! Lasting a little bit longer than an actual week, starting Thursday 15 March, Pride Week is a celebration of sexuality- and gender-diverse folks in Ōtautahi, and it’ll feature allsorts, from parties to seminars, art shows to dog walking. The rainbow flag will fly at the Christchurch City Council Civic Offices from 15 to 25 March.

However, pride celebrations have pretty sombre beginnings. The first pride marches in the USA were protests against the mistreatment and discrimination of LGBT+ people by the police, public services, and the law. As rainbow communities have largely seen great leaps forward in these areas over the past 40-50 years, these pride events focus more and more on celebrating diverse identities – but it’s important to take a moment to remember that there is still a struggle; that people are still being discriminated against because of their sexuality or their gender identity, both close to home, and globally.

Find out more about Christchurch Pride:

Pride Picks

Here’s my top 3 pride events you should check out happening in Ōtautahi in the coming weeks:

QCanterbury Quiz Night

I have a slight bias towards this event because I’m the MC! But who doesn’t like a quiz??
Friday 23 March 7pm to 10pm, The Foundry, 90 Ilam Road

Art Show

Christchurch Pride has started with an Art Show for a few years now, and it’s always a good night, with lots of mingling and snacks! Plus there’s an opportunity to buy some new artwork and support local LGBT+ artists at the same time. Thursday 15 March 5pm to 8pm, Windsor Gallery, 386 St Asaph Street

Bingo Fundraiser

I’ve been along to this event in previous years, and it is ridiculous fun. With all proceeds going towards a local youth support group, and the chance to win some fabulous prizes, it’s well worth it…who knew bingo could be so much fun?! Tuesday 20 March 7pm to 10pm.  Sixty6 On Peterborough, Christchurch Casino

More Pride

If this is a topic you’d like to learn more about, the library has some great reading/viewing material! Here’s some of the things I’ve enjoyed recently:

CoverQueer: A Graphic History  Meg John Baker and Julie Scheele – A non-fiction graphic novel style book delving into the history and key milestones of LGBT+ rights, as well as an introduction to queer theory. Engaging and witty and fun to read!

CoverPride – a film with all your favourite British actors about an unlikely partnership between gay and lesbian activists and striking miners in Wales.

Milk – a beautiful and heartbreaking film about Harvey Milk, an openly gay politician and activist in San Francisco in the 70s.
CoverThe library has a book about Harvey – and an opera.

CoverTomboy Survival Guide – Ivan Coyote – Brilliant, funny, serious, adventurous stories about growing up in rural Canada and navigating gender and sexuality.

Read our blog posts about Ivan, and Look up Ivan on YouTube too! They’re an incredible live storyteller.

Of course, there’s a never ending list of books and films to read and watch that explore what it means to be sexuality- and gender-diverse from a range of different cultural perspectives – Why not introduce yourself to something new this Pride Week?

Regardless of your orientation or identity, pride is a time to celebrate diversity and promote inclusion – a good reminder to have a look at your workplaces and community spaces and check they are inclusive and welcoming environments; or educate yourself on some new language or ideas within the rainbow community; find out what is going on for rainbow communities in other parts of the world; and, most importantly, check in with LGBT+ people in your life and remind them that they are loved.

Happy Pride!


Victoria Square reopens – Friday 9 March 2018

Today Victoria Square has reopened. It has been closed for a year, having a revamp and repairs.

What’s new:

  • New pieces of art have been added including Ngā Whāriki Manaaki – Woven mats of welcome, and a Literary Trail (series of text sculptures).
  • The Bowker Fountain will be working again and will put on a water and light display.

Here’s what Victoria Square looked like this morning:

Find out more about Victoria Square

Cathedral Square on a tram excursion day to Sumner: Picturing Canterbury

Cathedral Square on a tram excursion day to Sumner [1900]. File Reference CCL PhotoCD 4, IMG0097.
Cathedral Square on a tram excursion day to Sumner [1900].

The seaside suburb of Sumner was first connected to Christchurch city by tram in 1888.

Do you have any photographs of trams in Christchurch? If so, feel free to contribute to our collection.

Kete Christchurch is a collection of photographs and stories about Christchurch and Canterbury, past and present. Anyone can join and contribute.

Podcast – Art and social responsibility

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.

The role of art and artists in raising awareness of social and political issues – show recorded live at Christchurch’s CoCA (Centre of Contemporary Art) with artist Ruth Watson (whose exhibition Geophagy prompted the topic), art curator Jennifer Shields, socialist feminist Sionainn Byrnes and environmental activist Alice Ridley of Saikuru.

Topics covered include:

  • Setting the scene: The Geophagy exhibition
  • What is and who holds social responsibility?
  • Limits to the influence of art – art within the gallery or in the public sphere
  • Corporations and sponsoring art
  • How can art encourage social responsibility?

Transcript – Art and social responsibility

Find out more in our collection

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 Cover of Slow fashion: Aesthetics Meets Ethics Cover of Ethics and the Consumer Cover of Clothing poverty Cover of Dying for a bargain Ecopreneuring Cover of Sustainability made simple

More about Speak up – Kōrerotia

The show is also available on the following platforms:

The doctor (of horror) is in

Dr. Erin Harrington is a researcher and lecturer at the University of Canterbury. Her area of expertise? Monsters, murderers and all things sinister and unsettling – or more specifically, the horror genre.

Dr Erin Harrington, University of Canterbury. Image supplied.

Harrington is giving a free talk at the university next week on just this topic. Being something of a horror enthusiast myself I was keen to pick her brains (not literally), about why people are drawn to movies and stories that, superficially at least, should make us run a mile.

What is it about horror that appeals to you particularly, as opposed to other genres?

I ask myself this every day! I have always liked horror – I have fond memories of going to the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland when I was 6 years old – so there’s something fundamental about the way that scary stories are able to communicate with us that really appeals to me, just as other people might respond to fantasy or westerns. I think I always liked how evocative and transgressive horror can be. It’s a place where boundaries can be pushed, and where we can think through big or challenging ideas, or explore frightening things in a secure space, much in the way that slumber party ghost stories can be both thrilling and safe. There’s a visceral pleasure to horror, as it can range from the horrifying or thrilling to the hilarious or gross. I also think I just like monsters a lot.

Does studying horror academically make it more difficult to enjoy as pure entertainment?

It can do. It’s harder to switch off, as you become really aware of the cinematic language that they are using, and a lot of films are quite derivative, but the best films will draw you in no matter what. Sometimes watching films can feel a bit like homework, which is frustrating. Weirdly, it has made me appreciate average or even quite bad films a bit more, as I can kinda see what they are trying to do, or how they connect to other films within the genre and subgenres, even if they fail spectacularly. Perhaps it’s like being an expert cheese taster – you eat enough of the stuff that you come away with an affection for even the stinkiest gloop.

I love horror but my partner does not. Which one of us is right? Or rather, why is it that some people love to be scared but others loathe it?

You are both right (sorry). We all have different tastes in terms of the sorts of stories we respond to, and this will include how those stories are told – their imagery, the way they sound, their pace and so on. Not all horror films are graphic, but people definitely have varying levels of tolerance for images of fictional violence. Additionally, all film plays with our emotions, but some make us have a more physical reaction than others – comedies make us laugh (hopefully), emotional films might make us feel sentimental or sad, and so on. The emotions and sensations that come up with horror can be quite complex, and some people are just more comfortable with uncertainty or ambiguous feelings. Fear, dread, terror and horror all play with a shift between tension and release that some people find more interesting and stimulating than others. For example, I get really frustrated with films that have a lot of jump scares, as I don’t like being startled, but I find films that are unsettling or disturbing, or that have provocative imagery, or that retell familiar stories in new ways both rewarding and challenging. Some of us just like stories about monsters.

What should horror-fans (or the horror-curious) expect from your free talk at University of Canterbury?

I’m going to talk about some of the reasons people get pleasure or satisfaction from horror, but I’ll also look at the unique ways that horror can tell stories. I hope this helps the horror-phobic better understand why they may not respond to these films well, and prompts horror lovers to think about their own reactions to films. Whether people are horror newbies or experts, I want them to come away with an appreciation for how broad and diverse the genre is, but also but also how entertaining it can be. A lot of horror is really funny, and I reckon there’s a horror film for everyone.

Which movies or books would you recommend for those wanting to indulge in some horror research of their own?

How to Survive a Horror Movie is a really fun guide to horror tropes, and it looks at a lot of the most notable horror films from the last few decades. It can be really helpful to understand how horror films have changed over time, how they’ve reflected their own era’s fears and anxieties, and how they have influenced later films. Horror Films of the 1990s and Shock Value both do a good job of exploring context while highlighting significant films and shifts in tastes and subgenres.

Oscar-nominated film Get Out is one of the best horror movies in years, and easily one of the best films of 2017 full stop. It’s a great gateway film for the horror-phobic. If you’re after some international horror, then moody Iranian supernatural horror Under the Shadow, Norwegian horror comedy Dead Snow and action-packed South Korean zombie film Train to Busan are all pretty nifty.

It’s not in the library catalogue, but Stephen King’s 1981 non-fiction book Danse Macabre is still one of the best books out on the history of literary horror, even though it’s close to 40 years old.

Anything else you want to say about anything horror-related?

Monsters can be your friends too!

Find out more (if you dare!)