Mango languages gives you the world

LogoWhen I was travelling through Jordan, our guide pointed out some hills across from the Dead Sea. “That is Israel, we are still officially at war with them”, he said. It reminded me that New Zealand’s isolation isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Then I got a job at the University College of London where everyone I worked with seemed to be multi-lingual. This made me see our isolation in another light. Kiwis can’t pop over to Germany for the weekend to improve their German! So there is also a loss when your nearest neighbours are an ocean away and Australian. Times though are changing with immigration, tourism and cheaper air travel our island is becoming increasingly open to other cultures and language.

It is not surprising that with more fluid borders that people are keen to learn languages other than their own. This is where Mango languages can come in handy. You do not have to worry about scratched discs or overdue fines – instead you can learn over 60 languages online. Mango will let you learn from basic right through to advanced levels, with grammar and cultural notes.

So if you are looking for ways to learn a foreign language or need a better grasp on English then this is a great place to start. Mango for languages is available from home with your library card number and password/PIN or in libraries.

NZ Music Month 2015

Celebrate New Zealand music throughout May with Christchurch City Libraries, CHART, RDU and live gigs. NZMM launches in Christchurch on Friday 1 May 7pm at Central Library Peterborough. The gig features the legendary Martin Phillipps from The Chills performing a short solo set, along with smooth sounds from The Bats offshoot – Minisnap – featuring Kaye Woodward’s songs plus Amiria Grenell and Amy Grace as The Swan Sisters.

Sound Garden (across the road from Central Library Peterborough) will be hosting Beat in the Street before the launch gig (6 to 7pm on 1 May). Come along, bring the kids and get creative.

Explore more NZ Music Month events including jazz, sax, violin, folk, choirs, and ukulele pirates.


Christchurch mapfinders – William Smith’s geological map

The University of Canterbury has discovered a copy of William Smith’s 200 year old geological map of Britain.

The University of Canterbury’s copy has been identified by experts at the Geological Society of London as one of the early hand painted incarnations produced at the London office of publisher John Cary.

We now know from the Geological Society’s records that this map numbered ‘b4’ was signed by Smith on the morning of Tuesday 23rd January 1816. Along with his highly skilled colourists John Cary produced, on behalf of Smith, approximately 350 copies of the map with as many as 120 to 150 surviving today, according to Tom Sharpe of the Geological Society …

Sir Joseph Banks (who Banks Peninsula is named after), to whom the map is dedicated to, was Smith’s major sponsor in the research and production of his work providing funds for Smith to complete the map.

Read more: Library unearths the first geological map. Damian Cairns, Special Collections Librarian, who features in the article is a former alumni of Christchurch City Libraries, so feeling very proud of him!

Cover of The map that changed the worldIf you’ve read the splendid The Map That Changed the World: The Tale of William Smith and the Birth of A Science by Simon Winchester you will know how interesting this is.  If you haven’t read it, get a copy – we have paper copies – one in large print, and an eBook.

NASA’s Earth Observatory has a good image of the map and an introduction to the work of geologist William Smith.

For us in Christchurch, we probably know more than most about the layers beneath us. We have all garnered geological knowledge post-earthquakes.

If you are a bit of a map lover, you might also like to delve into our collection which includes this 1840 Akaroa beauty and a 1983 Christchurch cycle map.

And these geological maps:

Geological map of the Provinces of Canterbury and Westland, [ca. 1866]

Title: Geological map of the Provinces of Canterbury and Westland, New Zealand by Julius von Haast, P.H.D., F.R.S., principal geologist. Date: [ca. 1866] Physical Description: The Alexander Turnbull Library holds a CT scan. Scale etc: Scale [1:1,000,000]. File Reference: ATLMAPS ATL-Acc-3233 Other Reference: MapColl 834.4caq/[ca.1866]/Acc. 3233

Geological map of the Provinces of Canterbury and Westland, New Zealand by Julius von Haast, P.H.D., F.R.S., principal geologist. [ca. 1866] ATLMAPS ATL-Acc-3233 MapColl 834.4caq/[ca.1866]/Acc. 3233

Geological sections of Lyttelton and Christchurch railway tunnel [ca. 1875]

Title: Geological sections of Lyttelton and Christchurch railway tunnel [by Julius von Haast]. Date: [ca. 1875] Scale etc: Scale 1:480. File Reference: ATLMAPS ATL-Acc-3741 Other Reference: MapColl 834.44gme/[ca. 1875]/Acc. 3741

Geological sections of Lyttelton and Christchurch railway tunnel [by Julius von Haast]. [ca. 1875]  Scale etc: Scale 1:480. ATLMAPS ATL-Acc-3741 MapColl 834.44gme/[ca. 1875]/Acc. 3741

Looking at the Anzacs

As Anzac Day approaches, we have some interesting First World War displays for you to explore:

The Changing Face of Veterans (exhibition at Upper Riccarton Library until Monday 4 May). This photographic exhibition is about New Zealand’s war veterans since the First World War – our changing perceptions of veterans, and how we remember them. It’s a collaborative community project by Rannerdale Veterans’ Care, Upper Riccarton Library, and Riccarton High School.

There is also a poppy blanket display.
ANZAC display with poppy blanket

ANZAC display with poppy blanket. Flickr Upper-Riccarton-Displays-ANZAC-Display-2015.JPG

World War One at home and at the front (exhibition at Central Library Peterborough until Sunday 24 May) – A display of uniforms, equipment, photographs, publications, badges and letters, and even gas masks – all generously loaned by Barry O’Sullivan, private collector. Read Alina’s post to get a flavour, and view the O’Sullivan collection online.

The New Brighton Boys (exhibition at New Brighton Library until the end of May)
Staff from Christchurch City Libraries, have put together a display of the stories of the 62 soldiers with strong links to New Brighton, who served and died in the First World War. The display includes stories of each soldier and some photographs. Find out more about the New Brighton Boys on Kete Christchurch.

First World War talks

We will also host a series of talks on First World War subjects:

Find out more:

‘Cracking’ Easter holiday programmes at our libraries and learning centres

Cracking holiday programmes saw many happy children having lots of fun this Easter.

Lego animation – children created fun characters for their stop-motion movies.


Family Games Fun at Linwood – indoor bowls and badminton were great challenges for all.


Family Games Fun at South – posed a lot of thought in outdoor chess.


Minecraft – lots of banter, bargaining and laughter as students created and survived in the virtual world! This is always popular.


3D Tinker Workshop – students learned 123D software design to create key rings and helicopters then delved further into 3D wire sculpting, paper craft and Hama beads. Students made badges and fridge magnets with fabulous designs.

3D Doodler Pen


3D badges – Hama Beads


3D papercraft


3D Printing


There were lots of new experiences! Cracking fun!

Cycle to your library day, and cycling librarians

On Tuesday 14 April 2015 we are celebrating Cycle to your Library Day. Cycle to the library and you will get a backpack with reflective strips to carry your books (while stocks last). Show us your bicycle helmet and let us know you cycled to the library.

Cycle to your Library - FB post FINAL

Cycling is a fast, healthy and cost-effective so why not ride one to your library and celebrate with us.

Many famous minds have talked about bicycles:

Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race. H. G. Wells

My fellow cycling librarians would certainly agree. The first librarian I’d like to introduce you to bikes in all weathers.

Cyclist arriving at work
Life long cyclist arriving at work

I ride a Blue Bauer and have been cycling since the age of six. I still enjoy going for a bike ride although do not go as far afield these days. Biking is something I have always done, it keeps you fit and healthy. I keep myself safe on the road by paying attention to traffic, planning and looking ahead.

If you start young you will develop confidence, the more experienced you get the more you are likely to cycle and feel confident on the road. Getting into cycling as a young child as I did around home then taking longer bike rides to the park made it an easy natural process. The most enjoyable thing about biking is it helps me unwind and relax about the day in the evening.

Bicycles are a metaphor for life:

Life is like a ten speed bicycle. Most of us have gears we never use. Charles M. Schulz

Let me introduce you to somebody who I know uses all his gears.

Someone who uses all his gears
Someone who uses all his gears

I cycle to work, to meet friends, to the supermarket. As long as I’m not picking up a fridge, I’ll bike there. I used to bike from the Port Hills to Redwood and back every day, but working at Peterborough is luckily a lot closer!

I started cycling primarily because I was frustrated with changes to the bus routes and the many delays, but it also saves money. It’s healthy, cheap, great for the environment, and convenient. I confess to being a fair weather cyclist. This isn’t a big problem in dry Canterbury, however. My advice to keeping yourself safe when cycling is to repeat the cycle safe incantation three times while riding backwards on a full moon Or wear hi-vis and bright lights and remain aware of your surroundings, whichever is easier.

The best way to start out cycling is to stay on quiet roads. Get off and walk across pedestrian crossings if you’re afraid of turning across traffic and never underestimate the importance of a comfy bike seat. The most enjoyable part of cycling is riding with a tail-wind on an off-road bike path with no earthquake damage.

The journey of life is like a man riding a bicycle. We know he got on the bicycle and started to move. We know that at some point he will stop and get off. We know that if he stops moving and does not get off he will fall off. William Golding

Toleration is the greatest gift of the mind; it requires the same effort of the brain that it takes to balance oneself on a bicycle. Helen Keller – An inspiration to us all Helen Keller rode a tandem bicycle.

Short of stature, but bike of heart is our last cycling librarian:

Short of stature big of heart
Short of stature big of heart

I ride a hybrid road/mountain bike. It has front suspension and is rather comfortable to ride. It is probably too big for me but I feel more visible on the road on it. I bike everywhere! – work, university, shops, visiting, bike trails and have done since I was a child but got back into it seriously as a form of transport when I was going out to the university.

Usually I bike up to an hour a day depending on what I have scheduled that day. I would bike everyday – but some days it is almost impossible when the wind gets up and the rain starts tumbling. It is about fitness, as I enjoy it as an alternative to running. As a form of transport it is both kind on the budget and environmentally friendly. Christchurch with its flat terrain is a cycle-friendly city. I’d like to encourage others to get out and join me and to show that it is possible.

My safety tip is to be prepared to stop at all times! I make myself visible through wearing bright clothing and riding to be seen. I also use a flashing red light on my backpack even during the day. I am constantly scanning the road and footpaths ahead of me and I try to predict what people are going to do before it happens but as I said – I must be prepared to stop at all times.

The best way to start out cycling is to go out for short trips with family or friends – use designated bike tracks so that you can get used to handling the bike under different circumstances without having to worry about traffic.The best thing about cycling besides arriving safely to my destination is getting out and moving!

Library staff cycling through Christchurch town centre
Library staff cycling through Christchurch town centre, At the intersection of High, Manchester and Lichfield Streets. 1980s. Flickr Arch-52-PH-07-21

You may be surprised to know librarians have a proud tradition of biking to work. Some of us bike only when it’s a fine day. others are out in all weathers, some travel far, and others just round the corner.

How far is it to your local library? Do you bike to the library or work? Is bicycling part of your life?

For further information try our cycling pages or blog posts and Zinio cycling magazines. Search the catalogue for: Bicycle times cover

Kia ora New Central Library

Kia ora. Take a look at your New Central Library.
New Central Library

Here is some information from today’s media release (Thursday 26 March 2015):

Christchurch City Council today agreed to call for expressions of interest from contractors to build a new library of about 9,850 m2 at a total cost of up to $85 million.

Along with digital, specialist and print collections the Central Library will have a cafe, 200-seat community arena, exhibition space, outdoor terraces, and areas for families, children and youth.

Libraries and Information Manager Carolyn Robertson says the New Central Library facilities and lay out are based on 2,400 ideas from residents collected during last year’s Your Library, Your Voice campaign.

Through clever design we’ll provide the mix of family-friendly areas and quiet places people told us they wanted. The New Central Library will be able to offer programmes that were never possible in our old building. We’ll have activity rooms for things like craft sessions, as well as a film and editing unit and a music studio. I’m looking forward to holding author talks in the community arena.

New Zealand company Architectus worked in partnership  with Danish library experts schmidt hammer lassen (all lower case) and project director Carsten Auer says the design was developed in discussion with Ngāi Tahu and the Ngāi Tūāhuriri rūnanga.

Outdoor terraces and openings on upper floors face culturally significant points in the Canterbury landscape such as Horomaka / Pātaka o Rākaihautū  (Banks Peninsula) and Maungatere (Mt Grey).

The ground floor is a public space that’s an extension of Cathedral Square. We want people to feel like they belong here and, once they’re inside, we want to make access to information as easy as possible.”

Interior ground floor - atrium

It’s Booktacular – Big Bargain Book Sale – Friday 20 and Saturday 21 March 2015

The Library book sale is a Christchurch institution. And a bit of a booklovers’ frenzy! One of my favourite things is seeing people with all sorts of carrying devices filled to the gunnels with books books BOOKS. It is booktacular.

KidsLibrary book sale 2013Library book sale 2012

The 2015 Big Bargain Book Sale is on soon at the Pioneer Recreation & Sport Centre, 75 Lyttelton Street, Spreydon.

  • Friday 20 March 2015 9am – 7pm

  • Saturday 21 March 2015 9am – 4pm

I am not immune to the charms of this annual sale. Though I think I narrowed my selection down after this picture. Because I didn’t have a suitcase on wheels like some Christchurchians did.

2010 Library book sale

Innovative collaboration and a Living wall

A great project between members of the Library Programme Design and Delivery team in collaboration with Department of Conservation and Fab Lab in Christchurch meant we could utilise our 3D printer to produce and contribute panels to the “Living Wall” project.

Elizabeth Guthrey from DOC.
Elizabeth Guthrey from DOC.

Various community groups and organisations such as local schools and businesses that have access to 3D printers have been asked to contribute panels to this wall. It will eventually be planted up with native plants and situated on the corner of Cashel and High Street in Christchurch’s central city.

Elizabeth Guthrey (the project leader pictured above) explains that urban green walls and roofs provide habitats for plants and animals, supporting nature in our city. They create shelter, shade and cool cityscapes for a more liveable urban environment for people. The proven positive effects on people’s wellbeing mean green spaces are a must-have in urban regeneration. This particular wall is tipped to be around 20 metres long and remain in place for around two years or more. The picture below provides an indication of how the wall may look when complete.

From the PDD team’s perspective, it is great to get involved in initiatives that contribute to our city’s regeneration and it has certainly been a fantastic trial for our little Makerbot 3D printer – which so far hasn’t missed a beat.


South Learning Centre

An electronic marriage – Origins and Find My Past

Christchurch has a large array of electronic, print and people resources for those wishing to discover their family history whether it be a lost branch of a family tree, a birthplace or a story. The family history electronic resources are very popular for those just starting out on their search or for those looking for that one random link that can make everything fall into place.

Due to this any changes to those resources can see a flurry of questions so please be aware that Origins has disappeared! Origins specialised in unusual and often hard to find British and Irish records. Its many early records include rare marriage indexes, apprentices and poor law records. All this information is not lost, it has just been “consumed” by Find My Past. The merger will see all of the Origins information including the National Wills Index combined with the Find My Past material into a mega family history resource under the Find My Past banner.

So one search and more results – just another way your life is getting easier (online anyway).

Older man at PC

Have a play and find the black sheep in your family today.