Library memories

9781452145402Having been a librarian for longer than I care to remember, the card catalogue holds a place dear to my heart. I remember as a library assistant filing new cards — one for the author, the title and the subject entries. A tedious job, but vital for the smooth running of the library. You can imagine the dismay when someone broke into a community library I worked in and dumped the whole lot on the floor! It took days to put in order.

These cards represented the hand writing of various cataloguers through the years. The advent of typewriting skills and twink was the next exciting venture, to be followed by a large and cumbersome computer system that saw the end of those beautiful cards and the glorious cataloguing drawers that are so fashionable today.

The Card Catalog: Books, Cards, and Literary Treasures is a chance to revel in the glory days — photographs of huge rooms filled with librarians filing cards at the mammoth Library of Congress, hundreds of images of original cards, and early edition book covers accompanied by engaging text and stories of the stacks! Not just for librarians, this will appeal to anyone who enjoys artifacts and stories from time past.


21 today – our website and online catalogue come of age

We are celebrating a cool milestone – in an online sense we have come of age. Our website and online catalogue were launched on that newfangled thing – the World Wide Web – on 7 June 1995. So we are 21 today!

Have a ride on the Wayback Machine and take a look at how we looked back then.

1995 library website

Here’s our website today – on her 21st. It’s a big shift from 21 years ago. Some customers don’t come into our physical branch, they visit this Digital Library and use all the splendid things it has to offer – digitised material, eResources, eBooks, and more.


Our library website was the first public library internet presence in Australasia. Thanks to our ever-innovative librarian Paul Sutherland for bringing that first website online. Thanks to you all for using the catalogue and website – and being such keen online users.

Browse our brief history of Christchurch City Libraries and our factsheet for more milestones.

Lists for the Listless

A popular read for cold, rainy days

It’s been a miserable, dark, rainy afternoon – I admit, it’s the first time in a long time but even so I’ve got used to good weather now …

As Autumn, (crisp and blazing riots of red and orange hued leaves) becomes clumps of wet, slippery mulch on pavements and in gutters, my thoughts turn to hugely enjoyable reads in the warm and dry ‘Inside’ that will blot out the slowly encroaching cold and wet ‘Outside’.

My reading recommendations normally come in the guise of ‘Have you read?’ conversations with friends; looking at the If you like… website page or the close scrutiny of library blog posts such as those recently written by the Library Angels attending the Auckland Writers Festival – I hastily place a hold on the work concerned and cross my fingers that the entire population of Christchurch are a little slower off the mark than me.

Roberta, Masha and Moata: Festival angels
2016 Auckland Library Angels. Flickr 2016-05-05-IMG_4074
a ‘gem’ of a read

Today, I engaged in a spot of ‘playing around’ within the Bibliocommons catalogue and found the following. If you type ‘Rainy’ in the search box and then choose the option ‘List’ from the Keyword drop-down menu you locate page upon page of lists created by people around the world who have the word ‘Rainy’ somewhere in the List headings they have created. Not just recommendations of books you understand, but DVDs, music, crafts for all age groups.

Of course the drawback is that you spend a long time wading through the information and writing down titles to put in your ‘For Later’ shelf but still it’s another way to locate a hidden  gem that needs to be read, listened to or watched.

Anyone else out there utilise this facility?  Anyone make their lists public for all to see and glean information from? Or place anything of interest in their ‘For Later’ Shelf from these Lists?

For later (much later)

For years I have noted the titles of books and authors I come across. Funnily enough, librarians come across a lot of books, and obsessives who cannot let a single interesting looking title escape them end up with a lot of scrappy bits of paper.

Number 224 on my For Later list

Sad attempts to be more organised  (Warwick 5B1 notebook indexed), more methodical (hardback with Andy Warhol shoes on the cover – so pretty I’d be sure to use it), more organised and methodical (basic black Moleskine indexed – essential to use it to justify the expense)  resulted in a proliferation of notebooks listing books to be read, books that had been read,  monthly issues of magazines so one wouldn’t be missed – on and on, spinning ever more out of control.

I tried on-line options but none of them were ideal, until I discovered the For Later option  in Bibliocommons, the library catalogue. Come across a book or an author, check the library catalogue, click Add to My Shelves – For Later and there it stays. My Account handily lets you know what books on your For Later list are available, so you can check the shelves at your local library, or put a reserve on knowing you won’t have to wait long.

The problem is that it’s just a little bit too easy. I currently have 224 items on my For Later list. “You won’t live that long,” said a book club friend. She is now a former friend. Some of them are of an idle flick through on a Friday night nature, so they will be easily transferred to my Completed shelf (an intensely satisfying feature of My Account in Bibliocommons), but others will require actual reading.

And I can’t stop adding to it. Now I have a list of books I took home in 2012 but didn’t read. In two weeks’ time, I will have to start a list of books I took home in 2013 but didn’t read.  And they just keep coming; calling to me from the new books shelf, thrusting themselves off the review pages of newspapers, magazines and web sites, inserting themselves into conversations with colleagues.  Please tell me there are longer For Later lists. Please.

Listing to starboard (and beyond)

Books - they're waiting for you on the shelf ...

Sorting through a pile of papers the other day I came across a list that one of my children made, back in the day.  It was written in green and purple crayon, and decorated beautifully and intensively, and went a bit like this:

Things I like:  cats.  foxes.  my new bed.  singing.  drawing.  the sky.

And so on (it was quite a long list).  Seems listing is a bit of a family habit, and there’s so much to be said for sitting down with a blank piece of paper and pen, or a blank screen and keyboard.

With this in mind, I’ve got a bit of a challenge for you (and a treat, really).  Our new catalogue (oh, so shiny!) has a few features that make it truly a joy to play with, and one of the top treats is the list-making facility.  I’ve been having a blast creating lists online – it’s dead easy, and I can put whatever I want on them:

  • Books I have read,
  • Books I want to read,
  • Books the library owns,
  • or ones I’d like the library to own.

I can make my lists private, just for me, or public, so everyone can see and share my weird and wonderful finds.  I can name them, claim them, rearrange them …  I can think of all my favourite things (and not just books, but movies, music, websites too), and create one mega-list – say, Bronnypop’s Ultimate Reading and Viewing Wishlist.

Some days my Ultimate Wishlist could be called:
Books I want to read, with zombies and weird stuff, but not too much sexytimes, where the authors are cool and not pretentious, but still use quite big words.
Other days my Ultimate Wishlist might be:  True books about food critics who live in big European cities and eat delicious food.  And write about it.
Or even:  Books about librarians who have strange things happen to them, and solve mysterious mysteries, but not in a naff and cliche-d way, even though they have three cats.  And wear cardies.

So this is my challenge to you (two challenges, really):

  • Go have a look at BiblioCommons and find some lists you like (here’s some of the ones we’ve been working on for the library, and some for teens), and even have a go at making one yourself;
  • Tell us what your ultimate Booklist Wishlist title would be – comment below, and you never know, if it tickles our fancy enough, we may even have a go at creating it ourselves …

Do you have any books on…

Recently I’ve been compiling a few book lists for our website. While doing these, I’ve been looking up a lot of headings on the library catalogue e.g. recycling – childrens fiction; Siblings – childrens fiction; sanitary landfills – childrens fiction…

Yep – that is an actual subject heading : “My kid is so sick of books about cats and fairies – what do you have on landfills, actually, not just landfills – sanitary landfills?” Other childrens fiction subject headings that we don’t get asked about so often –

Helmets – “Excuse me, I’d like to read a book with headgear involved, specifically helmets”

Adjoining Landowners – “I’m in a particularly sticky legal dispute with an adjoining landowner – do you have any picture books to explain this feud to my 8 year old?”

Altitudes – “My child is past the up-and-down stage, what do you have on varying altitudes?”

Other random catalogue entries gratefully accepted…