Inter Library Robotics Competition

The atmosphere was tense.
The clock ticked down.
Sumner fought hard.
South fought back.

South 1st, South 2nd, Sumner 3rd

Next competition will see Fendalton up against South. Watch this space.


Robotics is a six week after school programme for boys and girls Year 4 to 8. Students will learn how to programme an mBot to complete a set of challenges.

Happy birthday, Christchurch City Libraries!

Canterbury Public Library building, Circa 1903-1907, CCL Flickr

My family and I moved to Christchurch at the beginning of 2009, and one of the first things we did – as you do – was go to the library and sign up for a membership. The staff probably cringed when they saw the five of us arrive, but they were so nice and helpful and friendly, it was amazing.

We had gone into Central Library because the concept of more than one library in a town was a bit unknown to us, and after we collected our cards we set off exploring…

Storytelling pit, Children's Library
Storytelling pit, Children’s Library, Ground Floor. 1995. Flickr File Reference: Arch52-BWN-0026

Did you know there was a WHOLE ROOM just for children? An aisle of science fiction? (Our favourite) young adults had it’s own space! There were heaps of CDs and DVDs. And magazines. There was even an upstairs with a whole floor of non-fiction… It was bliss.

And when we went to the beach we found a library.  Then another one when we did grocery  shopping at Bishopdale Mall, then another one out at Diamond Harbour (where we got the best ice creams this side of Pleasant Point). After 20 years of living in small towns in New Zealand, Christchurch City Libraries was a revelation.

New Central Library
New Central Library, Flickr File reference: 2015-03-26-Plaza-Day-new

Well, we all know that the Central library built in 1982, is no more. And like a phoenix rising  from the ashes, a new library will be built on Cathedral Square. Hey, that could be a good name for it: The Christchurch Phoenix, what do you think?

So what other milestones has the library seen in it’s 157 years:

  • 26 May 1859 opens as the Mechanics Institute library, based in the Town Hall. Membership was for paying members only, and the subscription was set at one guinea per annum or seven shillings and sixpence per quarter
  • In 1863, the library moved to a new wooden building on the corner of Cambridge Terrace and Hereford Street.
  • Canterbury College took over the running of then named Canterbury Public Library in February 1874.
  • In 1920 a travelling library service to country areas was begun: boxes of books, which were changed quarterly,  were sent to places like Darfield, Mayfield, Culverden and Hinds
  • Uncle Jack (Librarian Ernest Bell) and Aunt Edna (Edna Pearce) created a children’s radio show on 3YA in the 1920s, broadcasting stories, plays, poems and songs
  • In 1948 ownership of the Library was handed over to the Christchurch City Council (after decades of wrangling, in true Christchurch fashion!)
  • 1952 – finally – free borrowing introduced
  • 1975 first computerised lending system introduced
  • 2 February 1982 the Governor-General, Hon. Sir David Beattie officially opened the new Public Library building on the corner of Gloucester Street and Oxford Terrace. Warren and Mahoney were the architects and C. S. Luney Ltd was the principal contractor for the building
  • 1989 Christchurch City Libraries starts Australasia’s first public library online catalogue
  • 1996  last card catalogue unit taken away
  • 2001 Ngā Pounamu Māori centre opened
  • 2009 150th Anniversary celebrated in many ways, including the provision of free wifi
  • 2014 Central Library demolished
  • 2017 New Sumner library due to open
  • 2018 Opening of the New Central Library

Happy birthday Christchurch City Libraries – may you have many more!

Books for babies 20th anniversary
Books for babies 20th anniversary, 2011, Flickr File reference CCL-2011-02-07-Books-For-Babies-20-P1040243

Cats and Kalashnikovs – the Big Bargain Book Sale is on and it’s awesome

Our Big Bargain Book Sale is underway. On Friday 11 March (today) it goes from 9am to 7pm, and tomorrow (Saturday 12 March) it is on from 9am to 4pm. It’s at the Pioneer Leisure and Recreation Centre, 75 Lyttelton Street, Spreydon. When we say there is something for everyone, we ain’t kidding.

Big Bargain Book Sale
Cats. Kalashnikovs.

Things you need to know:

  • You can pay by EFT-POS or cash only (no credit cards or cheques)
  • Most adults’ books are $3 (except for selected premium art, landscape and gardening books, and most New Zealand books, which are at marked prices)
  • Books for kids and teens are $1
  • Magazines are 10 for $1
  • Audio-visual items such as DVDs, CDs, talking books etc are $3
  • Tables are regularly replenished with new supplies
  • We supply plastic library bags for free, but you might also like to bring you own shopping bags, suitcase, etc.
  • It’s superawesome and it is highly likely you will find something to take home and enjoy

Here’s some pics from the preview.

Big Bargain Book Sale

Landscape Art Group paintings at the Big Bargain Book Sale
Art from the Landcape Art Group for sale.
Big Bargain Book Sale - book pile
Someone’s* pile of books at the Book Sale. *Mine

Our website is 20 years old – Whoopee!

Happy birthday to our library website! We are 20 years old!
Have a ride on the Wayback Machine and take a look at how we looked back in 1995.

The URL back then was and here’s the first baby photo:

1995 library website

And on her 20th birthday:

2015 website

The library website was born on 7 June 1995 (oops sorry we missed the actual big day), and she was the first public library internet presence in Australasia:

… The library’s move into the digital age was further boosted in June 1995, when the library established its first web pages. Part of the Christchurch City Council site, the library’s pages were the first public library internet presence in Australasia. In addition to providing information about the library and its services, they offered online catalogue access for the first time.

Thanks to our ever-innovative librarian Paul Sutherland for bringing that first website online, and for looking after it so well.

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

Unwrapping the new OPAC Launch of OPACs

Science – not just for scientists

Cover of 365 More Simple Science ExperimentsScience is fun. Science is cool. Science is everywhere. Science is at your library.

Science Alive are free drop-in science sessions from 3:30pm – 4:30pm at your local library. This is an after school science programme presented by Science Alive. Excellent Science Alive educators lead children through interactive activities to stimulate their interest in science, and there is something to take home every week.

If you can’t wait for the next Science Alive session, we have a great collections of books and eResources that have science experiments and activities you can do at home.

At Science Alive, I have learnt that insects are very good at hiding. In buildings, triangles are stronger than squares. Some crystals are huge. Paper gliders can fly a long way if you make them properly. What have you learnt?

Programmes run during term time except the first week and no bookings are required.

Cover of  Science a children's encyclopedia Cover of Science Experiments Cover of 101 Cool Science Experiments

Knitting – don’t let the Julia Gillard experience put you off

Don’t let the Julia Gillard experience put you off. Knitting seems to be a misogynistic put down in Australia but in fact it has a long and feisty history involving both sexes.

Sailors and fishermen were skilled knitters in traditional communities around England and Scotland and whole families knitted for a living.

Women knitters may have been given a bad rep by Madame Defarge and her fellow tricoteuses in Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, but women in places like Norway, Guernsey and the Shetland Islands created beautiful and intricate work. In recent times it has been a man who inspired a new generation with intricate and colourful knitting patterns – Kaffe Fassett.

These days with the rise of stitch n bitch groups and yarn bombing there is a certain defiant attitude about knitting, despite television news often lingering on elderly women knitting during meetings as if it is something to be mocked.(Actually it is easy and productive to knit and listen to politicians burbling on). Knitting is a wonderfully social activity – you can knit and talk,  you can easily share tips and tricks and it’s highly portable.

Winter is the ideal time to get knitting – maybe share a box of wool in your staffroom and knit peggy squares or simple hats for children.If you want to be environmentally staunch you could knit a penguin jersey (instructions provided).

If you’ve got the time quite a few of our libraries hold Knit n Stitch sessions – just check our Classes and events calendar to see what is on each day.

Happy 18th birthday to our website

Partay! In the internet equivalent of a baby photo – take a look at how we looked back then.

The URL was

She was born on 7 June 1995, and was the first public library internet presence in Australasia:

 … The library’s move into the digital age was further boosted in June 1995, when the library established its first web pages. Part of the Christchurch City Council site, the library’s pages were the first public library internet presence in Australasia. In addition to providing information about the library and its services, they offered online catalogue access for the first time.

So Happy Birthday website, you’ve come a long way baby (here is how it looks now).

Browse  our brief history of Christchurch City Libraries and our factsheet for more milestones, technological and otherwise.
Unwrapping the new OPAC   Launch of OPACs

Captain Haddock’s Chateau

book coverIn France’s Loire Valley, an enterprising stately home owner has cashed in on the fact of their chateau being used as the model for Moulinsart, the chateau of Captain Haddock. (In English it is called Marlinspike Hall)

Chateau de Cheverny has many attractions – the chateau, the beautiful park , a medieval church of great beauty and the rather savage soupe des chiens – daily feeding of a pack of hounds. Added to this is a small Tintin museum full of lots of interactive fun for the kids.

According to Wikipedia “Marlinspike Hall first appears in The Secret of the Unicorn as the home of the story’s villains, the Bird Brothers. At the end of Red Rackham’s Treasure, the manor (found to have been built by an illustrious ancestor of Haddock’s) is purchased by Professor Calculus on behalf of the Captain; the fabled treasure itself is found hidden in the manor’s old chapel, in the cellars. In the following years, Marlinspike provides a home base for Tintin and Haddock in between their various adventures. In The Castafiore Emerald, virtually all of the action takes place in the hall, its grounds, or the surrounding countryside.”

We don’t have the “soupe des chiens” but we are celebrating Tintin and Belgian culture at our libraries all through October.

Getting a movie fix

CoverPost quakes I have been movie-starved with all my favourite cinemas out of action. In the last month as part of a major “pull yourself together and get on with it”, I have been watching more movies including two visits to actual cinemas (one was to a popcorn palace I wouldn’t normally frequent).

I’ve also watched movies on television and borrowed some from our library collection which I now realise is quite varied and extensive.

Just look at the range in the latest arrivals  in the last month. A fistful of dollars, Giant, Pale rider, Hawaii – some oldies there. Then more recent releases like Tron legacy, Sister smile, Seraphine,  Silent wedding.

Actors from Ricky Gervais to Maggie Smith to John Malkovich to Julie Andrews. Directors from George Stevens to Costa-Gravas to Sergio Leone to Stephen Frears.

I’m looking forward to the New Zealand International Film Festival but in the meantime – the library movie collection is my happy place.

The Displaced Reader: Brilliant views and free wireless at New Brighton

Library neighbour the PierMy usual library haunt is out of action so as part of my personal quake recovery plan I’ve  decided to become a library tourist. I’m visiting  all the Christchurch City Libraries that are open. This means eleven libraries to visit!  I began on the east side by visiting  New Brighton Library and it was a great trip.

New Brighton is a lovely bright library, with fabulous views of beach and pier, cheerful, helpful staff and heaps of computers. Looking around an unfamiliar library the collection seems new and fresh and I quickly zoomed in on a travel guide for Sydney.  What a great place to chill out with a book or a great CD on one of their listening posts with a view.  New Brighton also has free wifi. Like any good tourist I had my camera and took some happy snaps of New Brighton.

Getting there  I took Pages Road. The traffic flow was good, despite roadworks. Nearer New Brighton the road was still bumpy but that’s a fact of life these days. There is plenty of parking on Hawke Street, just a short walk from the library. Some Brighton shops are looking a bit battered but there is still heaps of useful retail – supermarket, chemist, bookshop, cafes, hardware, surf gear and so on. My best buys? Cabbage plants at the hardware store, then a good coffee and Trade Aid dark chocolate at the  coffee roastery. The pier is open and the beach offers great walking.

Make a trip to the east side – it’s worth it.

Find out which libraries are open and learn m0re about New Brighton  Library.

Next stop on the library tour is Parklands, a cool, laid back modern library with a cafe. Keep following the Displaced Reader on her travels.