The Displaced Reader: on the Mobile Library

Post-quakes, the Displaced Reader reported back from several of our libraries, spurred on by the temporary closure of various of our buildings. Most of our libraries are now open, however we got Tania to wear the mantle of Displaced Reader to experience a day on the Mobile Library. Here’s her account.

Photo of librarian Sarah reading a magazine in the Library Mobile van.
Library assistant Sarah enjoys a break.

Today I’m heading out with Sarah on the Mobile Library. It’s a perfect sunny day.

We have to get organised to leave; most importantly we get the thermos flasks, coffee and milk ready for afternoon tea – it feels like we are packing up for a picnic. Oh, and don’t forget the extra crate of children’s books for today’s stops.

The two vans are lovely and bright. Although the van I get on seems rather small from the outside, I am amazed at how big it is inside! I think it’s like a Tardis but for books. It’s full of bright shiny nice books, DVDs, magazines and more – something for everyone.

Time to go. We head out through the hustle and bustle of Christchurch traffic with the odd crash from the back as something goes flying; that’s bumpy Christchurch roads for you. Now we are passing paddocks with little spring lambs (oh, so cute), and a lot of diggers and trucks (not so cute).

As we approach our first stop I find myself in charge of the CD player. OK, music on, then “flick that switch” says Sarah: a blast of music bursts from outside the van. Cool! I feel like we are an ice cream van piping out music to herald our arrival.

We get set up, and on come the first lot of kids. Sarah is helping the kids find what they want; trains and fairies seem to be the top choices today. I’m in charge of the issues/returns/ everything desk; I busily discharge the returns, while everyone makes their choices. This is bliss basking in the sun behind the desk; I can’t say I’ve ever been able to do that at any other library. We say bye to the first stop; time to head to the next stop.

Photo of the interior of the Mobile Library van
Shiny new books on the Mobile Library

There are cars for miles, and then I spot them: two cones strategically placed at the school gates. Sarah whizzes in to the park. School’s out, and it’s all go. Mums, Dads and kids all file in; time for their weekly library fix. Zip zap goes the issues machine: books, DVDs and magazines galore. Most of the kids have their own book bags, although Mums and Dads come in handy when they are filled and heavy.

3:30 and the school rush is over.

I now get chance to have a look around. I’m amazed at how they fit a bit of everything for everyone in: oh, look, a dog training book – just what I need. It all seems quite shiny and new. Sarah explains that because the Mobiles are the smallest libraries in the network they try to keep the best stock on board. The stock gets changed regularly to keep it all fresh and is also changed for different stops, depending on the customers’ tastes.

I had fun today working on the Mobile Library and definitely recommend you stop in for a visit. Check out the timetable for times and locations.

Library Assistant
Offsite Delivery Team

The Displaced Reader gets arty

Cover of FacebooksSometimes, if we’ve been good, librarians are allowed out to go visit other libraries. And sometimes, when we’ve been particularly amazing, we get to go to special places – places that may not be open to the public in the same way that, say, the Central Library Peterborough or the Linwood Library at Eastgate or Upper Riccarton libraries are.

The Christchurch Art Gallery library is one of those places, and recently a group of us went there for a visit. Located in the middle of the Art Gallery building, it’s a bit like the Gallery itself: closed but open. You can’t just wander in and poke around, but you CAN call the Gallery and make an appointment.

Fernbank Studio: away past elsewhereSo why would you do this?  People who visit here are looking for a deeper level of information than you might find on the shelf at your local library. If you are interested in art (and by interested, I mean you’ve looked at all the fantastic art books that the public library have, and still want more; or you are researching local artists both past and present, or want to know the background to the story behind the latest Court Theatre production), it’s THE place to go. There are specialist books and magazines, archives full of ephemera relating to artists and exhibitions, folders of press clippings and more.

The collection itself is primarily focused, naturally, on areas related to the Art Gallery, so you probably won’t find heaps of information on, say, the Italian Renaissance, but you WILL find, for example, things related to Picasso’s lithographs, because the Gallery owns one of them.

So for anyone with a deeper interest in all things arty, or a need for specialist help in specific areas, you could do no better than to arrange a visit – the librarian is warm and welcoming, and not at all scary, and there are treasures untold waiting to be discovered!

Displaced reader hits the North West

I didn’t have to travel very far at all to get to Papanui Library – the “best little library in the North West”. No nice little road trips and ice creams for me (not that I’m bitter or anything). I used to inhabit the Central Library, but 2011 took me to South, Linwood and now the Fingertip Library, which is located just behind Papanui Library. It’s a very convenient location with all kinds of shopping just outside the door and a great big car park right beside the library.

I’m impressed by the very up-to-the-minute décor featuring eggshell blue/red combinations and a photographic mural of a high rise city at night. Spots, stripes and patterns are mixed together in the soft furnishings to create a sophisticated and satisfying background. In the returns area hangs a rather lovely sculpture donated by some Invercargill artists. Not that I can see much of all this – it’s obscured by all the people.

Children enjoy Andy Wright's storytelling

I’m used to busy libraries, but Papanui is really buzzing. The children’s corner is crammed with entranced littlies chanting “he walked and he walked and he walked and he walked” as they join in with the story performed (and I mean performed) by professional storyteller Andy Wright.

The new smart issue stations are surrounded by people getting their books out, or being guided through the process by a bevy of librarians. Down in the children’s area, the kids are absorbed in the same process using Archie The Penguin. The shelves are full of people browsing and all the tables and computers are in use.

Closed libraries apart, I can understand why this is library people like to visit. It has nice Bestseller and magazine collections, substantial amounts of  fiction and non-fiction to choose from and yes – good sources of coffee and even lunch places and bars in the vicinity. You could combine your trip with a chance to cross some of those purchases off your to-do list, or have a browse around the shops.

Peterborough’s the name of my latest flame – The Displaced Reader goes to town

Reading in the kids section

I just spotted a tweet from a Christchurch local @AdrienneRewi on our new Central Library Peterborough:

Have thrown myself through the doors of the new Peterborough St Library like a half-starved piglet. Can hardly carry my haul.
Yes, there is something about our new library that causes paroxysms o’ delights in library users (me included).
Why? Here are some of its selling points.
  • It’s great to have our Maori and Family history collections back.
  • Location, location. It’s in town. And very much within walking distance for people in St Albans etc too.
  • Great space and stuff for kids. Lots of picture books, DVDs and nice seats to read to your little ones.
  • Maagaaaazinnneeeees. Oh how I’ve missed ogling the Vogues and such.
  • Issue your stuff pirate styleIt’s SMART as heck. You can issue all your own stuff, and pick up your own holds  – and the self checkout offers a variety of language options. Even Pirate lingo.
  • Yummy books, DVDs, CDs – this is a collection of more than 70,000 items.
  • Sounding good. There is something cool about the acoustics of this building. It can have a lot of people in it, but not seem noisy.
  • There are 22 free computers offering free internet access as well as free wifi is available. Along with printing, copying and scanning – extremely handy & well used services.

Maori Simon finds some CDs

Free wifi in actionSo get along and sample its wares.

Have you been? What did you think?

The Displaced Reader finds a home

Central South City Library opening dayYes, folks, it’s true.  Our wandering days may soon be over, at least for a few months.  We are hanging up our car keys and bus tickets, and settling in to the latest (and, we like to think, shiniest) library in Christchurch.  Central South City is where it’s at, tucked into a corner at South City Shopping Centre, right next to the New World supermarket.

At 9am this morning, with eager crowds already waiting outside, we opened the roller door, and welcomed everyone in.  The library is (in what seems to be the phrase of the month) small but perfectly formed, and holds about 7000 items.  Most of these are newer titles, and there’s a range of popular material, including a great DVD collection.  There’s a lovely kids’ corner, complete with climbing monkeys, sparkly palm trees and bins full of picture books.  There are a couple of purple armchairs, and desks for reading or working, and great views of the mall from the big picture window.

Although Central South City won’t have magazines or music collections, we’ve got pretty much everything else that the other bigger libraries have, and by late next week we will also have internet computers, printing facilities and wireless available.  It’s beyond great for this displaced librarian to be back in her natural habitat, and playing with all the shiny new books, and chatting with customers, and doing all the things that librarians do.

All we need now is for you to drop in, check out the new library, have a chat and grab some reading for the weekend.  We’re open 9 to 6 weekdays, and from 10 – 5 weekends, so there’s really no excuse for you not to come.   We’ll even let you buy yourself a cup of coffee at the foodcourt next door when you’re leaving …

The Displaced Reader leaves town

We haven’t even left the city properly, and already I am wondering if this is a mistake.  It’s COLD.  Really really cold, and although there was blue sky earlier, the direction we are heading today looks ominously grey and damp.  Still, I know for a fact that at the end of the road there is at the very least a couple of warm and toasty cafes, and another library waiting.  Surely this is enough to guarantee a great road trip.

And as it turns out, it is!  We are off to Little River, and although the weather is inclement, the scenery is still gorgeous – mist over Lake Ellesmere, fields full of black sheep, and cows (heard of cows?) – one particularly clever cow standing in a wee cave while her friends look jealously in at her from the wet.  I love the road to Little River, and it’s only a short 40 minutes till we are pulling up outside the library.  It’s on the main road, and there is heaps of parking out the back, although you can also park at the cafe and brave the crossing.

The library building shares with a few other groups, and the hours reflect this – open weekdays from 8.30 to 4.30, with a bit of a break for lunch, and Saturday mornings too.  Inside there is not only the expected rows of books, but also a post office, Christchurch City Council service centre, earthquake info, community police, pest control, and something to do with noxious weeds.  The building itself is a bit Tardis-like: so small from the main road, but inside there is room after room, even including a rather splendid boardroom with portraits of august persons peering down at me (although no swimming pool, as far as I can see).

The staff are friendly, and tolerate my silly questions and squee of excitement at finding a mystery door that turns out to be a walk-in safe.  The shelves are full of shiny books, and once again DVDs that I’ve somehow never seen anywhere else.  Like Halswell, Little River offers jigsaws to borrow, and there is also a warm and inviting kid’s area full of picture books and cushions.  Despite the gloom outside the library is sunny and cosy, and we leave (reluctantly) with books and brochures and a promise to call in again soon.

Now, lunch, I think, and a wee spot of arty-fartery in the gallery across the road.    Then home to reality and several piles of laundry.  Still, even a quick mini-break to the Peninsula has done wonders for the spirit, and I cannot recommend it highly enough!

The Displaced Reader heads south(ish)

CHairToday’s library roadtrip is not much of a journey for me – I’m heading to Halswell, only a hop down the road from my place in Addington.  It’s still a nice ride though, enough out of town that there are fields (look! moocows!) and some gaps in suburbia.  I am riding in style, having bribed my mum with offers of cups of tea and scones at a local cafe, but you could just as easily catch the number 7 bus, which currently ends its run right at the library corner before heading back into town.

Our trip takes us past the Halswell shops, with bakery, grocery store, post office and big shiny cafe/bar on the corner.  If we wanted to, we could do all the shopping and organising for the week in one go, but today we are focused on books (and cake).  There’s a good-sized carpark right outside the library, and easy access into the library itself.  Unlike some of the other libraries we’ve visited recently, Halswell is not full of tiny children at Storytimes today, but instead quietly humming along with grown-up customers browsing the shelves or sitting in the sun reading the newspaper.   Big picture windows add the sense of space to a library that is, admittedly, not the largest in the network, but it doesn’t feel at all pokey or crammed.

On the contrary, there are things at Halswell that are in no other library – most notably those chairs.  Anyone who’s visited Halswell will know the chairs I am talking about – items of true beauty indeed!  I am very covetous, and have to restrain myself from stroking them all and purring.  Other bits of special we see – a borrowable jigsaw collection, a big trolley full of books for sale, a picture book area bathed in sunlight, and a very inviting outdoor seating area complete with park bench under a tree.

A couple of books found, a quick lesson in self-issuing for mother (initially reluctant, but then surprised by ease of use!), and we are off for lunch at the Old Vicarage.  Where, amusingly, we are seated in the library.

Next stop, Little River – one of my favourite places in Canterbury, although I’ve never visited the library before.  I wonder if mum is free for lunch …

The REALLY Displaced Reader stays home

Life doesn’t get much more displaced than this, surely.  Our recent jaunts to other libraries have shown us that there are new treasures to be found all over Christchurch, but yesterday’s aftershocks have meant that even these library havens are temporarily not an option, well, at least for the next day or so.

So, how about we take a wee digital trip instead?  For those without power, this is not much of a trip, but if you are at home in Christchurch reading this then I know that you are at least blessed with internet access.

With no school, no polytech and no transport, my house is full of unsettled teens and angsty cats, so we’ve been exploring the wonders of the digital library.  Somehow TV isn’t filling the void right now, and we really do need some distraction, so we’ve all dropped a decade (or more) and have been unashamedly enjoying the online kids’ games and learning site Intrepica.  I’m not proud of the fact that I am LOVING beating the kids at all manner of spelling and maths games, but I’m keeping doing it anyway!  Small joys, right?

And this afternoon I thought we’d have a look at some of the online music libraries.  The boy-child is a jazz fan, and often struggles to figure out what to listen to, so I reckon Jazz Music Library has to be a good place to find something new.  The girl-child is heavily into photography, design and fashion, so we’re also going to explore the Picture Post Historical Archive to get costume design ideas.

And while Mr Bronnypop is currently at work, I’m thinking that when he comes home he might like to try cooking dinner.  He’s not that flash in the kitchen, but surely even HE can manage with the help of the Pulse’s cooking and recipe pages

The displaced reader: Akaroa a welcoming spot

Kaye Matthews
Kaye Matthews-Akaroa

My name is Rob, and I usually work at New Brighton Library, but immediately after the earthquake my family and I moved temporarily to Akaroa.  Akaroa Library was one of the first to open its doors after the February earthquake, and both the town and the library became a haven for many displaced readers.

A truly stunning and scenic hour’s drive from Christchurch, the Akaroa library has all the services of the city branches, but with a seaside peninsula charm all its own.  I went to the library hoping to be able to do something useful for the community and was welcomed with open arms by the staff. I spent three enjoyable weeks listening and talking to all the locals and the many Christchurch refugees. It was great to be able to use the internet, return books and get useful, timely Christchurch City Council information, as well as have access to all the collections available at any of the library’s branches.

Kaye Matthews has worked at the library about 20 years, and is a fountain of local knowledge.  Sadly for us, she is leaving soon, but we hope she will come back and visit often.  If you are out on the peninsula, or would like a change of scenery, Akaroa is a wonderful spot and we think it’s well worth a visit too!

Displaced Reader – Across the bay

Diamond Harbour Library visitThis week they let me out of school early to follow the Displaced Reader on her ongoing  journey to libraries far and wide.

And what a treat!  We started at Lyttelton library (read about our visit here), then skipped across to Diamond Harbour.  It was to have been a nautical jaunt (10 minutes in the ferry, and there’s even a discount for Metrocard holders), but owing to a slight mix-up with expectations about queues and where to wait for ferries, it became a road trip.  Just as good, really, although slightly less damp, and with fewer dolphins.  The weather was gorgeous, the scenery typically beautiful Banks Peninsula, and we passed heaps of interesting places on the way.  If we’d had time, we could have stopped at cafes, pubs, little beaches, Taunton Gardens, Orton Bradley Park, and any number of scenic lookouts.

The road was almost empty, and with little sign of damage from the quake we arrived at Diamond Harbour less than 40 minutes after leaving Lyttelton.  And oh! what a tragedy – 20 minutes until the library opened forced us to stop in at the shop for the biggest icecreams we’ve ever seen.  Sitting in the winter sunshine, looking out over the bay, life felt pretty good.

Dead on 2pm the library opened its doors, and within seconds was full of happy preschoolers and their mums for storytime.  The library is small but well-proportioned, and as with all the branches we’ve been to, full of books and DVDs I swear I’ve not seen before – how does that work?  We chatted to the friendly staff, perused the shelves, checked out a title or two, patted the dogs waiting patiently outside, and set off home again. Some happy snaps were taken to record the day.

I’d thoroughly recommend Diamond Harbour library for  a day out – sun, sea, icecreams and a friendly welcome at the end.  And next time I’m definitely taking the ferry.