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

From Skype to origami – People do amazing things at the library

People do amazing things inside (and outside) the library.

I was talking to a customer at my library yesterday, and he said, “Goodness, look at all those computers! Aren’t libraries supposed to be all about books? What are those people doing here?” Turned out he hadn’t visited a library for a few years, so we chatted for a bit about the changing nature of life, the universe and everything.

After he’d gone, I went for a walk around the shelves, and found all sorts of things going on this customer might raise his eyebrows at. Our libraries today are full of people not just practicing silent reading, but Skyping, typing, playing online games, writing CVs, learning languages, listening to music, watching movies, doing origami, playing chess, knitting, drinking coffee and just hanging out with friends. We have art displays, writer events, and great competitions (The Summertime Reading Club for kids has a photo comp and a colouring comp too). Information is passed along, not just via words on paper, but through e-learning, interactive classes, displays, events, websites, and more.

Not only that, but libraries are hitting the street (and the interwebs). Our new mobile vans are wherever you are in the city, we have e-books and audio books that you can take with you to the ends of the earth, and you can drop into any library and get help with all your informationy needs. Librarians go out to schools, playgroups and community events.  Apparently we even channel our inner librarian on the street – I can’t count the number of times I’ve been asked for information/directions/explanations, and I know that it happens to other librarians too. Is it the glasses? Or do we just look like we know everything?

Whatever naysayers might think they know about libraries, let’s keep proving them wrong – let’s keep our buildings full of people doing all sorts of glorious and amazing things, through the 21st century and beyond.

PS.  If you’re interested in finding out about all the things happening in and around libraries, start here with our Events Calendar, and remember to also keep an eye on the website and the blog, check out posters and displays in the library, or even easier – ask your librarian!

On the buses: David Welch

David and the mobile busWe are about to enter an exciting new era for our Mobile Library. Two mobile library vans will service the community, from Monday 3 December 2012. Rotary New Zealand sought and received funding for the vans, which help fill the gaps left in library services after the earthquakes forced the closure of several libraries. One van is funded by Rotary International, and the other van is funded through a partnership with Rotary International and the Cotton On Foundation.

Library assistant David Welch is about to celebrate a milestone too –  he has been a Mobile Library driver since 23 November 1993. His last day on the big bus, before the move to vans, will be on 22 November.

Things have changed a lot since then. Community libraries have opened in areas previously only serviced by the buses (Linwood, Parklands, Upper Riccarton). Back in the 90s, the  Mobile Library was not online, and couldn’t retrieve borrower files, and they were owners of the original brick style cellphones to communicate with  libraries. With less direct connection to the library system David says the Mobile “often felt quite isolated, like the last mission station up the Amazon” – a great bastion of culture scooting round the streets.

David reckons three quarters of the customers are regulars. The Mobile Library staff get to know their customers well, and can watch out for books and authors they like. What qualities should Mobile Library staff have? The ability to “think on their feet” and “keep familiar with the stock”.

He has lots of stories from the Christchurch streets. Once he was taking his tea break on the park bench on the corner of Waltham Road and Hastings Street when five police cars screamed up and pointed pistols at a car. They were catching someone who had shot a person in a drug deal gone wrong.  A policemen retrieved a pistol off the front seat of the arrested man’s car.

David will miss the big bus: “There is no place in the world feels more comfortable”. He has driven a heavy vehicle almost every week since 1977.

Mobile LibraryMobile LibraryMobile LibraryMobile OneMobile ModelsMobile Two
Inside the busMobile 2 Avonhead RoadRefurbished Mobile LibraryAffirm 2009Mobile LibraryInside the Mobile Library

Library news

Please visit our Library News page for links to recent news, library events  and  media releases.  Our customer alerts page has information on any short-notice or planned maintenance events that may affect the services that we offer to our customers.

The Displaced Reader: Mobile Library with a high vis vest

Shout out for Mobile LibraryWhen I heard that the Mobile Library was going to be doing a special post-earthquake stop in my neighbourhood, I was excited. I liked the idea of going for a walk and climbing the steps into a bus. A bus! I love those promotional buses that sometimes park up in the Square and have great displays; I’m a sometime bus commuter and I used to own a housebus – so I consider myself a bus person.

The Mobile Library met all my expectations and more. I found titles just jumped out at me and there was a certain cameraderie from sharing such a small space. Conversations were easy to get into. This little photo collection of the Mobile Library will give you an idea what to expect.

Shopping has some possibilities as well. Of course the Palms is closed but why not visit the shopping centre on the corner of Hills and Shirley Roads. There is a certain famous butcher, a chemist, a bakery, a sweet shop and takeaways – everything you need in these stressful times.

The Mobile Library is going to Shirley Intermediate on Saturdays from 9.30am to 4.30pm and is also operating in the carpark of the  Christchurch City Council Linwood Service Centre on Smith Street, on Mondays and Wednesdays from 9.30am-4.30pm. Look for the blue library open flag and the bus that already has its own high-vis vest.

Find out which libraries are open and where the Mobile Library gets to around the city.

OK – I’ve been to small and beautiful, now I’m going to try large and beautiful by visiting South Library. Find out where the  Displaced Reader has been on her travels.

Mobile Library operating today and tomorrow

The Mobile Library is running today Friday 10 September (Week 2 of the timetable), and tomorrow.

  • Opawa Rd  – Between Grange Street and Garlands Road 12.50-1.35
  • Opawa Rd – Between Reeves Road and Cholmondeley Avenue 1.45- 2.30
  • Rutherford Street – Between Barton Street and the Heathcote River 2.55- 3.40

With the agreement of the Eastgate Mall management the Mobile Library will also be open for library service in the Eastgate Mall car park on Saturday 11 Sept 10.00 am – 1.00pm and again on Monday 13 Sept 11.45am -1.15pm.

For the latest information, please visit our news alerts page on the library website.

Library Week photos #1 – Libraries on wheels

We are sharing some photos of our libraries, to celebrate Library Week
The Mobile Library connects the community with Christchurch City Libraries – here are some images of buses of the past.



View more Mobile Library images on our Flickr site