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

Crafts at the library: Picturing Canterbury

Crafts at the Library
Crafts at the library.

New Vauxhall Victor at new University: Picturing Canterbury

New Vauxhall Victor at new university

February 1965: This photo was commissioned by Farmers Motors to display the newly released Vauxhall Victor.  Several of us were enlisted to show that the vehicle was a true 6 seater.  The photo  was taken outside the Engineering Building at the new Ilam University site.

Corsets: Picturing Canterbury


An advertisement for corsets sold by J. Ballantyne & Co., Christchurch and Timaru

Car trouble: Picturing Canterbury

Car Trouble, 1960s

c. 1964 “My father (Gus Watts) and Ralph, fixing our troublesome car”.

The Displaced Reader: Hornby is a hub post quake

When it is wet people flock into libraries – Hornby Library was certainly busy when I ventured across town on a grey and drizzly afternoon. Getting there was a feat in itself – lots of patient sitting in traffic and then a real search for a carpark.  The library has its own generous carpark but I suspect it was being used by more than library customers.

Anyway, inside it was all go, with the computer area absolutely full. I loved the bright green chairs dotted around the library. There was plenty of good reading to choose from and this was clearly a busy community place. There seemed to be two gents working on business plans at one table, and at the counter a mum lifted a little girl up so she could get a special stamp on her hand.

This would be a great destination for a shopping and library trip. The librarians confirmed there were several cafe options nearby including the recommendation that “some people swear by the coffee at McDonald’s”.

As well as free WiFi Hornby now has extended opening hours:

  • Monday to Friday: 9.00am to 7.00pm
  • Saturday and Sunday: 9.00am to 5.00pm

Find out which libraries are open and learn more about Hornby Library.

Next stop on the library tour is Lyttelton Library, which Joe Bennett once described as being “painted the colour of fresh lung tissue”, so keep following the Displaced Reader on her travels.

The Displaced Reader: Spreydon Library is like a tree house

With autumn here Barrington Park is a picture as you walk to Spreydon Library next door. Once inside you get that tree house feeling especially as you climb the stairs and see the autumn colours through the skylight windows.

This is a unique library (see my photos) – a seventies building given a 21st century makeover with an interesting skylight over the mezzanine floor and a reassuring amount of exposed steel beams. It also has a lift to make access to the fiction collection upstairs easy.

Downstairs the windows give views out to the park, there is a spacious deck with seating and a bright children’s space. I loved the use of orange and aubergine around the walls. Free WiFi makes this a nice place to visit with your laptop too.

There seemed to be tons of fiction to choose from and I swooped on the latest Donna Leon from the bestsellers and an old fave DVD (Since Otar Left which has an amazing 80-plus year-old actress stealing the scenes). Just the thing with a wet weekend forecast.

Depending on which way you travel to Spreydon Library there could be heavy traffic, especially coming across from north to south. I parked on Barrington Street without too much trouble but there is also the Barrington Mall car park next door. The mall seemed pretty busy, with cars coming and going. There’s a cafe nearby if you need a fix and a playground in the park very close to the library.

Find out which libraries are open and learn more about Spreydon Library

Next stop on the library tour is Hornby, which is in one of the busiest parts of the city, so keep following the Displaced Reader on her travels.

Get ya geek on: Really useful resources for NCEA Māori

Cover image of "Te Hikuwai"Are you studying NCEA Māori this year? Ka rawe!

Learn te reo Māori

We have a bunch of great Māori language courses in our collection, which you can borrow from one of our community libraries now open.

Other helpful websites

So where did we find these great resources? On The Pulse, the library’s website for teens.

The Displaced Reader: Redwood Library, octagonal treasure

Redwood Post quakeIt was a lovely sunny morning but I was in the dark finding Redwood Library. The route to it was perfectly clear but picking up the location and the car park entrance as I rattled along the Main North Road in busy traffic was a bit stressful. I turned into the car park (and out again – it was full) and managed to find a car park along the road a bit.

Parking angst over I found myself in a small but light and airy library. With octagonal design, high roof and high windows all round, Redwood feels spacious. Set back from the street, traffic noise doesn’t intrude. There is bright artwork on the walls and suspended from the ceiling.That morning there was good music playing and comfortable chairs in corners. The place had a pleasant hum of business and I could have happily settled down with a book or magazine. It is a comfortable community place with thoughtful touches like the adult height door release button to activate the sliding zig-zag front doors – stops the littlies running out on to a busy street.

Visiting Redwood would make a good combined shopping and library trip as it is not far from Northlands Mall and Northwood shopping centre. There is a cafe across the road as well. It is easily accessible via major roads but note there is a bus lane outside from 3pm to 6pm.

Find out which libraries are open
and learn more about Redwood Library.

Next stop on the library tour is Spreydon, which feels a bit like a tree house with its beautiful park outlook, so keep following the Displaced Reader on her travels.

The Displaced Reader: If you like trees visit Bishopdale Library

I’d heard that Bishopdale Library and the mall it is part of had been very busy since it reopened. I wondered how I would get on for parking but found no problems as I used the Farrington Avenue car park which has two entrances. I was immediately struck by how many enormous and beautiful trees there were in the vicinity. Many were going through their autumn colours and they definitely soften the otherwise ugly mall. (Is there a beautiful mall anywhere?)

The library shares its digs with a community centre. You go in through a shared foyer and then suddenly you are in a very busy space. The library was humming when I arrived with people using computers and poring intently over their book choices. The colour scheme features orange and blue and this distinctive carving on the wall. The librarians were kept pretty busy but I noticed that they still had time for a chat with customers. There was plenty to choose from and a spacious children’s area.

After my visit I had a quick cruise around the shops in the mall which include a real butcher, fish shop and fruit and vege shop as well as a supermarket. Best buys – lamb shanks and the winning lotto ticket (Tui moment). I’m told there is good coffee in the area – just ask the librarians.

I found getting to Bishopdale via Harewood Road pretty straightforward. Traffic was brisk but the roads were ok. The whole mall is surrounded by a number of carparks so it would be easy to come from another direction too.

Find out which libraries are open and learn more about Bishopdale Library.

Next stop on the library tour is Redwood, a bright little octagonal building on the north side of the city. Keep following the Displaced Reader on her travels.