Monday, 28 February 2011

It's Oscar Day!

Today we take the opportunity to escape into a bit of glitz and glamour as the Film Industry celebrate their achievements at their annual Academy Awards Ceremony. We can admire (or wonder) at the garmets worn down the red carpet, cheer for our favourites (I am sooo hoping that Colin Firth and The King's Speech feature) and yawn our way through the acceptance speeches.

Although many of the movies featured in the awards today haven't made it to DVD yet, once they do they will join the growing and eclectic collection available at (or by request through) your local library. From rock music (or classical) to classic movies, from children's to documentaries and all the way to the latest releases. There really is something for everyone with 17,534 DVD's (as of today) to choose from. You can find the full list at this catalogue link (and from there start narrowing things down so it is easier to choose).

As well as the autobiographies you can find under Call No. 920 on our non-fiction shelves, we also have a range of books about the film industry. You can delve into subjects from how to make movies, to movies that you shouldn't miss on our non-fiction shelves around Call No. 791.

Also watch out for the new Express Select (or Best Seller) DVD collection which will be coming soon to a library near you. More details to follow.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Top 5 for Friday - Earthquakes

Today's Top Five comes to you courtesy of one of my Auckland Libraries colleagues Tosca, who posted the following list on the Manukau Libraries Top 5 Blog on Wednesday. I forget in my struggles with my own emotions about this disaster, how it must be for our young people. Both those suffering through the personal experience and those watching the TV coverage from afar.

5 books from Manukau Library that I hope will help explain earthquakes to a child and provide ideas for helping
List by Tosca
I, along with the rest of the nation, have spent a good part of the last 24+ hours scouring the internet for snippets of news and updates about the 6.3 magnitude earthquake that affected Christchurch yesterday afternoon. It should not have been a surprise, then, that my nephew Kalani - or Mr. 7 as I call him - came home bursting with questions about earthquakes and volcanoes. And was. So we set some time aside last night to talk about what he knew about earthquakes already, what he'd been told by his teacher and what was actually happening in Christchurch right now. Thanks to numerous online news clips we were able to see how things really are. It left Kalani feeling anxious and concerned - he kept stroking the screen in sympathy - and led to his asking some very technical questions about how earthquakes happen. It left me feeling appalled and saddened and teary eyed. It also made me realise how unprepared I was to discuss seismology with a child and that if I expect him to understand anything about it I need to refresh my own knowledge.

Thanks to Manukau Library I now have a selection of books to look over with Kalani that should, hopefully, answer a lot of questions. Last night I wasn't in a frame of mind to build on his initial questions and encourage him to think of ways in which he and I can help the people of Christchurch so tomorrow night that's what we're going to do - list ways we can help and then actually put them into action. I'd imagine it was a lot for a 7 year old mind to process just before bedtime - it was a lot for me to process and I'm 35 - and so it was a very sombre pyjama-clad boy who said to me: 'I'm glad I'm safe but I'm so very, very sorry for Christchurch.' So am I.

Ordinarily my lists proclaim themselves to be the 'Top 5' of anything and are, more often than not, tongue-in-cheek. Today, I'm simply listing 5 books that I'm hoping will tell me how to explain what happened and provide a 7 year old with some ideas for how we can help.

Otautahi: nga whakaaro aroha me nga inoi atu ki a koutou katoa.

  1. Volcanoes & earthquakes / Ken Rubin - Take a trip below Earth's surface and discover a planet that is alive with molten lava and shaking with continents in motion. See Earth's secrets and witness destructive eruptions and quakes throughout history and find out how we might avoid disaster in the future.Tosca's comment: 3-4 pages with very brief information about the how and why of earthquakes.
  2. Volcano / written by Susanna Van Rose - Be an eyewitness to truly terrifying volcanoes exploding with molten lava, and devastating earthquakes that rip apart the landscape and uproot buildings in an instant.Tosca's comment: Roughly a quarter of the book looks at earthquakes and discusses intensity, magnitude, state of emergency and preparing for disaster.
  3. Earthquakes and volcanoes / Russell Ferrett - From earth-shattering earthquakes to terrifying tsunamis and violent volcanoes, When the Earth Moves looks at how and why these events occur and how they affect our planet.Tosca's comment: Contains a section on the science of earthquakes.
  4. Earthquakes / Judy & Dennis Fradin - "Earthquakes" uses eyewitness accounts and pulse-racing narrative to bring readers into the terrifying heart of an earthquake. The first chapter documents the 1964 Alaskan quake that shook Prince William Sound with a 9.2 magnitude force, and set off a tsunami that ultimately caused most of the deaths attributed to this frightening act of nature. The following chapters explore the deadly history of earthquakes and the seismic and geological science of this phenomenon. Readers learn how and why earthquakes occur, and what scientists can do to prevent casualties. The expansive back matter includes a list of sources to discover more about these fearsome catastrophes.Tosca's comment: Contains witness accounts from scientists, photographers to everyday people. Looks at the science of earthquakes, including the history of famous earthquakes and predicting them.
  5. Earthquakes / by Chris Oxlade - Examines the Earth's physical processes and investigates causes and effects.Tosca's comment: Discusses the effect on buildings and landscape, where they happen and why, advice, predicting and seismology.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Kia Kaha Christchurch

Absolutely dumbstruck. As one of my colleagues said "I half expect the whole world to stop, stunned like I am...". I think for me it was probably made worse because when I think of disasters like this, I think of other places. After all, we have all seen the documentaries of the volcanoes blowing in Auckland, and Wellington being rocked by an earthquake. But even after September and Boxing Day, as bad as that was, I never really thought that Christchurch would be struck and devastated like it was yesterday. The images are more powerful than the words and I can't imagine how it must feel down there after a long cold wet and empty night. As someone else said "Give them a break - How much more can they take".

And while we watch it all unfold there is a feeling of helplessness. What can we do? Here are some ideas:

(a) It would still be great if we stayed off the phone as much as possible - If you can use text message (but not pix). This will leave the networks clear for the emergency personnel and help the power supplies.
(b) Give blood. There have been contradicting reports about this so the best thing to do is to keep track via the NZ Blood Service website. For those in Rodney, the Blood Service are on their regular visits to Albany and Glenfield Wednesday, Thursday and Friday this week if you do want to make a contribution. For times and venues click this link.
(c) Support friends and family who have close ones in Christchurch. If you or anyone you know has people affected, this Web Page has the links you will find helpful, including a People Finder link.
(d) Donate to Red Cross or one of the other support organisations. One initiative that I have just heard of is to go mufti in red and black on Friday to support the city. And just like any other mufti day, pay a gold coin for the privilege, donating it to one of the charities.
(e) Pray... for more miracles, courage and support for the rescue effort and comfort for the survivors.

Arohanui from all your library colleagues and customers in the North.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Gods and Goddesses

I'v always been a bit of a fan of legend and mythology. My favourites are the Arthurian legends and one of the "must see's" on my trip to Britain several years ago was, of course, Tintagel. It was a suitably gray and misty day out on the Coast which did provide me with some sort of atmosphere. However I have to admit to being more than a little disappointed in the touristy (almost plastic) nature of the small village selling souvenirs and trinkets which spoilt the experience somewhat. I would like to go back with more time so that I could explore further and try to capture some of the mystery I had read about.

However, I am getting sidetracked. As well as King Arthur and his knights, I was also a passionate follower of the Greek and Roman Gods. They are still pretty popular today if requests for the latest Percy Jackson books are anything to go by.

One group that weren't so evident in my day were the Norse Gods. However I have a funny feeling there will be a few more people checking them out now that The Almighty Johnsons has hit TV screens. I am already a fan, and find the mix of Norse God with Kiwi Macho man laugh out loud funny.

You can find Mythology (including our Maori legends) on our non-fiction shelves under Call Number 398. Or there are hundreds of fiction novels (adult and children) based on the legends you can read.

Monday, 21 February 2011

It's way too hot!

It is way (way) too hot to start thinking about winter and especially about winter sports. But with the Super 12 rugby starting this weekend just gone and the ANZ netball championships under way for almost two full rounds now, it is inevitable that my time would come. And that is exactly what happened over the weekend as we held our local college netball trials. I didn't get to see much of them of course, as I was fighting the paper war ensuring everyone got their fair chance on court. But if I was hot out in the foyer, I can't imagine what it was like running around in the gym.

Whether you are child or adult, if you want to get a headstart on the season we can help you out at the library.

Netball is my passion (but not quite my obsession although most of my holidays are taken up with tournaments). The link will take you through to coaching books, drills, how to, fiction and biographies of our top players and coaches. I had read my way through everything Rodney Libraries had so I am really looking forward to some of the different titles I can get now we are part of Auckland.

It's a big year for Rugby with the World Cup only a matter of months away. I am a rugby fan as well (although possibly not to the same extent I have been in the past, and it's been so long since I went to watch a game at the local Club, my gumboots have probably perished). There are books for everyone from nipper to champion to couch referee. And a fair spattering of anecdotal titles as well. Some of my favourites are the books highlighting rugby through the lens of Peter Bush.

Rugby League follows closely behind and who wouldn't want to see the Warriors win the NRL. My goal this year is to get to a live Warriors game rather than just sitting and watching it on TV.

Soccer or football (also known as the "beautiful game") is increasing in popularity locally, especially after the efforts of the All Whites at the World Cup last year. Striker, goalkeeper or fan, we will have something for you at the library.

Hockey is not a sport that I know very much about. At school the fields were always muddy and the sticks and balls hurt way too much (although I didn't come off exactly injury free on the netball courts either). However if it is your thing, we have resources for you as well.

Basketball for the elite players (as for many sports) seems to have been going all year. The Breakers gave their fans heart palpitations over the weekend with a double overtime win. For others, the season is just getting started so check out our books and movies with a basketball theme.

We have heaps of fitness and motivation books as well, for both players and coaches. So head along to the library, either in person or on the internet to find what you are looking for.

Ka kite.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Top 5 for Friday - Cookbooks

I have been strongly encouraging anyone who takes a cookbook out of the library to bring us in samples for taste-testing so that we can from personal experience and with our hands on our hearts, recommend the books to other customers.

To date nobody has taken us up on this challenge. Which is probably just as well considering the popularity of this genre and my struggles to keep my waistline within acceptable levels. Which is one of my excuses for not being a baker myself. However when I saw one of our casuals hauling a large bag of cookbooks out of the library I asked for the next best thing. Could she please review and rate the cookbooks for me for the blog. I haven't received any baking, but she took me at my word and here are Karen's top 5 (plus 4) of the latest cookbooks.

Annabel Langbein/The Free Range Cook
Companion title to the recent TV series and further cementing Annabel’s status as a practical and inspiring cook. This book is gorgeous and every page will have you thinking ‘yes, I can make that!!’. I can vouch for the deliciousness of the sticky buns featured on page 13, but only because a good friend now has to make them at every gathering, such is their popularity! Annabel Langbein’s recipes are for sensational looking and tasting food made from seasonal and easily obtained ingredients. A must-have in book in your kitchen if you are reluctant to part with the library copy and thinking of buying your own!

Julie Le Clerc/Made By Hand : natural food to nourish and delight
Another fabulous New Zealand chef and author of several books, currently the food editor for Next magazine. Not only is Julie the creator of these recipes, she is the accomplished photographer of them too. That would be very annoying if they weren’t so delicious…..the Fragrant Rice Picnic Pies on page 34 have been my picnic stand-by the last few weeks and are just as delicious (and go a lot further) when you use normal size muffin tins (silicon makes it a breeze), rather than the Texas-size used in the recipe. Julie Le Clerc states in the forward that she has put together a book of ‘achievable, wholesome recipes using natural foods to nourish and delight’. Mission accomplished. Many of the recipes are gluten, wheat, dairy and egg free (and noted as such) without compromising on taste and the wow factor.

Audrey Gordon/Audrey Gordon’s Tuscan Summer : recipes and recollections from the heart of Italy
If you are suffering from cookbook overload (is there such a thing?!) and feeling woefully inadequate as you defrost yet another instant meal and sprinkle it with dried herbs rather than those plucked fresh from your bountiful kitchen garden, then this book is the perfect tonic. ‘Celebrity chef’ Audrey Gordon presents more than fifty recipes….including her signature dish of 73 Day Slow Roasted Pork. That should give you some idea of the tone of this hilarious romp through the Tuscan countryside, in diary form and including such pearls as ‘many people think that making their own pastry is incredibly difficult and simply beyond them. It probably is’.

Sally Bee/The Secret Ingredient
Deliciously healthy recipes born from the author’s miracle of surviving three heart attacks in a week…….at the young age of 36. With keeping herself alive and healthy firmly in mind, these recipes are nourishing comfort food which your body will thank you for. Lots of everyday recipes for family meals.

Julie Goodwin/Our Family Table
Winner of Australia’s first series of Master Chef, Julie Goodwin endeared herself to viewers with her rise to glory from being an assuming at-home Mum and ardent cook to winning the coveted title and thereby publishing her very own cookbook. Lots of lovely basic recipes with a bit of a twist, perfect for cooking for your family, which was the inspiration behind the title. Probably not as health-conscious as Sally Bee, but variety is the spice of life!

Master Chef Australia : The Cookbook, Volume One
Volume Two
now published, as well as the same for the first New Zealand series of this fantastic show. All the best recipes from the contestants, including detailed instructions on shucking oysters, cutting up crabs and basic vinaigrette recipes etc also. Enjoyable for reading the inspiration behind the creation of some of these recipes and some of the ‘behind the scenes’ anecdotes over what went right and wrong!

Poh Ling Yeow/Poh’s Kitchen : My Cooking Adventures
On the subject of Master Chef Australia, first series contender Poh may not have scooped the prize that Julie Goodwin did, but she came out of the experience with this book and her own television series ‘Poh’s Kitchen’ (screening in New Zealand on Sky’s Food TV channel). Although they sound complicated, the recipes have been created specifically for the home cook – so you too can cook anything from Serunding Daging (Beef floss rendang with turmeric rice) and Orange Chiffon Cake….or so the theory goes. Beautifully photographed and lots of helpful notes from Poh to assist you in your culinary journey with her.

Yotam Ottolenghi/Plenty
Author for years of the ‘New Vegetarian’ column in the UK’s Guardian Weekend, now these divine recipes are brought together in one volume. It is not the most attractively presented cookbook in the world, a very plain cover and not overly imaginative photography, but oh the food…………hard to know where to start, but I am going to make ‘Itamar’s bulghar pilaf’ very soon and probably not share it with anyone. Even the most hardened carnivore would salivate over anything in this book.

Mark McDonough and Dean Brettscneider/The Cook and the Baker
Powerhouse duo Mark McDonough (owner of Auckland’s Zarbo Deli and Café – the ‘cook’) and the ‘baker’ Dean Brettschneider – known to NZ audiences as a judge on New Zealand’s Hottest Home Baker, but known internationally as the Global Baker join forces to produce a book of stylish and innovative recipes. They aim to have home cooks capitalise on seasonal local ingredients and make food full of flavour for others to enjoy. Kumara and Pumpkin Salad with pear maple syrup and yoghurt anyone?

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Find us on the Web

If you are reading this Blog, you have already found Auckland Libraries on the World Wide Web. But we are not the only place on the internet that you can keep up to date with what is happening at Auckland Libraries including recommendations for reading and information on some of the services we provide. So if my unique sense of humour and blogging is not your style, check out some of these other blogs and web pages to see if they are.

Auckland Libraries Blogging
Auckland Central's 'Books in the city' - Introducing Books in the city – the blog for people who can't live without reading. We'll cover news, opinions and special features from the world of books.
Kintalk / Whānau Kōrero - Introducing Kintalk / Whānau Kōrero – the blog to let you know what's happening in the world of family history and genealogy.
Auckland Central's 'Teen blog' - The team is back with a fresh twist on all things teen. Tune in for reviews, interviews and commentary on books, music, movies, life and more.
Auckland Central's 'All things musical' - Matt and Jerome talk about the world of music in and around the libraries. Get news and reviews, pics and sound opinions about our concerts, CDs, collections and resources.
Manukau's 'Top 5 goodies' - Top 5 lists of library resources, created by Tosca and Danielle for Auckland Libraries - Manukau.

Auckland Libraries on Facebook
Auckland City Libraries
Auckland Research Centre
Grey Lynn Library
Rodney Libraries
Manukau Libraries

Auckland Libraries on Twitter
@Auckland_Libs - updated by Jo
@shorelibs - updated by Sean
@rodneylibraries - updated by Anne
@Manukau_Libs - updated by Tosca

AND INTRODUCING (drum roll please) the new Auckland Libraries Facebook Page which brings all your favourite libraries and librarians together to chat, help, recommend and get to know you and what you want from your library. We'll keep you updated with news, highlights, events, eNewsletters and all things library-related. Feel free to leave a query, comment, suggestion or feedback. You can even drop by our page to just say HI.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

The Untouchable Girls

I was one of the crowd at Ascension Vineyard on Sunday night to watch the last stop of the New Zealand tour by the Topp Twins and guests. We had an awesome night sitting on the side of the hill amongst the vines laughing and singing. There may have even been some dancing later in the night. The picnic was great too (no thanks to me - luckily I went with some friends who can cook).

So now I am boring everyone to tears by playing the Topp Twins and other country music. Actually everyone in the workroom enjoys the Topp Twins. Which is quite good because although I bought Grass Highway at the concert, there are several other discs winging their way to me via the Auckland Libraries and our fantastic courier system. I do have a yearning for some Country music (not all of it) and it's great for a girls car trip when you can sing at the top of your voice and there is noone to hear you.

One of their songs is New Zealand Icon. While it is dedicated to their mum and all the rural women of New Zealand, it could just as easily be used to describe themselves. Or some of their other guests. Such as the Hamilton County Bluegrass Band or fiddler (and entertainer) extraordinaire Marion Burns. They were joined by rising talent Tami Neilson and Cameron Luxton (who may or may not be the son of Ken). They played a lot of my favourites including songs like The Devil went down to Georgia and a surprising take on the Tina Turner classic Proud Mary.

But it was Jools and Lynda Topp who were the stars of the Show. By the time they had sung a couple of their classics, a couple of their latest songs and we had brought them back on stage for an encore Untouchable Girls was a fitting end.

Click on the links throughout this blog and it will take you to some of our homegrown talent, plus the best international country music. You can also get your fix of the Topp Twins in print, DVD, video (from their original TV show) and of course music CD.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Romance in the Library

Happy Valentine's Day to everyone. The day romantics everywhere look forward to (and the cynics cringe at). I put myself firmly in the first camp, although if a red rose was to arrive at the library for me I would probably fall over in surprise, as well as having a mystery to solve.

Romance is popular in the library. I am talking about the books on the shelves rather than anything else. Type romance into our catalogue search and you have a choice of 41,448 items. Which should be enough to keep even the most over the top romantic happy. But for the rest of us we may need to whittle it down a bit so that we can find exactly the type of romance we are looking for.

Mills & Boon are just as popular as they ever were and if you haven't picked one up for a few years, probably a litte racier than you remember. Easy to read, escapist and with a happy ending, they have an undeserved reputation in some circles as being unworthy. However if you ask any romantic fiction author who has tried to get their manuscript accepted, the amount of work that goes into them probably isn't that much different to some of the other novels on our general fiction shelves.

Fondly known as the "Bodice Rippers", historical romances are just about all I read at one point. I still pick them up on occasion (and not just in appreciation of the artwork on the covers). Titles such as A Pirate of her Own, Never dare the Duke and Devil of the Highlands bring back memories of the fiction I used to devour. Authors such as Julia Quinn and Stephanie Laurens are prolific and popular.

For those looking for something a little gentler (or as some people put it when they come in to ask for recommendations - something 'nice') Georgette Heyer and Catherine Cookson are as popular as ever, while Barbara Cartland still hangs in there as well. There is also a growing range of Christian romance (both contemporary and historical). Tracey Peterson, Laurain Snelling and Jannette Oke are names to look out for. On the opposite side of the genres, paranormal romance is big at the moment with people like Nalini Singh and Kelley Armstrong.

You can have your romance many different ways at the library. Book, DVD or audio are all available. Or pick up one of our music CD's for some romantic tunes.

I am not so much of an expert on Romance these days as some of my colleagues in Auckland Libraries so the best way to keep up to date is with the Romance e-newsletter which is issued monthly. Sign up for any of our newsletters from our Next Reads page on our website.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Top 5 for Friday - Gong hei fatt choy!

As part of the Libraries celebration for Chinese New Year, I made a very poor attempt at Chinese pronounciation in my Storytime on Monday. I am sure other librarians around Auckland who are doing the same thing are making a much better job of it than I am. What I can do much better is find some books and other library resources with a Chinese theme to recommend to you for the Friday Top 5.

  1. The Race for the Chinese Zodiac (Gabrielle Wang). "The Jade Emperor has declared a great race: the first animals to cross the river will win a place in the Chinese zodiac. Thirteen animals line up along the shore. But there are only twelve places to be won. Who will miss out?" I told this story on Monday using animal cutouts on my felt board and getting the children to guess animals and make animal noises (my storytimes aren't all that quiet). We had great fun and we now all know why cats hate rats.

  2. Chinese Cinderella (Adeline Yen Mah) The story of a Chinese woman and how she suffered appalling emotional deprivation and rejection by her family as a child growing up in China and Hong Kong. She tells of the consequences in her adult life, above which she rose to make a happy marriage and become a successful doctor in the USA. Falling Leaves is the original book for adults on which Chinese Cinderella is based. One of our most popular teenage autobiographies based on an adult biography that is almost as popular.

  3. The Joy Luck Club (Amy Tan) Four Chinese mothers, who left their native land behind but not their old customs, and their four American-born daughters tell their stories about living life caught between two cultures. The mothers meet up and form their own club to gossip, play mah-jong and exchange memories. Encompassing two generations and a rich blend of Chinese and American history, the story of four struggling, strong women also reveals their daughter's memories and feelings. Whether you want to read, watch or listen to this story, we have all bases covered at the library (including copies in original Chinese)

  4. Tao: On the Road and on the Run in Outlaw China (Aya Goda) Travel deep into the remote western and southern interior of China as protests swirl in the cities and foreigners, especially Japanese, are cloaked with authorities' suspicions. She falls in with the charismati and combative wandering painter Cao, whose work is at the very edge of acceptability as far as the Chinese establishment is concerned. Not a personal recommendation and certainly it doesn't sound like your normal travel story. Which is probably why it appealed to me enough to include in the list.

  5. Atlas of China (National Geographic). With more than 300 full-colour maps and illustrations, this essential new atlas dramatically highlights the tremendous changes occurring within China, the world's fast growing economy and most populus place, as well as their global implications. An Atlas can be large and bulky, or small with not enough detail. I like this one because despite only being 128 pages (i.e. you can lift it in one hand) there are huge amounts of detail and information in it. It covers history, demographics, culture and also has information and street maps for the major cities. Because it comes from National Geographic there is a reputable authority behind the information. People from students to tourists would be able to make use of this Atlas.

That's me for this week. Have a fantastic weekend everyone. Zai Jian (Mandarin). Zoi Geen (Cantonese). Ka kite.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Back to School

The 2011 school year has kicked off. I know this for several reasons:
  • the uniformed children (some tidier than others) gathered at the top of my road as I leave for work in the morning
  • the school buses I have to follow to work every morning
  • the traffic jam that has suddenly sprung up again every morning at the notorious Hill Street intersection (those around Warkworth will know what I am talking about)
  • the sense of peace and tranquility (almost resembling...a library) in the Warkworth Library until 3pm every day

After 3pm every day we kick into high gear as children of all ages come into the library (with or without parents) and hit the shelves or the internet (hopefully for homework purposes). So I thought it was the right time to provide the A-B-C of finding what you want in the library.

A - ASK. Simple isn't it. The easiest way to find the information you want is simply to ask the librarian (we all have name tags so we are reasonably easy to find). We can not only show you where items are but also how to use our catalogues, how books are shelves and even some great Internet resources only library members can access.

B - BUT WAIT THERE'S MORE. Talk to an online Librarian at That's Real Time, Real people and Real help by specially trained librarians who can help you find the information online if you can't make it into the library. As well as logging in for online help, there are also tips here for both students and their parents on how to do research.

C - CHILL. We are not just about homework. If you are just looking for a book to read to relax, how to pull the latest skateboard move, music to listen to or a DVD to watch - we have those to. And we can order in items from any of the 55 Auckland libraries at no charge. If you are doing NCEA English and want to get your credits for Wide-Reading we can help with that as well as our librarians know which books have won awards, are about different cultures and which fit the criteria.

We are here to help, so come into your local library and have a look around. If you haven't been for a while (or before) you might be surprised by what you find.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Our History

Searching for inspiration for today's post, I thought back to what I did on Sunday. Which was sit under some trees in the Auckland Domain with a bunch of librarians from around the region (no prizes for the best plural for a group of librarians, but we would be interested in what you came up with). There was good food, good coffee (the beverage of choice for librarians) and good music from the Jazz band warming up in the Band Rotunda (which meant Sean's banjo was unfortunately superfluos to requirements).

This was followed by a visit to the wonderful Auckland War Memorial Museum (which included a special Waitangi Day presentation by the Museum cultural group which had us in awe at their skill and laughing at their antics). It's been more years than I care to think about since I was at the Museum so I was really looking forward to this part of the day. Starting at the top and working down was a bit sobering, as it covers New Zealand (and the world) at war. Looking at our history in terms of warfare, I made the comment to a colleague that it seems we are defined by war. She pointed out that we weren't that different from most other countries in this.

I avoided the Avondale spiders in the Weird and Wonderful exhibit, jumped when the floor did in the Volcano house (even though I knew it was coming) and marvelled at the carving and weaving in the Maori Exhibition Hall. The special exhibition on Rudall Hayward (called the father of New Zealand film) was fascinating with clips from his movies. And I really only got around half the museum at best.

As usual, lots of what I observed will be followed up by some reading in the library over the next few weeks. That's the relationship between all the facilities around Auckland and the libraries. You can always come back to us at your leisure and find out more information. We even have books on the Museum itself. It was a great way to spend a sunny summer afternoon (and not just because the Museum was airconditioned).

And just like the Libraries, for Auckland residents and ratepayers, the Museum is free to visit. So put us both on your To Do list for 2011.
(image from the Auckland Museum website)

Monday, 7 February 2011

Ni Hau

Auckland Libraries is kicking off the Year of the Rabbit with 80+ events across Auckland and we are joining in with displays so that you can check what animal is you are in the Chinese Calendar. We are also holding Chinese Storytimes for the preschoolers and I have just finished telling the Warkworth children and parents about the legend behind the Chinese Zodiac as well as telling them a little bit about the traditions celebrated on this occasion.

Other storytimes in the Rodney area include:
10:30am - 11am, Tuesday 8 February - Mahurangi East Library
10:30am - 11am, Wednesday 9 February - Wellsford Library
10:30am - 11am, Wednesday 9 February - Whangaparaoa Library
11am - 11:30am, Thursday 10 February - Orewa Library

Chinese New Year continues for two weeks and you can join us in libraries across Auckland for demonstrations and workshops, Chinese Digital Community web tutorials, storytimes and rhyme time, plus music and dance performances. You can even go on the Chinese Digital Community for your chance to win dinner at a top Chinese restaurant!

Auckland Libraries’ sister website, the Chinese Digital Community, is a repository of heritage and cultural information about New Zealand’s Chinese community.
Find out all about:
Great Chinese books and films at Auckland Libraries – includes contemporary Chinese fiction, awesome cookbooks, movie and kung fu hits, famous Chinese personalities, and the latest Chinese book titles
Chinese history or family history resources at Auckland Libraries
Astrological predictions for the Year of the Rabbit – find out how this year will pan out for you
The Favourite Family Recipe competition – win one of three $100 vouchers to use at Grand Harbour Chinese Restaurant, one of Auckland's finest.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Top 5 for Friday - Waitangi Day

"He iwi tahi tatou" - "We are now one people".

These are the words that Hobson purportedly spoke to each Chief on the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840. I wonder what these words meant to him back then, and to those around him. Now, in the 21st Century we are still struggling to agree on a meaning and how far we have come (and in some observer's opinions receeded again) in achieving the goal. Personally, I wish that we could truly celebrate Waitangi Day as a national day and celebrate our uniqueness and unity (although I struggle, as do many, with finding a fixed picture of exactly what our 'oneness' should look like).

In terms of what the Library has to offer for Waitangi Day, today's Top 5 for Friday starts with the children and highlights the Treaty in many different formats.
  1. The Treaty House by LeAnne Orams (illustrated by Roger Twiname). Journey with Olley as he learns not only is the Treaty house special, but so are the events that have happened in and around it, events that have shaped New Zealand to become the nation Olley is part of today. Suggested level: junior, primary. This picture book is a little wordy for a storytime session with a big group, but is a great title to sit down with your children and introduce them to our history.
  2. Mission girl : the writings of Atapo, Paihia, c.1840 by Fleur Beale. Originally published as: A new song in the land. 2004. (My story series). Atapo, a young Māori girl, tells her story, from her capture and slavery as a young child through to her escape to the mission house in the Bay of Islands as a 14-year-old. Here she learns the new ways and language that means she is present at the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. Although born into an important family her capture has meant she has lost her standing in her tribe, but she hopes the new skills she has acquired will mean she can return home with her head held high. Suggested level: intermediate, junior secondary. I love the My story series as they delve into our history in diary form but from the point of view of the children who witnessed the events.
  3. Canvassing the Treaty [DVD videorecording] : six New Zealand artists explore our history and create shared visions for our future / directed by Jane Reeves ; produced by Kay Ellmers. The documentary is about a group of artists (Maori and non-Maori) exploring the Treaty. Three pairs of artists of various cultural backgrounds and artistic styles are challenged to create collaborative artworks in response to the Treaty of Waitangi. Guiding them are Ngāpuhi kaumatua Kingi Taurua and treaty educators, Moana Jackson and Ingrid Huygens ... With stunning locations, eclectic artistic visions and provocative discussion, Canvassing the Treaty offers a fresh look at the legacy of the Treaty of Waitangi, through artists' eyes. I haven't seen this but when I was looking for an artists perspective of the Treaty it appealed, not only from an artistic point of view but also because of the collaborative nature and future visions. It will be going onto my viewing list.
  4. An illustrated history of the Treaty of Waitangi / Claudia Orange. This account begins before the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840 and tells the story to the present day. This edition covers the challenges and settlements of the last decade of the 20th century, and includes photographs, paintings and drawings - including copies of the treaties themselves. This is just one of the many non-fiction books on our shelves dealing with the Treaty of Waitangi. I have to confess to a slight bias in including it on today's Top 5 as apparently the author is a cousin of mine (several times removed). I was unaware of this fact during my study at Auckland University. But my mother has the magic power to produce a relative for me wherever in the country I may be so VOILA! Which just goes to show what a small country this actually is.
  5. Digital Resources Combined Database Search. Our digital library of electronic databases has a wealth of information at your fingertips if you can't physically make it into the library. The most up to date news articles and editorials from around the country as well as historic pieces such as the 1934 celebrations. You need to play with this to find exactly what you are looking for but there are some very interesting looking titles, especially looking at New Zealand from an international perspective if you do a Combined search using the History databases.

So that's my top 5 for Friday. Have an awesome Waitangi Weekend everyone. I am hoping to get together with some librarian friends and we are going to hit the Auckland Museum, something I have been keen to do for a long time. I'm sure it will give me inspiration for more blogs next week. Ka kite

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

God Save the King

Once again a trip to the movies has both utterly enthralled me, and proved how lacking my knowledge is. First, I was absolutely blown away by The King's Speech over the long weekend (despite reservations that all the hype and build up may have left me disappointed). I'm not sure if you were supposed to, but I shed a tear watching Colin Firth as King George VI, struggle to complete a full sentence in the face of bullying, ridicule and some rather silly supposed remedies. The script was tight with some fantastic one-liners delivered with aplomb and superb timing by the cast including Helen Bonham-Carter and Geoffrey Rush. Enough superlatives - but if you miss it at the movies, make sure you catch it when it is released on DVD. Or you can request the book of the movie The King's Speech: how one man saved the British Monarchy / Mark Logue and Peter Conradi which is based on the recently discovered diaries and notes of Lione Logue (but you may have to wait as there is a bit of a list at the moment).

However, secondly, it revealed that although I already knew some of the story (George V dies, Edward abdicates for Mrs Simpson, the new Queen Elizabeth never forgives her and Bertie has a stammer which he overcomes), there were facts in the story I had no idea of. For instance (and most glaringly) I had never given much thought to the rest of the family and was surprised to learn through the film that there was at least one younger brother (John who suffered from epilepsy and died at a young age). On further investigation I found that he in fact came from a family of six children. After Edward and himself, came Mary, Henry, George and John. I also learnt that he was naturally left handed and had to suffer nasty nannies and metal splints to cure knock knees.

To find out more about King George VI check out this keyword search link to our classic catalogue. Our Digital Library history resources would make another good starting point.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Long live the pyramids

Some of the saddest news over the weekend came from Egypt. The unrest and deaths surrounding the call for the President Hosni Mubarak to step down is bad enough but it was heart rending to hear that some priceless and irreplacable relics from Egypt's (and the worlds) past were being looted and destroyed under cover of the chaos. As both a librarian and a lover of the history, the disrespect of such actions is appalling to me. Losing items from our history, means that we lose some of the ties to the lessons that history can teach us. And to lose them in such a fashion, really just proves the point.

However, it is also heartening to hear that ordinary citizens are rallying to protect the treasures. This National Geographic news article from yesterday provides some up to date information, especially in relation to preservation of antiquities.

Egypt is a fascinating country. It has never been my first choice of a place to visit, but I have a friend who loves the place and it's history. A couple of years ago she took the opportunity and visited the country, returning with rave reviews. Along with the pictures of her on camels in the desert and horses at the pyramids were recollections of experiences with the markets, the historic sites, the food, the Nile and the people. Visiting Egypt at the moment is pretty much out of the question, but you can still indulge your passion (or interest) for things Egyptian through the Library.

A Keyword search in the catalogue produces results at both child and adult levels (71 pages of results). However you can narrow this down to:

A Subject Search in the catalogue allows you to narrow your search down as well. Egyptian History is a good start for both ancient and modern history. And of course most news websites are carrying news of the on-going troubles.