Friday, 31 December 2010

My Top 5 for 2010

Being Friday, it's time for the Top 5. So I wandered back through my reading list for 2010 and pondered what were the standouts for the year. It has been a strange year of reading (too many text books and scholarly articles) and without referring to my list, nothing really stood out in the way titles did in 2009. However on going back I did remember some gems. The following list is based primarily on the "I can't put it down" or the "I NEED to know what happened next" criteria.

Still Alice by Lisa Genova was recommended to me by the ladies at the Village Bookshop, Matakana and it was certainly right up there. Fifty-year-old Alice Howland, a Harvard professor of cognitive psychology, is at the top of her game. Her kids are grown, her marriage secure, her career on fire, when - after mere months of forgetfulness - she finds herself in the rapidly downward spiral of early onset Alzheimers' disease. With no cure or treatment, Alice struggles to find meaning and purpose in her everyday life as her concept of self slips away. Lisa has a new book due out next year and I am looking forward to that.

Billy T: The Life and Times of Billy T James by Matt Elliott. Of course, I know what happens in this story of one of our favourite comedians. But I still couldn't put it down. This isn't just a tale of a larger than life character, but also of the comedy and entertainment scene in New Zealand. An exceptionally enjoyable insight.

Cry of the Taniwha by Des Hunt. In my humble opinion, this is Des Hunt's best book to date. Matt Logan isn't looking forward to spending the school holidays in Rotorua with his grandmother and her new husband. Matt has taken his metal detector along, and when he and Juzza - the boy next door - unearth a handcuffed skeleton, a dangerous chain of events begins to coil around them. Des is one of my favourite Kiwi authors, especially for the reluctant boy readers (although there is something in here for everyone). A brilliant mix of one of the biggest bangs in New Zealand history with current culture with some good old fashioned adventure storytelling.

Return of the Prophet by Greig Beck. Speaking of big bangs, this book starts with one and the action doesn't stop until the last page. During experiments to enrich uranium in a secret laboratory buried below the ancient Persian ruins of Persepolis, a freak accident with new laser technology accelerates atoms to a speed of light and forces particle collisions that generates the most powerful entity in our universe, a black hole. This is not my usual type of read but I really enjoyed both it and it's predecessor. Boys (and girls) own adventure for grownups.

Room by Emma Donoghue. I have only just finished reading this Man Booker award winning 2010 novel (as in 11pm last night so it definitely comes under both categories to get on this list). It's Jack's birthday, and he's excited about turning five. Jack lives with his Ma in a room, which has a locked door and a skylight, and measures 12 feet by 12 feet. He loves watching TV, and the cartoon characters he calls friends, but he knows that nothing he sees on screen is truly real - only him, Ma and the things in room. Until the day Ma admits that there's a world outside...Told in Jack's voice, "Room" is the story of a mother and son whose love lets them survive the impossible. I will review it in more detail in the new year, but is a book that is meaningful in it's simplicity. It's power is in resisting over-dramatising the situation and simply telling the tale.

Well that's five so all I am left with is honourable mentions for the Millenium Trilogy (Steig Larsson), Freeing Grace (Charity Norman), The Project (Brian Falkner), Ape House (Sara Gruen) and Navigation (Joy Cowley).

And that's it for 2010. Have a very Happy New Year's Eve. Stay safe and I look forward to talking to you all again in 2011.

Ka kite

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Fairy Tales for Young and Old

Don't be put off by the heading. Jane Yolen is internationally known for her retelling of fairy stories, myths and legends from around the world as well as an award winner for her original tales. She also does a good line in dinosaurs and manners (e.g. How do the dinosaurs eat their food?). In the past few years I have used her picture books for storytimes at the library and enjoyed her childrens and young adults fiction.

It was at a Children's & Teens Librarian book chat that I was recommended her adult novel Except the Queen written in collaboration with Midori Snyder. If I wanted to go over the top with my alliteration it is a fantastic fantasy fable of two fairy sisters thrown out of their fey home and into the world of (gasp) humans. To make matters even worse, they are separated from each other and there is a little more going on in the human world that what we can see. Enough of their fairy magic remains for them to read the signs, rescue a couple of lost souls and defend them against the dark. But will them make it home to fairy land... and would they want to go?

Of course, there is a bit more to it than that. Tattoos bind girls to the dark side and bring nightmares. Birds act as messengers and crows are orphan changelings. As well as action, mystery and magic, there is also humour in how the sisters cope with a completely foreign world.

If you want to check out either this book, or any other Jane Yolen title (from picture book to graphic novel, to adult fiction) there are 178 entries on the library catalogue to choose from.


Wednesday, 29 December 2010

A new career in 2011

Have you ever thought of becoming a Librarian? I'm addicted to it. It is interesting and there is something different every day. I get to see lots and lots of books (and to read a few of them). I am a detective, advisor, teacher, friend, researcher, and that's just at the beginning of my day.

The Libraries are always looking for fun and dynamic people with:
- A flair for customer service
- Knowledge or love of books
- The willingness to learn and explore information systems.
These jobs are open to all members of the public and provide a range of interesting and challenging roles that offer great career opportunities.

If you are thinking that a change of career might be on the agenda in 2011 and the Libraries interest you, then bookmark this Jobs page on our website and visit it regularly.

Friday, 24 December 2010

We wish you a Merry Christmas

No Top 5 today. Instead I thought I would treat you to a few front of house (and behind the scenes) photos from 2010 in the libraries.


The Warkworth Library are always game for a dress up and have done so several times this year. The Christmas storytime was not complete without some of the staff getting into the spirit by being impish, fairylike and jolly (that's Gail, Anne and Lisa). Sally and Julie were conveniently away that day.
Mrs Santa travelled around the district trying to track down Santa Claus. She thought she might find him at Warkworth or Whangaparaoa libraries but missed him at both. He is obviously a very busy man at this time of year.



Clifford was a big hit around the libraries in October. He is a regular visitor and entertained children (big and small) all the Rodney libraries over the space of two weeks. Here he is with Merrill at Whangaparaoa Library helping to give out certificates.



Kiwi Author Gavin Bishop visited the Kumeu Library as part of the Storylines Festival in August so Tina and Cathy asked him to pose with them for a photo opportunity. We have some fantastic authors and illustrators producing some exceptional talent.


One of the biggest events that happened in 2010 for the libraries was of course the amalgamation into the biggest library system in Australiasia on 1st November. We didn't just get bigger though. We got better as people throughout the region embraced the new library system with enthusiasm. Over the past few days here in Warkworth Library we have been getting some fantastic feedback from people who are coming to the area to holiday. This year they can use their Auckland, Manukau, Franklin, Papakura or Waitakere library cards to take books out and there are smiles all round.

So the only thing left to say now is have a fantastic and safe festive season. May Santa bring you the goodies you wanted, may the food be good, the beverages cold and have a very Merry Christmas.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

I predict this will be an Award winner

You would have to go a long way to find a better summer read for the 13+ age group that Brian Falkner's new novel The Project. It is a rollicking good adventure story with school boy pranks, spys, soldiers, floods, kidnappings and mysteries to solve. Add to that some excellent research into science and history (although the author notes that "a number of things have been altered for the sake of an exciting story") and you end up with something that I am sure will be on 2011 Notable books lists and short lists for Awards in the New Year.

The tale begins with Luke (a Kiwi school boy who grew up on a farm, can fix anything with a piece of number 8 wire and who has a near photographic memory) and his mate Tommy (a gadget freak and spy in training) in an uncomfortable interview with their Principal after a prank gone wrong. It also involves a Book, which up to that point, they believe to be the most boring book in history and a challenge to them to discover a book that is more boring. A challenge is like a dare to the boys so they can't resist. It leads them into places they have rarely gone before (the library) and places they have never imagined (a hint - Leonardo da Vinci and Hitler).

Although this book is recommended for ages 13+ and placed on the Teen shelves of most Auckland Libraries, it is also suitable for the more advanced readers of the children's fiction shelves. Many of the chapters are short and the pace is fast moving so it would be an ideal read aloud for families. It ticks all the boxes for me and I believe is Brian's best book to date. Five stars.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Both sides of the story

I first heard about Freeing Grace (Charity Norman) from one of our volunteers. By the time my requested copy had arrived on my desk it had also been recommended to me another librarian, a couple of volunteers and one of the local book shops. It was even more appealing with it's subject matter of adoption (as I am lucky enough to have an adopted neice and often ponder the turmoil associated with the process and the people involved).

The Publisher's description calls it Witty, warm and poignant, Freeing Grace tells the story of a young couple: David, the vicar of an inner-city London parish, and Leila, his Nigerian-born wife. Not able to have children of their own, they're desperate for a family, and when they finally hear they' ve just been approved to adopt a young baby, Grace, they are over the moon.

Of course, just like adoption, it is never going to be as straight forward as that and that is the strength of this novel. It is tightly written, with engaging (if sometimes frustrating) characters and provides an insight into the gruelling and often tragic decisions that need to be made in this type of situation. Chapters alternate between Grace's birth family and the life of her family in waiting (we hope). As Christmas approaches people on both sides are hoping for a miracle. It is highly recommended and well worth the read to find out who gets their wish.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Quaky Cat

A new picture book has been rushed off the printing presses in time for Christmas and hit the shops on Friday and it should be on library shelves in the next few days. It is Quaky Cat by Diana Noonan with illustrations by Gavin Bishop and tells the story of a ginger cat who got woken up (with the rest of Christchurch City) very early one morning in September by a very large earthquake.

Bright bold illustrations, easy to read rhyming text and thoughts from Mayor Bob Parker, author Margaret Mahy and TV presenter Jason Gunn (all Canterbury residents) make this a great gift. Equally it is a lively storytime read and it does have a happy ending.

If you do decide to purchase, 50% of the net proceeds go the Canterbury charities. If not, check it out at a library near you.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Feliz Navidad - Meri Kirihimete

If you want to learn how to say Merry Christmas in a different language, Auckland Libraries has books available in over 40 different languages, reflecting the diverse cultures that make Auckland their home.

The community language collections at Auckland Libraries include books, books with tapes, audio cassettes, DVDs, videos, CDs, picture books and magazines. Many collections include resources for both children and adults. Languages include Afrikaans, Arabic, Chinese, Danish, French, Gujarati, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Lao, Polish, Russian, Samoan, Sinhalese, Spanish, Tamil and many more.

Being part of Auckland Libraries means you can now borrow from any of these language collections for free, and it is also free to request any items to be sent to your local library.
The community language resources are shelved separately from the English language collections. You can find these resources at many of our libraries; for more information, check your local library website about collections held in Auckland, Manukau, North Shore and Waitakere.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Five things I'd like in my Christmas stocking

I know what you are thinking. There are probably quite a few more than five things I might like to find in my Christmas stocking and not all of them would fit, be practical and be printable. So in the interests of the discerning library audience, I am restricting today's Top 5 for Friday to things that are for reading, viewing and listening pleasure.
  1. The Passage (Justin Cronin). I am salivating waiting for this book as everyone who has read it has told me how good it is. So I have put it at the top of my Christmas wish list because I can no longer wait (although All Blacks Don't Cry by John Kirwan runs a close second as I have been waiting for that almost as long).
  2. Greatest Moments in NZ Netball History. I'm a netballer. I'm passionate about it. What more needs to be said.
  3. Any Boxed set of DVD's of Doctor Who, Torchwood or Babylon 5 (I'm not fussy - Santa has a choice). I love the way these series now have consistent thread running through each season (which of course is also a ploy to make you watch every single episode in case you miss a clue).
  4. The Gift by Susan Boyle can be playing in the background while I am driving around the country to all those different Christmas dinners, lunches and BBQ's (it should probably be something with more of a beat so I can jump up and down to it in the gym next year getting rid of all the extra calories consumed).
  5. An E-reader so that if I do decide I can have a holiday next year, I don't need to toss out clothes and shoes which won't fit in my suitcase because I need to take some holiday reading.

So from all those catalogues and websites I talked about yesterday I have narrowed down my selection to my Top 5. Not bad for a Libran Librarian who is terrible at making choices.

Happy shopping (for those of you who still have to attack the malls) and happy relaxing (to those who are smart and organised enough to have finished). Whichever category you fall into have a great weekend.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Best Books of 2010

There are plenty of magazines, newspapers and websites at the moment telling us all what they think are the best books of 2010. If you are a Christmas grinch (or even slightly cynical) you might think that this is a conspiracy plan by the booksellers to give you ideas on what should be in yours (or others) Christmas stockings. Or you could be like me, and welcome the lists with open arms so that I can request my first pile of reading from the Library for the New Year. Here are a few for you to have a look at.


The Sunday Star Times list can be accessed through the Stuff.co.nz website.

The New Zealand Listener Top 100 and the New Zealand Herald Best Books lists can both be accessed through the New Zealand Booksellers website.

Our cousins at Christchurch City Library blog have their own "Simply the Best" list (plus a link through to the New York Times list)

And finally one of our favourites. The Kiwi Guru of books and book news Mr Graham Beattie has plenty of links and lists this month on Beatties Book Blog

Now if someone could just find one of those lists that I have left lying around with vibrant highlighting on it, my Santa stocking could be full on Christmas morning.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Captain Jack

Those of you who are regular readers of the blog (humour me - I am sure there are a couple of you out there) will know that I am a bit of a Doctor Who/Torchwood fan. This has almost nothing to do with the fact that Captain Jack is quite easy on the eye and is mostly to do with the intelligent writing, excellent production skills and exciting storylines (cough).

Captain Jack's alter ego is about as large in real life as he appears on screen. His name is John Barrowman and I recently read his autobiography Anything Goes and it's sequel memoir I am what I am. 'Anything Goes' traces the life and career of John Barrowman, from his Glaswegian childhood and American adolescence to his first big break starring alongside Elaine Paige in Anything Goes. As the flyleaf says "Leading man. Cult hero. Debonair Judge. Show stopping singer... What's the real story behind that dazzling smile?"

It is certainly told with lots of humour, and quite a few footnotes. As well as covering the usual family, friends and his journey to stage and screen, it has anecdotes and funny stories aplenty (would it surprise you to know that he is a practical joker extraordinaire?). It is also honest and sometimes very poignant as he reveals struggles against prejudice and the disapproval of others to some of the choices he has made. But (as we would expect from Captain Jack) he remains true to his values.

For fans of his acting, his music or just for a jolly good giggle, these two books take you not just behind the scenes, but right on centre stage.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Christmas Storytimes

I boobed. I'm sorry Kumeu - I left you off the Christmas storytime list last week. So here is your very own event blog entry.

Kumeu Library - Monday 20th December at 10.30am. Storytelling, rhymes and Christmas Carols. Everyone is encouraged to dress up in festive themed costumes.

And here (once again) is a brief rundown of where else you might run into one of Santa's helpers.

Helensville Library 3pm, Thursday 23 December
Mahurangi East Library 10.30am, Tuesday 14 December.
Orewa Library 5.30pm, Friday 17 December
Takapuna Library 9.30am, Tuesday 14 and Thursday 16 December Santa Rhyme Time sessions.
Te Atatu Peninsula Library 7pm , Thursday 16 December
Titirangi Library 7pm, Thursday 23 December
Waitakere Central Library 7pm,
Warkworth Library 6pm, Friday 17 December and 10.30am, Monday 20 December Whangaparaoa Library 6.30pm, Thursday 16 December.

See the blog last Wednesday for full details.

Monday, 13 December 2010

The perfect stocking filler


If you are looking for something cheap and useful to give to the book lover in your life, what about one of the new Auckland Library Bags.

They are handy and light and green. They remind you of all the 55 libraries that make up Auckland Libraries.
And they are just $2 at your local library. Get one now before they run out.
By the way, this is the Book Bag display at Whangaparaoa Library. Quite innovative and appropriate for the season. Well done on the Coast.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Super Six for Saturday

I have been very bad today. Or maybe that should just be very busy. It is well after 5pm and I didn't get time to flash my fingers on the keyboard and write a Top 5 for Friday. So to make up for it I bring you (in advance) - the Super Six for Saturday. Six librarians from around the district bring you some of their favourite books for 2010.
  1. Jeanette (Orewa) really enjoyed 61 Hours by Lee Child. She called it an exciting thriller that she had to keep reading, even when she was tired. For a light read Jeanette recommended The Ballroom Class by Lucy Dillon about a group of characters who attend a ballroom dancing class with a look at their lives and relationships. She also enjoyed listening to the children's audio series 39 Clues (Rick Riordan) in the car with her grandson.
  2. Judy (Orewa) called Still Alice by Lisa Genova "brilliant" (and I would have to agree with that). "A fantastic book about a 50 year old who gets Alzheimers - written by someone who works in that field and knows her stuff".
  3. Tina (Kumeu) found a surprising twist at the end of Dead Simple by Peter James. It is the story of a harmless stag night prank. The groom gets buried underground in a coffin. But a few hours later his best friends are dead and with just three days to go before the wedding, Michael can't be found. (This is another one I have read and it a great story)
  4. Lisa (Warkworth) can't stop talking about The Passage (Justin Cronin) which she recommends as good for the older teenagers as well as adult readers. She won't tell us too much about it as she doesn't want to give the plot away but would say it is in two parts with the first being about a deadly virus creating an apocalypse in the world and the second part taking place in the future. For a lighter read Freeing Grace (Charity Norman) is about a young couple unable to have children who look to adopt. It is called "witty warm and poignant".
  5. Teresa (Orewa) gives us three recommendations. The color of water (James McBride) is for "adults who wish to be inspired, ordinary people becoming extraordinary, yet they don't see themselves that way". For the teens (girls as well as boys) the Cherub and Henderson's Boys series by Robert Muchamore are still hard to beat. And for the children, her grand daughter will be getting a copy of The Wonky Donkey (Craig Smith) after she took the library copy to school and her whole class joined in.
  6. Julie (Warkworth) reads horror including the zombies (whereas I draw the line at vampires). Handling the Undead by John Ajvide Lindqvist (translated from the Swedish by Ebba Segerberg) she rates as excellent, bring into the story ethical questions of what rights the dead have. The publisher's description calls it "a horror story with a heart and a mind". For a rollicking good adventure story that both men and women will enjoy she recommends Atlantis by David JL Gibbins.

So hopefully this eclectic mix of suggestions for summer reading from some of the other librarian voices around Rodney will more than make up for my tardiness. I promise to try better next week. Have a safe weekend everyone. Ka kite.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Can't find it?

3.5 million items and odds are we will have what you are looking for. However sometimes we don't. And if that happens to you there are a couple of things you can do.

Suggestion for Purchase
We welcome suggestions from members for resources to be added to collections. These suggestions are valuable in assisting us to ensure our collections are as up-to-date (and complete) as possible. Click on this Suggestion for Purchase link to take you through to the page where you can tell us what we're missing.

Interloan Service
If the item you are looking for is not available at Auckland Libraries, we can inquire if one of the other libraries in New Zealand might have it, and you can request it from them. There is a charge for this (normal interloans cost $5). To find out how to use this service go to our Interloans page.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Christmas Storytimes

Here's a quick run down of where you might be able to find the jolly fellow in red, but will definitely be able to find fun, stories and songs with a Christmas flavour around the libraries in Rodney (and some of our near neighbours, just in case you can't get to see us)

Helensville Library 3pm, Thursday 23 December Christmas storytime sessions involve storytelling, rhymes and Christmas carols. Children are encouraged to dress up in festive themed costumes.
Mahurangi East Library 10.30am, Tuesday 14 December. Christmas storytime sessions involve storytelling, rhymes and Christmas carols. Children are encouraged to dress up in festive themed costumes.
Orewa Library 5.30pm, Friday 17 December
Takapuna Library 9.30am, Tuesday 14 and Thursday 16 December Santa Rhyme Time sessions.
Te Atatu Peninsula Library 7pm , Thursday 16 December A magical night of stories, songs and Christmas fun for everyone to enjoy!
Titirangi Library 7pm, Thursday 23 December A magical nights of stories, songs and Christmas fun for everyone to enjoy!
Waitakere Central Library 7pm, Wednesday 15 DecemberA magical night of stories, songs and Christmas fun for everyone to enjoy!
Warkworth Library 6pm, Friday 17 December and 10.30am, Monday 20 December Christmas storytime sessions involve storytelling, rhymes and Christmas carols. Children are encouraged to dress up in festive themed costumes.
Whangaparaoa Library 6.30pm, Thursday 16 December. Join us at Whangaparaoa Library for Christmas stories, songs and fun! Wear your jarmies and something Christmassy - Bring a cushion and a mug.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Special Collections

Now that we are all Auckland Libraries, around Rodney we have access to some wonderful special library collections:

The Angela Morton collection is a reference collection of books and other materials covering the visual arts of New Zealand from pre-European times to the present day. It is a memorial collection dedicated to the late Angela Morton, who was a North Shore resident devoted to New Zealand art, and the nucleus of the collection was funded from an original family bequest in 1985. Access is provided in conjunction with the opening hours at the Takapuna Library.

The Denny Hulme Motorsport collection was established to commemorate New Zealand's only Formula One racing champion (1967), the late Denny Hulme OBE, who died in October 1992. Designed for both motorsport enthusiasts and casual browsers, the collection celebrates New Zealand's golden era of motor racing and beyond, with an exciting array of past and present memorabilia. Contact Anne Jaynes, the Denny Hulme collections manager at Takapuna Library for more information.

The Chelsea Archives are a collection of records from the Chelsea Sugar refinery (now New Zealand Sugar Company Ltd) dating back to the late 19th century. The Chelsea Sugar Company in its prime was one of the largest companies in the southern hemisphere.

Children’s Literature Collection - Of use to educators who have a special interest in children’s literature. Housed in Takapuna Library, this is a combination of reference and lending material.

Medal Collection - Books by award-winning authors and illustrators of all the major children’s book awards from New Zealand, Australia, Britain, the United States and Canada. Housed in Takapuna Library this is a reference collection for use in the library.

Family history collection If you are interested in genealogy, The Auckland Research Centre has an extensive collection of resources for family history research. This is located on the second floor of the Central City Library.

International documents collection - Auckland City Libraries' international documents collection is made up of material from the United Nations (UN), encompassing the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), World Trade Organisation (WTO), and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation & Development (OECD).

Sir George Grey Special Collections Ta Hori Kerei - Nga kohinga taonga whakahirahira (previously known as 'Heritage collections: Te Taumata o ngā Taonga Tuku Iho') were made accessible to the public in 1997, and are currently housed on the second floor of Central City Library. Since the founding gift to the citizens of Auckland by Sir George Grey in 1887, the collections have grown by purchase and generous donations by benefactors to become one of New Zealand's three major heritage collections.

The Ngā Mātauranga Māori collection includes historical and contemporary material based on Māori content or subject matter. It consists of material written by Māori authors as well as children’s books and easy readers in te reo Māori.Ngā Mātauranga Māori items have a black and white kowhaiwhai label and the word Māori on the spine of the book. This collection includes both lending and reference material. Many of our community libraries have a Ngā Mātauranga Māori section. At Central City Library, you will find the collection on the first floor.

The Manukau Research Library holds the most extensive collection available of materials relating to the history and development of South Auckland and the Counties-Manukau area.

These are just some of the resources you can find around Auckland. It pays to have a good hunt around the website as you never know what you might find that you didn't know you were looking for.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Scrooge and Zombies anyone?

It’s the Christmas season (yes I am admitting it and now that it’s December I am going to get into the swing of tinsel, decorations and, dare I say it, gift buying).

As well as Christmas, this year has also been the season of vampires and more lately, zombies. So in the interests of keeping up to date I picked up I am Scrooge: A Zombie story for Christmas by Adam Roberts.

Now if you have read my reviews in the past, been tempted by the book and ultimately decided it was rubbish and I didn’t know what I was talking about – this is the book for you.

The first time I opened it I think I got to page 5. The second time I persevered until page 48. Then I had had enough. Enough of the blood, guts and brains. Enough of the bad writing. Enough of the story. However, in the interests of good reviewing, here is the synopsis from the publisher:
"Marley was dead. Again. The legendary Ebenezeer Scrooge sits in his house counting money. The boards that he has nailed up over the doors and the windows shudder and shake under the blows from the endless zombie hordes that crowd the streets hungering for his flesh and his miserly braaaaiiiiiinns! Just how did the happiest day of the year slip into a welter of blood, innards and shambling, ravenous undead on the snowy streets of old London town? Will the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future be able to stop the world from drowning under a top-hatted and crinolined zombie horde? Was Tiny Tim's illness something infinitely more sinister than mere rickets and consumption? Can Scrooge be persuaded to go back to his evil ways, travel back to Christmas past and destroy the brain stem of the tiny, irritatingly cheery Patient Zero?"

Like any good book though, this one did teach me something about myself. There is a reason why I don’t DO horror movies, and that now extends to horror reading. I can cope with vampires but zombies are a step too far.

But, if blood, guts, brains and Christmas go together in your mind, this could be the book you want in your Christmas stocking this year.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Top 5 for Friday - Children's stocking fillers

Now that it's December I can formally mention the C word - Christmas is coming. The decorations are going up around the libraries and planning is well under way for a visit from the big fellow at Special Christmas storytimes around the area (more on that next week).

It's also the time when people come into the library looking for inspiration and advice for under the Tree. This week I thought I would start off with something for the younger crowd. So here's some of my favourite picture books that the kids might like to look at, read or have read to them (and the best ones are the ones that we enjoy reading to them).
  1. Having toured around parts of Northland earlier this year with the irrepressive Donovan Bixley, I was looking forward to his new book The Wheels on the Bus. Yes, it's a familiar tale and it's been done before, but that is part of the joy of this Kiwi styled edition. The birds, mammals, reptiles and vistas of Aotearoa pop out of the pages and children will delight at identifying all of them, including the fantail who appears on every page. The bus travels from Cape Reinga through to Milford Sound stopping at iconic New Zealand spots to pick up a whole host of Kiwi characters. You can sing along as you turn the pages (as we did at Storytime on Monday) or if you want to sit quietly and read the book, you find lots of other things hiding in the pictures as well. This vibrant soft covered picture book will make an ideal stocking filler and is definitely top of my list of picture book purchases for the special kids in my life.

  2. Julia Donaldson (The Gruffalo) has a new book out called Cave Baby. The illustrator is Emily Gravett. It’s a fun story about a cheeky baby who scribbles on walls (can anyone relate to that) and a hairy mammoth who takes him for a thrilling nighttime ride. It’s a great read aloud book (I’v tried it out at storytime).

  3. Something completely different, and a little bit of a tear jerker for the soft touches amongst us is Potato Music by Christina Booth and illustrated by Pete Groves. Each night the family gather around the piano and sing and dance. Pa says the music “helps to keep our dreams and hopes alive”. But then the war comes, boots march by outside and everyone is hungry. Can the music keep them warm and stop them from starving? It’s sad but uplifting – ideal for quiet time with your child.

  4. The highlight for me of To Market To Market by Anne Miranda is the stunning and hilarious illustrations by Janet Stevens. They fit the simple text so well with the animals and the shopper springing off the sepia background chaos. The book itself has been around for a while (1997) and has been honoured as both a whole and for it’s illustrations. If you find it, have a look and see if you agree with me.

  5. The Mountain who wanted to Live in a House is Maurice Shadbolt's only known children's story. Published in picture book format for the first time with illustrations by Renee Haggo it is the story of young Thomas who saves the town from a wandering mountain, at the same time helping the mountain to achieve his dream.

Honourable mention must go to the Kiwi classics such as Hairy Maclary and the stories of people such as Margaret Mahy and Joy Cowley (some of which were re-issued this year), Yvonne Morrison's kiwi re-workings of the traditional christmas tales (e.g. The Night before Christmas), new releases such as Marmaduke Duck and the Marmalade Jam (Juliette McIvor) and the Kiwi Corkers (which also have a Kiwi retelling of the Christmas Carol just released). Do you get the impression I could go on and on? I could (I haven't even mentioned Wonky Donkeys or Piggity Wiggity yet). It's the child inside and it is never more evident than at Christmas time.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Barbara Kendall at Orewa Library

She has the full set - Gold, Silver and Bronze medals from the Olympic Games. She is a Quadruple World Champion and can put the honorific MBE after her name for her services to windsurfing.

She is of course Barbara Kendall and she will be at the Orewa Library tomorrow (Friday 3rd December) from 11am to 11.45am. This is a free event but numbers are limited so get in touch with the Orewa Library today to reserve your space. Phone 094273923 or email them at orewalib@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz

Barbara's biography Wind Driven can be found at most of the Auckland Libraries. Check out your copy today.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Summer Hours and loan periods

With the way the temperature has been the past few days it's time to start talking about summer. It's also one way to put off for another day bringing up the 'C' word in great detail (it is mentioned briefly in the following advice).

HOURS
The Libraries in the Rodney area close at 5pm on Friday 24 December.
We will be closed Saturday 25 - Tuesday 28 December and Saturday 1 - Tuesday 4 January over the Christmas and New Year period.
From Wednesday 29 - Friday 31 December the libraries will operate with normal hours but will close at 5pm.
Wellsford, Mahurangi East, Orewa, Helensville and Whangaparaoa libraries will open from 9.30am - 5pm. Warkworth and Kumeu libraries will be open from 9am - 5pm.

Normal opening hours resume on Tuesday 5 January.

LOAN PERIODS
Once again we recognise that as the busy Christmas and holiday period approaches, you have a lot of things to think about as well as getting your library items back on time. So our extended loan periods are back and those checking books out this week will have already noticed that they are not due back to 2011 (which makes the year seem to go even faster)

Our extended loan periods are as follows:
1) Until 31 December 201028-day loans (e.g. books, audio books) will be issued/renewed for 42 days.
2) 11 December 2010 - 8 January 201114-day loans (e.g. magazines, CDs, bestsellers) will be issued/renewed for 28 days.
3) 18 December 2010 - 22 January 20117-day loans (e.g. DVDs, standards) will be issued/renewed for 14 days.

Relax and enjoy the festive season (avoiding the use of the C word) with our extended loans on books and items including magazines and rental DVDs. If you enjoy borrowing a few extra books, now's the time to do it!

Monday, 29 November 2010

Do Boys and Books Mix?

Not according to a study of year 7 boys just done by New Zealand teacher Sheryl White.

"Boys think reading books is for girls, but that reading for information, such as a TV guide, is a useful, masculine activity, a new study shows. The study of Year 7 boys sheds some light on why it's so hard to get boys to read" reads the opening of the report in the Sunday Star Times yesterday.

I would love to read the whole report sometime as it is something that librarians, parents and teachers all struggle with. However a reluctance to read is not restricted to the boys and my personal opinion is that there is a danger (albiet small) that a knee jerk reaction in concentrating on the boys will lead to a future where girls will struggle to find good quality reading material.

My faith in the boys was restored yesterday when a young man (9 or 10) came up to me at a social gathering and asked me if I had any other books like Holes (Louis Sachar) which he has just finished. He said it was the best book he had ever read and he was keen to find more. With our Summer Reading programmes starting up today, it will be a great opportunity to see how the boys and girls of Rodney match up.

Read the full article from the Sunday Star Times here.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Pass on your messages of support

People from right around the Auckland area will be able pay their respects to the victims of Pike River and the people of the West Coast in condolence books at the Auckland Town Hall and all libraries across Auckland. Books are now available at Wellsford, Warkworth, Mahurangi East, Orewa, Whangaparaoa, Helensville and Kumeu Libraries for the public to sign.

Mayor Len Brown is working with church leaders to organise a memorial service to be held in Auckland and we will let you know the details once they have been confirmed.

Top 5 for Friday - Thanksgiving Day

It may already be Friday in New Zealand, but in most of North America it is still Thursday, which means that a lot of people are lying back, completely stuffed to the brim with lots of good food and family festivity, because the fourth Tuesday of November is Thanksgiving Day.

I feel a bit of a fraud as I don't have a drop of pilgrim or American blood in me and have never celebrated (or even thought much about) Thanksgiving Day. I must also admit in the following list that I have not read any of these books. But I really wanted to finish the week off on a positive note so here is my Top 5 List for Thanksgiving Day.
  1. If Thanksgiving is about family and feasting (which to a large extent it is), then first up we have to have a recipe book. Thanksgiving 101 : celebrate America's favorite holiday with America's Thanksgiving expert (Rick Rodgers) looks like it has it all. And in the lead up to Christmas, who doesn't need a few new recipes. One of the reviews says "Rodgers tells you Everything You've Always Wanted to Know About Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner but Were Too Harassed to Ask". Sounds like my kind of book.
  2. Thanksgiving : the biography of an American holiday (James W. Baker). We know Thanksgiving primarily as an American tradition (although this is not srictly true as Thanksgiving and/or harvest festivals are celebrated in many other places around the world. However if you want to know the American history, this is one of the books from the library that can help you.
  3. A Thanksgiving book written by a Kiwi - who would have thought it? I was surprised to come across this one. Gracias, the Thanksgiving Turkey by none other than Joy Cowley. Trouble ensues when Papa gets Miguel a turkey to fatten up for Thanksgiving and Miguel develops an attachment to it.
  4. A catered Thanksgiving : a mystery with recipes (Isis Crawford) is the seventh title in a series. I (and a lot of our customers) enjoy books that integrate two different elements (i.e. the story and the recipe or the story and the quilts). The Publisher's description makes it sound quite light hearted and good fun so I may have to add it to my TBR list. The proprietors of A Little Taste of Heaven, their Longely, N.Y., catering company, prepare a Thanksgiving feast for Scrooge-like fireworks manufacturer Monty Field and his family at the Field mansion. When Monty comes into the kitchen to test the roasting turkey, Bernie and Libby watch in horror as Monty taps the pop-up button in the bird's breast and the turkey explodes, blowing off the top of his head. Libby fears their stuffing made the turkey explode, but they soon learn that there was plenty of rivalry among the assembled family members, any one of whom had reason to want Monty dead. A heavy snowstorm ensures the suspects stay put as the sisters start to investigate. That their father, Sean, was on bad terms with the victim complicates their task. The action builds to more fireworks and a dramatic rescue.
  5. Thanksgiving on Thursday (Mary Pope Osborne) is one of the Magic Tree House series for children. I love the concept and so do a lot of the kids. Jack and Annie travel in their magic treehouse to the year 1621, where they celebrate the first Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians in the New Plymouth Colony.

Have a good and safe weekend everyone.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

RIP

It is hard to find the words and sometimes words are not enough.

To the miners underground - Rest in Peace
To the families left behind - Our deepest sympathies
To the rescue teams and mine staff who were frustrated in their efforts to rescue their brothers and mates - You did everything you could
To Peter Whittall - Your dignity and strength are an inspiration
To the community - Your togetherness and support in the face of this disaster are what makes us Kiwi

My final wish - that they do manage to bring the boys home.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

What does it mean to be Brave?

The Brave by Nicholas Evans is the author’s first book in five years, and while it is a departure from the wilderness and nature that feature in some of his other titles (e.g. The Horse Whisperer, The Smoke Jumper), it retains strong characterisation. Several people complete journeys of discovery and there are very mixed destinations.

Nicholas Evans skilfully intertwines the stories of 1950’s England and Hollywood, with present day America. The constant running through both is Tom Bedford. In earlier times he was Tommy, bullied at boarding school, and taking refuge in a fantasy world of TV Westerns. Today he is Tom, slightly bitter, living alone and estranged from his son who is fighting in Iraq.
Despite the fact that (for me at least) parts of the book were telegraphed, it still kept me entertained and interested to the end. Characters were developed, innocence destroyed and with everyone confronting their demons, true bravery was discovered.

It wasn’t the book I was expecting from Nicholas Evans. It reminded me slightly of the Sidney Sheldon novels of Hollywood that I used to devour. But it had an innocence and naivety to the storytelling which came from much of the story being told from the viewpoint of the younger Tommy and this lifted it above some of the other books and sagas which use the darker side of Hollywood as their base. It is well worth a read.

As well as being available in print, The Brave will also shortly be available in audio book in the Library. Or request some of the author's other titles by clicking on this author link.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Free Email Reminders

If you are anything like me (especially in the lead up to Christmas), returning your library books on time is something that is either way down the priority list or so far off the radar that you have completely forgotton about it. That is until next time you come into the library and discover that the books were late, and that you have to reach into your pocket.

BUT it doesn't have to be that way. If you have your current email address on our records, we will email you a couple of days before you books (or other items) are due and remind you of their due date. This gives you time to go online (or phone us) to renew them or to drop them back.

It's quick, it's easy and it's free. So next time you are in the library update your record with your email address (or check with us that we have your current details).

Monday, 22 November 2010

Bring them home

First it was history. Then it became a book, more than one movie and finally an award winning musical. It started as Les Miserables and an is known world-wide as Les Mis. You can read it, watch it, listen to it (and all through the Library)

But as I was sitting in the Matakana Cinemas yesterday watching the screening of the 25th Anniversary production of Les Miserables, one song resonated. And it was not just me, but many others in the audience who commented that they too said a prayer.

So today I would like to borrow the words of Alain Boubil, Claude-Michel Schonberg and Cameron Mackintosh, as sung by Jean Valjean. With thoughts and hopes for the miners, rescuers, families and community at Pike River.

God on high
Hear my prayer -
In my need
You have always been there.
He is young,
He's afraid -
Let him rest
Heaven blessed.
Bring him home,
Bring him home,
Bring him home.

Bring them home!

Friday, 19 November 2010

Top 5 for Friday - Kids and Medicine

It's Red Nose today for Cure Kids and Warkworth Library has gone red to celebrate the occasion. That's also the inspiration for today's blog. It's a fairly eclectic (and sometimes rather vague) selection of titles, some of which have I'v read, and some which just appealed when I sat down to type today.
  1. In a Heartbeat (Loretta Ellsworth). When a small mistake costs sixteen-year-old Eagan her life during a figure-skating competition, she leaves many things unreconciled, including her troubled relationship with her mother. From her vantage point in the afterlife, Eagan reflects back on her memories, and what she could have done differently, through her still-beating heart. When fourteen-year-old Amelia learns she will be getting a heart transplant, her fear and guilt battle with her joy at this new chance at life. And afterwards when she starts to feel different, dreaming about figure skating, craving grape candy. Her need to learn about her donor leads her to discover and explore Eagan's life, meeting her grieving loved ones and trying to bring the closure they all need to move on. Told in alternating viewpoints, In a Heartbeat tells the emotional and compelling story of two girls sharing one heart. I'v just started to read this book which is a recommended teen read for summer. Watch this space for a review before Christmas.
  2. Sadako and the thousand paper cranes (Eleanor Coerr) After several dizzy spells send Hiroshima-born Sadako to the doctor, the budding school track star finds out she has leukemia--known as the "atom bomb disease." But she faces life with spirit and bravery. And a legend says that if she folds 1,000 paper cranes, the gods will grant her wish to be healthy again. I read this book as a child and adored it. It is gentle and sad and uplifting all at the same time. The libraries have several different versions from children's fiction, illustrated and audio to choose from.
  3. The ghost map : a street, an epidemic and the two men who battled to save Victorian London (Steven Johnson). At 6am on 28 August 1854, the city of London struggled to sleep at the end of an oppressively hot summer. But at 40 Broad Street, Soho, Sarah Lewis was awake tending to her feverish baby girl. As she threw a used bucket of water into the cesspool at the front of her lodgings, it marked the start of a cholera epidemic that would consume 50,000 lives in England and Wales - and become a battle between man and microbe unlike any other. Steven Johnson takes us day by day through what happened and re-creates a London full of dust heaps, furnaces and slaughterhouses; where a ghost class of bone-pickers, rag gatherers, dredger men and mud-larks scavenged off waste; where families were crammed into tiny rooms and cartloads of bodies wheeled down the streets. And at the heart of the story is Doctor John Snow: vegetarian, teetotaller, anaesthesiologist and Soho resident, whose use of maps to prove that cholera was spread by water - and not borne on the air as most believed - would bring him into conflict with the entire medical establishment, but ultimately defeat his era's greatest killer. Steven Johnson interweaves this extraordinary story with a wealth of ideas about how cities work, ecosystems thrive and cultures connect. He argues that, with half the planet's population set to be urban, today's megacities could soon be wrestling with the same problems as John Snow and that, just as in 1854, science could be our salvation. This is just one of several books we have about or based on the cholera epidemic in the mid 19th Century. It reminds us of how doctors have had to be detectives over the years. And just how much we have to thank some of those early medical detectives. It is also a tale of a disease which can still prevail today, as the citizens of Haiti can no doubt attest.
  4. Measly Medicine (Nick Arnold). A romp through the history of healthcare, hosted by the inimitable Dr Grimgrave.Includes chapters ancient medicine - Stone Age trepanning, Chinese medicine, Romans, Greeks· the dodgy diagnostics of the Middle Ages· the bloody operations before anaesthetics and hygiene were implemented· Florence Nightingale's nursing revolution and development of public health· Life-saving surgery available today, including plastic surgery and transplants.· Modern miracles - new drugs and treatment. The Horrible Science crew make us thankful that we were not born in earlier times. Children will love it.
  5. Urgency Emergency Picture Book Series (Dosh Archer) From a choking wolf and a girl dressed in red looking for her lost granny, to an injured spider lying under a water spout, Doctor Glenda and Nurse Percy at City Hospital have a lot to deal with in this lovely series of early read picture books. I haven't seen them yet, but I love books that put a new twist on old tales, so will be looking out for these.

Of course, honourable mentions need to go to my favourite Jodi Picoult novel My Sister's Keeper, my favourite TV show Grey's Anatomy and stories about Helen Keller and her teacher Annie Sullivan (another favourite from when I was growing up).

Take care everyone. Have a fantastic weekend.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

A "pot pourri" of a book

I was looking for just the right words to describe Joy Cowley's memoir Navigation and yesterday I was struggling. Today over lunch I read an interview with her in the latest Next magazine and she nailed it for me. It's a pot pourri.

It is funny and thought-provoking, interesting and insightful. And through it all the warm smile and friendly essence of one of our most prolific and loved authors and advocates of Good reading for Kiwi kids shines through. I would have expected no less from Joy Cowley.

If Margaret Mahy is the “Word Witch” of New Zealand children’s literature, then Joy Cowley must surely be the Magician. Observations and memories from her past and her present mingle with commentary on a wide range of subjects. Magical word pictures of her special place in the Marlborough Sounds dance through the pages. Laugh out loud interactions with children around the world prove that are a deceptively perceptive as well as sometimes brutally honest and logical. Joy’s commonsense blends with her love of life in telling her story from childhood, to a teenager coveting a motorcycle, motherhood to author and sought after speaker.

This book was long overdue and a pleasure to read.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Summer Reading Programmes


Once again, the seven libraries (previously known as Rodney) are running our very successful Summer Reading Programmes. This summer the theme is to Go Bush and we are carrying that theme through with the Big Bush Read for 5 to 8 year olds and Library Monopoly for the 9 to 13 year olds.


The Big Bush Read : Te Panui Ngahere Nui
This is an incentive based reading programme which aims to encourage and promote books, libraries, and the fun of reading to children over the summer holidays. Participants do not need to be reading by themselves to participate in the programme. In fact reading aloud to and with your child is of real benefit in keeping up the momentum over the holiday break and in preparing them for independent reading.

Children enrolled in the programme receive a colourful folder to record the books that they read. When the children come into the library to ‘report-in’ (share with a staff member the books they have been reading) they receive a sticker and earn Library dollars to buy their ticket to the Grand Finale party. Children who complete the programme by ‘reporting-in’ four times can buy their ticket to the Finale which includes guest storytellers, and presentation of their prizes.

Library Monopoly - Branch out in your Reading
This programme for the older children was so well received last year, that we had to bring it back. Following a similar format of incentives, the children receive a special Monopoly Board when they enrol. At each visit they roll the dice three times to move around the board and must read the type of book that they land on (for instance an author they have never read before, adventure, animal stories, non-fiction). Each book is given a star rating and to earn their Library dollars, at each report in they must hand in a short review. Four dollars will buy their ticket to the Grand Finale party where they will receive their certificates and prize.

AND with the support of the community and the Library, these programmes are offered free of charge. Enrolments for both programmes open on the 29th of November and all report in's must be completed by 24th January so that you can buy your tickets for the Finales later that week. So that's eight weeks of the summer in which to come to the library four times for your report-ins (we do stagger these so they are not all completed in one week). If you are on holiday it may be possible to report-in by phone, fax, or email.

For more information or to find out about the enrolments, talk to your local library (Mahurangi East, Wellsford, Warkworth, Kumeu, Helensville, Orewa or Whangaparaoa). Or if you are somewhere else in Auckland, check with your library about what they are doing as we almost all run something to keep you reading on holiday.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Where are all these libraries?

There are 55 libraries around Auckland where you can use your Library card. That's enough libraries for you to visit a different one every week of the year, and still have some left over.

If you would like to do this exercise and want to make sure the library will be open when you get there, here is the link through the Library Map where you can track all of the libraries, their addresses and opening hours. Borrow and return items to any library from Wellsford to Waiheke to Waiuku.

AND if those 55 libraries don't keep you busy, you can catch up with one of the four mobile libraries that are also part of our network.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Keeping up with What's on at the Library

If you are anything like me, there are days when organisation goes out the window and trying to keep up with dates of birthdays and events doesn't even get a look in. So rather than making you do all the hard work of trying to find out what's on at your local libraries, we have a great new way of keeping you in touch. It's our regular monthly "What's On" E-newsletter.

It's a free monthly news and events update delivered straight to your inbox. Highlights include author talks, children's and teens' activities, heritage exhibitions, workshops and seminars, concerts, book clubs, computer classes and more. And it's events right around Auckland so if there is something you want to do or someone you want to listen to in another part of our City, this is the newsletter for you.

Sign up here to receive our What's On E-Newsletter (and you can sign up for one of our next Reads newsletters at the same time).

In the meantime, here is the link through to the November newsletter.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Top 5 for Friday - Death and Bereavement

I'm off to a funeral this afternoon for one of my old primary school teachers who I have kept in touch with. He admitted a couple of years ago that he had hoped I would become a teacher, but conceded that librarian was the next best thing. So I am off to celebrate his life and it has got me looking for just the right words, something that we often help people do in the library on just such occasions.
  1. Beyond Absence - collected by Edward Searl. This "treasury of poems, quotations and readings on death and remembrance" is just one of the books that is held by the library with words for the service, a personal note or for comfort.
  2. Sometimes it's not a poem about death, remembrance or grief that you are looking for but that favourite poem of your loved one. One of the most satisfying experiences I have ever had as a librarian is managing to help a gentleman find his mother's favourite poem for her service (and he had a last little giggle as she had got the poet wrong). Often we find the words in books like Best-Loved Poems (Neil Philip - Editor) but we have volumes of poetry as well as all our on line resources which we can utilise in our detective work to find what you are looking for.
  3. Earth, Sea, Sky by Patricia and Waiariki Grace with photos by Craig Potton is just one volume of Images and Maori Proverbs which have been published by Huia. The Maori proverb is accompanied by the English translation as well as a short explanation. It is simple but inspiring.
  4. It's not something we really like to talk about but there are things we can do to prepare for death. That starts with making a Will and can also include creating a Family Trust, a subject that we often get inquiries about here at the Library. A lot of lawyers recommend Martin Hawes book Family Trusts so we try to have several copies of this on the shelves, but it is not the only book on the subject so have a look around or do a Subject Search Trusts - New Zealand.
  5. Everyone deals with loss differently and we have a selection of books in the library to help you work your way through the process. 101 ways you can help (Liz Aleshire) and After life, after you : true stories of love, grief and hope (S.K. Reid) are two quite new books that give different perspectives on bereavement.

An honourable mention today comes from a title that I came across writing today's blog. The Book of Death: Kicking the Bucket in Style (Sarah McKenzie, Liz Poole and Amanda McKenzie) has such an in-your-face title that I am pretty sure it would be worth a read.

In the meantime, here is a proverb from Earth, Sea, Sky (mentioned above)

Rarangi maunga, tu tonu, tu tonu. Rarangi tangata, ngaro noa, ngaro noa.

You have gone. But your mountain is everlasting.

RIP Val.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Make Music

Are you a singer or musician? Then our transition into Auckland Libraries brings you not just more music to listen to, but the resources to make your own.

You can now access the growing collection of Sheet Music that is held at the Auckland Central Library. The collection covers a broad range of styles. In addition to classical, jazz and rock, the collection also contains:
- song anthologies
- vocal scores and librettos for opera and musicals
- miniature scores and full scores
- instrumental tutors
- a strong New Zealand music collection, both print and manuscript
- choral and orchestral sets

There is a wealth of other types of sheet music in the basement of the Central City Library, all available for loan. Most is available at no charge, although there is a fee for the Orchestral sets.

Check out some of the links on this Printed Music Catalogue Search to find out more.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Row Row Row your boat..

... faster than the rest
Kiwis at Karapiro
Simply were the best

Okay - so poetry isn't my forte! But weren't the Kiwis fantastic at the World Rowing Champs at Lake Karapiro over the last week and a half. Congratulations to everyone involved, from the competitors to the organisers.

If the sight of the skiffs (or boats or whatever the technical term is) skimming through the waves has inspired you, check out what's available from more than 4,000 resources at your local library. There's everything here from the How to manuals for beginners to the How to Go Faster tips for those already involved in the sport. Crew: The Power's Handbook (2007) sounds like it might have everything you need from the history (slaves and galley ships), equipment, training and racing.

Or check out the stories of famous rowers (or scullers) and some of the incredible trips that they have undertaken. The story of Rob Hamill and Phil Stubbs in The Naked Rower is an interesting and inspiring read, while the title Five months in a leaky boat : rowing through Mongolia and Siberia to the Arctic Ocean, is intriguing to say the least.
And to find out more about rowing in New Zealand go to the Rowing New Zealand website.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

What makes a good picture book?

The Best Picture Books are the ones that make the children giggle and which make the parents (usually the reader) laugh. Which is exactly what happened yesterday morning at Storytime in Warkworth with the last book of the session (when the audience is starting to get a little distracted and at it's toughest).

The Pig's Knickers (Jonathan Emmett - Writer. Vanessa Cabban - Illustrator) is the story of a pig who thinks he is quite dull and boring. What does it take to transform a gloomy pig into a break-dancing, tango-tastic super pig? A pair of polka-dot knickers! Pig's new polka-dot knickers make him feel so special that he can't stop showing off in them. 'What do you think of me in my new knickers?' he asks, as he parades proudly past his friends. But is it really Pig's knickers that are so extraordinary, or is it something else?
A cheeky picture book that's fun to read, right through to the last page.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Information 24/7 - Library Resources from Home or Work

If you were a member of any of the previous library networks: Auckland, Manukau, North Shore, Waitakere, Rodney, Franklin and Papakura – you now have access to the Digital Library.

The Digital Library is ideal for those who cannot physically get to the library for books and information due to time constraints or other reasons. It is great for researchers, teachers, students, and parents helping their kids with homework. You can use your current library barcode and PIN to access the Digital Library, which holds 100+ specialist eResources encompassing some of the world’s most sought after information including:

1. Renowned encyclopaedias, e.g. World Book Online and Encyclopaedia Britannica Online
2. Top business statistics and information, e.g. Kompass, MarketLine
3. Top arts eResources: Oxford Art Online and William Blake’s America
4. Fun interactive children’s sites: TumbleBooks and TumbleReadables
5. World-class online exhibitions e.g. Shades of Grey, Shakespeare, and, Is It Real Gold?
6. Downloadable Media (eAudio books)
7. Auckland and specialist family history databases, e.g. passenger lists and cemetery records
8. Digitised heritage material e.g. Manuscripts Online

Visit the all-new Digital Library now: www.aucklandcitylibraries.com/digitallibrary. Over the next few weeks I will be having a look at some of these resources. While most of them do need a library card for access, some are open sites. Have a look around and if you have any questions, let me know.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Top 5 for Friday - Change

WOW - What a week! It has been crazy busy (forgive the bad grammar) across Auckland as customers from Wellsford to Clevedon (and every part in between) have taken to the bigger brighter Auckland Libraries organisation with enthusiasm. Books are winging their way around Auckland (huge ups to all our courier drivers who are moving enormous quantities of books and other resources). We have all been working really hard behind the scenes so that service at the desk remains as seamless as possible - all with a smile.

As this week as seen so much change, I thought that would be an excellent theme for the Top 5 today. So I went to our flash new Library website and typed "Change" into the search box. As a keyword search that gave me over 30,000 results. If you look closely at the right hand side of the new search page, you can see that this search can be narrowed down (refined) by format, year, subject, audience, region (among others). It takes a bit of getting used to but is a wonderful option for those that want something more than our classic catalogue (which is also available). I will be talking more about how this all works next week. In the meantime, here is my Top 5 for Friday.
  1. The Winners Bible: Rewire your brain for permanent change by Kerry Spackman. The Winner's Bible gives you mental and emotional tools that can change your natural desires and rid you of habits that limit your happiness or potential. Dr. Spackman provides practical, proven techniques for acquiring the strengths necessary to grow into a better, happier, and more powerful person. He's used these techniques to genuinely revolutionize the lives of normal people, sports stars, business people and even drug addicts - sometimes in a single session.
  2. Destitute Gourmet - Sophie Gray. Change means different things to different people so the subtitle of this book "stunning food for small change" puts it firmly into my top 5 (plus I am a cook-book junkie).
  3. Change for the Better - Georgina Beyer and Cathy Casey. Former MP and Mayor of Carterton Georgina Beyer, was born in 1957 as George Bertrand. This powerful biography tells her story - of a change bigger than most of us can imagine.
  4. Leaving Microsoft to Change the World - John Wood. I haven't read this book but it is immediately going onto my request list. An entrepreneur's odyssey to educate the world's children sounds like just the sort of inspirational tale that will keep me interested and inspire me.
  5. And for a light-hearted and musical end to the list, I can't go past my first ever pop idol. David Bowie with the album Changes.

Have an awesome weekend everyone. Ka kite

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

What can I read Next?

Do you ever get stuck for something to read? I do - in fact I am at the moment. It's not that there aren't plenty of books on the shelf. It's more that I have seen books and thought - I must read that, only to find that I forget the titles when I do now (finally) have the time to read.

We can now offer you something to help - Next Read enewsletters.

NextReads eNewsletters are email newsletters that provide reading suggestions for all ages in more than 25 reading categories, from armchair travel and biographies, through to romance, thrillers and picture books. There's something for everyone: kids, tweens, teens and adults. Each book is carefully selected by our editors, who add a brief summary. If you see a title that catches your fancy, simply click on the link and place your request. It really is that simple.

It's simple to sign up for too. Just go to our Next Reads page on the Auckland Libraries website and click sign up. I have.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

No Ordinary Apes

It's been a long time since I read a book in one sitting. Which isn't really a reflection on the fact that my reading recently has mostly comprised of text books. I was overjoyed then, that the end of the semester coincided with the arrival on my desk of the new Sara Gruen novel Ape House.

For fans of her previous novel, Water for Elephants, I have to advise that while animals are still a primary focus of Ape House, perhaps even more so than the previous title, the book has quite a different feel. It is contemporary and fast paced, whereas Water for Elephants had a slower pace as befitted life in the 1920's. Perhaps this is a reflection on the hyper activity displayed by the six apes of the title who play are characters in their own right.

The publisher's summary of the plot reads "When a family of bonobo apes who know American Sign Language are kidnapped from a language laboratory, their mysterious appearance on a reality TV show propels scientist Isabel Duncan, together with reporter John Thigpen, on a personal mission to rescue them. An entertaining book that calls into question our assumptions about these animals who share 99.4% of our DNA." Any book that keeps me turning the pages is definitely entertaining. The story behind the book sounds just as interesting with the author having to undertake extensive study and research before getting to meet the real bonobos in Iowa.

I found some of the subplots a little distracting as I was so invested in the story of Isabel, John and the apes. However that is a small detail in a book from this wonderful storyteller. Highly recommended.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Read to Succeed Winners

Read to Succeed is over for another year and this week we celebrate the winners for 2010.

First place getter and the winner of a new (green) iPod nano is Ashleigh Milner from Kingsway School.

Runners up were Laura Bates from Rangitoto College and Caitlin Mowatt, also from Kingsway, who both receive book vouchers. A special set of book vouchers is awarded to Sam Sinnott from Kaipara College for the most entries into the competition (very impressive Sam)

Read to Succeed is our teen reading challenge which launches during Youth Week in May and runs right through to the end of Term 3. It challenges Rodney Year 9 to 13 students to read five different types of books (e.g. historical, science fiction, poetry, etc) and is designed to support the NCEA "wide reading" criteria. The schools this year were again very supportive of the challenge and entry numbers were up. So well done Rodney, congratulations to the winners and thanks to everyone for taking part.

Welcome to Auckland Libraries

Inspiring, engaging and informing you

Here is a message from Allison Dobbie, the Manager of the new Auckland Libraries which we are part of.

Kia ora and welcome to all the libraries of the new Auckland Council. I'm really excited to share the resources and opportunities that libraries bring to you...

The original Auckland City Library opening in 1880, thanks to Sir George Grey who had the foresight to gift his diverse book collection to the people of Auckland. Some 130 years later, there are now 55 libraries across Auckland. using your existing library card, you can have free access to any and all of them.

Libraries have changed enormously in recent years. They offer so much more than books - you can also check out dvds, audio books, materials in many different languages, music. They are a fantastic resource and play an important part in your communities by providing opportunities for you and your whole family to learn, to research, to attend story times and events, to browse, to study, to access the internet, to have a coffee, and to find a good book to relax with. Many library resources are available through our website so do check that out as well.

Libraries are great places to spend time - our buildings range from heritage landmarks to modern award winning spaces. Now you can use the libraries that suit you best as you go about your daily life, in conjunction with your work, sport, family or shopping. They are full of surprises and treasures, and will bring much pleasure and value to you and your family. There's something for everyone.

I invite you to discover and explore the libraries across the region. Enjoy!

Allison Dobbie
Manager - Libraries and Information

We will be posting more about all the fantastic resources at the Library (both old and new) in the coming weeks. Or pick up a brochure and bookmark next time you are here.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Friday Top 5 - Where to find us

You would have to be some sort of hermit, or have just been rescued from two years on a desert island, not to know that this is the last week of the Rodney District Council and that from 1st November we will all be part of Auckland City.

We've already touched on what that means for Library goers (more books, more resources, the same friendly smile). But today I just want to point you towards where you can find us on the World Wide Web because, we're not going anywhere.
  1. Rodney Libraries website. We have changed and updated our website. This only went live a couple of days ago so there may still be a couple of glitches to work out (let us know if you find anything). It looks a lot like the Auckland Libraries website which covers all 55 libraries, but if you want to look for specifically local content, this is the place to come.
  2. Rodney Libraries blog. Our daily diary of book reviews, library events and news from the library and literary world (plus local snippets) stays in the same place with the same look. With the departure of blogger rodneylibraries (Kris - Good luck for the future), regular posts will happen Monday, Wednesday and Friday. But there may be posts on the other days, so don't forget to check us out.
  3. Rodney Libraries Facebook page. Your chance to interact with us on one of the most popular social networking sites in the world. Links through to our catalogue and our blog. Tell us what you like best, what you want, and watch out for news of events happening in your local library.
  4. Rodney Libraries Twitter. Get quick updates and news by following rodneylibraries and/or kowhaireader on Twitter.
  5. Rodney Libraries Flickr. Relive the action from Clifford storytimes, see the team in action at work and out promoting the libraries at schools and Shows, watch as we make improvements to our libraries and find out what display has gone up in your local library.

Of course, for a catch-all the place you really need to check out next week is the new Auckland Libraries website. I know I will be.

Have a fantastic weekend everyone.