20 November 2014

More than just buildings: public art in Auckland Libraries

Two brand-new library buildings at Waiheke Island and Ranui are home to the usual things you'd expect to find in a modern library - books, magazines and DVDs for all ages, public-access computers and free wifi. 

But they are also home to unique and beautiful art works created especially for their people.  

People and pou at Waiheke Library.
Locals gather at dawn around the pou at Waiheke Library.
The pou are named Tikapa (front), Putiki O Kahu (centre) and Piritahi (back).
Opened in July 2014, the new Waiheke Library building features three works of permanent art that evoke the island’s distinct stories and character.

Auckland Libraries' Pou Whakahaere, Service Innovation Māori, Anahera Sadler says two of the artworks were developed in partnership with Ngati Paoa, mana whenua, or traditional owners, of Waiheke Island.

The decorative window at Waiheke Library.
The unique motif that wraps around Waiheke Library is
based on Taratara-ā-Kae, a crescent wave and whale motif.
One of these artworks is called Waiheke Pou Whakara. Created under the direction of head carver Chris Bailey (Ngāti Paoa, Ngāti Hako,Te Aupouri, Ngāti Porou), the three pou whenua and a navigation stone command the knoll on the uppermost northern edge of the Artworks precinct in which the library sits at Oneroa.

Also created in conjunction with Ngāti Paoa is the dynamic graphic print that wraps the library building's exterior and interior glass surfaces. Titled Ngaruhora by Lorna Dixon-Rikihana (Ngāti Paoa), it is based on Taratara-ā-Kae, a crescent wave and whale motif.

The third artwork is part of the library itself. The phrase "Lots of rain, lots of sun, lots of wind, lots of day, lots of night" is embedded into the walls of the new library building and took artist Kazu Nakagawa six months to create. The piece is titled Forty Nine Letters and pays tribute to Waiheke's changeable weather, which Nakagawa, as a long-time resident of the island himself, is very familiar with.

Meanwhile, etched into the building’s concrete floor with overlapping calligraphic script are the words 'whenua', 'land', 'hau' and 'wind' to form a lyrical pattern of repeating text. 

15 October 2014

Partnering for success: Auckland War Memorial Museum + Auckland Libraries

One of the biggest philosophical dilemmas facing libraries today is: how do we make our heritage collections accessible to the public while also protecting them for future generations? 

Kids interact with museum objects.
Kids are given the chance to directly interact with taonga from
Auckland War Memorial Museum at their local library. 
This problem is also faced by museums, art galleries and myriad other public institutions, and historically the answer has been to err on the side of keeping our taonga under lock and key, rather than placing them in the hands of the people.

However, this could all be changing with the implementation of the collaboration between Auckland Libraries and Auckland War Memorial Museum (AWMM).

As part of Pacific Language Weeks 2013, Auckland Libraries piloted a programme in partnership with the AWMM that saw staff from the museum bringing historic artefacts to libraries to deliver interactive storytimes and workshops on Māori and Pacific arts.

“Focus area 4: Priority- Work in partnership with Pacific people to develop programmes that are culturally relevant” - Te Kauroa.   

After evaluation of the 2013 programme, it was decided to extend the workshops and make them available to all 55 library branches throughout the year. Every library in Auckland was given the opportunity to participate and a toolkit of resources was made available to librarians who were interested in partnering with museum staff to deliver a workshop.

29 September 2014

Movie night at Parnell Library spotlights exciting local talent

Parnell manager Laura awards first prize for the
library's movie trailer competition.
Parnell Community Library manager Laura Caygill writes about the successful school holiday movie-making programme her staff ran and the smash-hit movie night they hosted as a result.

It’s 6pm on a Friday night in July. Normally the team at Parnell Library are tidying the shelves and making sure everything’s ready for tomorrow’s patrons. But tonight they’re setting up armchairs, checking equipment and preparing the library for a night of movies, pizza and celebrating the creativity of local kids.

Parnell Library’s Mini Prasad came up with the idea when thinking of ways to promote the LIANZA Children’s Book Awards. Her idea was this: kids could use iPads to make trailers for their favourite finalists in the awards and we, the library, could screen them before playing a movie.

With Hell Pizza generously sponsoring the awards, it seemed a no-brainer.

28 August 2014

Onehunga librarian opens a door into Kiwi life for Chinese Aucklanders

Mandarin-speaking residents of the Onehunga area have seized the opportunity to gain confidence in using local services thanks to a new initiative at their library.

Members of the Chinese settlers chat club.
The Onehunga Library Anju Chinese club.

Onehunga Library’s Anju Chinese club started in August 2013 thanks to librarian Annie Cui.

"We decided to develop a programme around our service offer to the growing Chinese community in Onehunga," Annie says.

"My initial thought was around promoting the Chinese collections and e-Resources relevant to Chinese customers. But upon discussions with some of the Chinese community members, this focus quickly changed.

"The Chinese community, mainly elderly, wanted not only to connect with the library, but also to learn basic daily English so they can connect better with the local community and contribute."

31 July 2014

Mega Matariki storytime offers collective storytelling experience for kids and whanau

Matariki is celebrated every year at Auckland Libraries with a month-long festival of events that also incorporates Te Wiki o Te Reo.

A librarian reads to children.
Kids and parents enjoy a mega Matariki storytime
at Otara Library in South Auckland.
This year’s Matariki celebration was something a little bit extra special due to the addition of a new event: a regionwide storytime, where libraries all across the Auckland region read the same story aloud simultaneously.

The story chosen for the mega Matariki storytime was Tāne and the Stars / Tāne me ngā whetū by Ron Bacon, illustrated by Manu Smith, which retells the traditional Maori tale of how Tāne, seeing the night sky so dark, made the stars and scattered them across the sky.

Pou Whakahaere (Māori Advisor) at Auckland Libraries, Anahera Sadler, coordinated the event and says this story was chosen because it includes Māori traditions and the seven stars of Matariki feature in the narrative.

But there’s also a more solemn reason why this particular book was an appropriate choice, she says.

29 July 2014

Central City children's area redevelopment has the "wow factor"

A forest has sprouted up in the Central City Library, complete with stream and a friendly taniwha - it’s the magical new children’s area.

The Central City Library children's area.
The new children's area is located on the ground floor of Central City Library. 

The revamped ground-floor space was developed in direct response to the growing needs of those living in Auckland’s central city. A survey of inner city residents and children in 2013 identified the need for a clean, safe, fun and accessible kids-only space within the CBD. The Central City Library junior area redesign flowed out of this. 

The striking and unique design includes a wooden reading tree in its centre with a hut or pā structure around it, through which children can climb and explore. A forest adorns one wall while the ceiling features a canopy of leaves. Blue twinkling lights symbolise the ancient Waihorotiu Stream, now hidden under Queen Street, while a shelving system in the shape of a friendly taniwha (that includes cushioned reading nooks) wraps around the area, creating a feeling of warmth and inclusion.

23 July 2014

Reading with Roo: a tail-wagger of a success story

A special four-pawed member of staff at Otara Library is helping young children boost their reading confidence.

His name is Roo and the retired champion racing greyhound provides a safe, accepting and non-judgemental ear for young people as they practice their reading skills.

A child reads to a dog.
Young reader Yasmin with Roo, whose couch potato manner
makes him the perfect dog for the programme.
The project is the brainchild of Senior Children and Youth Librarian Pritcilla Meikle, who was inspired to create a reading dog programme for her library after researching greyhounds as pets for her own family.

"I came up with the idea after researching greyhounds as a breed of dog as our family was looking at adopting one, especially after all the greyhounds we had met were just such calm and laid-back characters – and really good looking too!

"I found that many greyhounds in the UK and the US were not only pets, but also ‘reading dogs’ – helping kids gain confidence in their own literacy skills and creating a positive relationship between communities and local libraries."

As well as their calm, gentle “couch potato” manner, greyhounds also have a low shedding, low-allergy coat, and they are often used as therapy dogs here in New Zealand as well as overseas.

16 July 2014

Makerspace pioneers a whole new way of imagining library spaces

Central City Library is hoping to redefine the way we think about library spaces, services and communities with the establishment of its very own Makerspace. 

A Yoda figure on a robot car.
A 3D-printed Yoda figure atop a robotic car. 
The term “makerspace” is tricky to define – a makerspace can be a workshop, a technology suite or simply a meeting area. It often contains tools of some type, but these can include anything from knitting needles or bandsaws to 3D printers. Others constitute simply a space in which to meet and collaborate.

When the establishment of a makerspace was suggested at Central City Library in 2013, the widespread response was “What’s that?” Even tech-savvy librarians Hamish Lindop, Penny Dugmore and Baruk Jacob, who were asked to spearhead the project, admit they had no idea what they had been tasked with.

"We didn’t know what a makerspace was,” says Digital Outreach Librarian Baruk Jacob. “I’d never heard of it before. But the best way to find out anything is to start asking questions.”

On the list of community groups to talk to and engage with were members of the Tangleball “hackerspace” collective, technology agency Mindhive, mobile app developer App la carte, digital education specialist Mindlab and Vivenda, a 3D printing business. After several weeks of emails, phone calls, head-scratching and spit-balling, a vision for the Central City Makerspace started to materialise and the team decided they wanted this makerspace to be digital.

4 July 2014

Youth Gaming Club a huge success for Manukau Library

Big screens, Xboxes and teens whooping it up: it’s not your traditional library vignette but the scene you’ll find every second Sunday afternoon at Manukau Library.

Two boys playing video games.
The Youth Gaming Club was immediately
That’s when the Youth Gaming Club meets. This event is the brainchild of Library Assistant Joseph Tarrant who, as a heavy gamer himself, understood gaming was a great way to break the ice with youth and encourage them into the library space.

“I began the event in September last year with the intention to make a time just for teens, where they can relax, enjoy the library and play some games with their friends. The event is informal and held in the Youth section itself. It helps our young people claim the section as their own and it’s awesome to see our youth enjoying themselves in a safe environment,” Joseph said.

The club has proven to be instantly popular, with around 10-15 young people taking part each session. Joseph said he constantly sees new faces each month, including the first girl gamers recently joining the fold. While the number of attendees means there is some wait time for everyone to have a turn, this hasn’t been an issue so far.

“I’ve seen with the youth that have been coming to play that they really enjoy playing in a group, because if they aren’t playing themselves, they can still cheer their mates on,” he said.

25 June 2014

Focusing the lens on youth at Auckland Libraries

Getting youth behind the lens and learning about the power of imagery was the aim of Auckland Libraries’ May school holiday photography programme.

A photography display.
Images from Waiheke Library's workshops.
Participating libraries across the city held free workshops for young people aged 11-14 years  in conjunction with the Auckland Festival of Photography.

Libraries Youth Adviser Wendy Dreadon said the sessions had two aims: to teach visual literacy - the ability to read, understand and question the meanings of images, and to teach digital literacy - the ability to use tools and technologies to create, select and evaluate images.

“The focus of the workshops was not so much in teaching young people 'how' to use cameras or other digital devices to capture images - but to offer visual and digital literacy as an experience," she said. "Our young people explored stories, messaging and concepts through imagery, before planning and capturing their own photos.”

17 June 2014

Growing great things at Kumeu Library

Libraries are well known as places for growing great minds. But growing plants? This is what is happening right now through the Kumeu Library seed exchange.

A visitor to Kumeu Library.
Kumeu Library's seed exchange is
enjoyed by customers of all ages.
Developed by Community Library Manager Matthew Kerr, the project encourages library users to donate their excess fruit, vegetables, ornamental and native seeds to a central repository at the Kumeu branch, for others to then “borrow” or grow in their own gardens.

Matthew said he was inspired to start the seed library after reading an article on the Auckland Council intranet about a similar initiative called The Seed Box. Community Development Project Leader (Central) Ellen Schindler created a box of various seeds to be passed between interested participants who can take out seeds, as well as add their own, before forwarding the box on to the next person.

"I had been thinking about what new library collections could help the community," said Matthew. "I had been inspired by tool libraries and toy libraries in the US, but knew that starting one of those up was beyond my budget. I was in the midst of linking up with a local gardening club, when I read the story and knew I’d found what I was looking for.”

Such was the synergy between the two projects, Ellen donated seeds to form the initial offering for the Kumeu initiative.

Since its inception in January 2014 the seed exchange has thrived, with almost 300 people “borrowing” from it, as well as attracting lots of positive comments from customers.