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.