19 November 2015

Above the parapet



BWB Texts, published by Bridget Williams Books, is a series of “short books on big subjects by great New Zealand writers”, connecting readers with some of the country’s best short form books and long form journalism. Over 30 Texts are available.

In early November, Central City Library hosted three BWB Texts authors – Tracey Barnett, Shamubeel Eaqub, and Max Rashbrooke – in conversation with Bridget Williams Books publisher Tom Rennie. They talked about the connections between the ongoing debates on asylum issues, Auckland’s housing bubble and inequalities in New Zealand.

Hear the full event via our podcast. Click below to start listening, or search for “Auckland Libraries” in your favourite podcast app.

28 October 2015

Aucklanders book themselves in for sale

Book lovers on the hunt for a bargain flocked to Central Library in October, for their first book sale in nearly two years.

Central's Senior Librarian Jenny Cutting said she and her team were delighted with the enthusiastic response from customers, as the four day sale saw a flood of extra visitors coming through the library's doors.

"We were so pleased with the sale. Due to a number of factors, like refurbishment of our goods lift and public toilets, and the redevelopment of our children's area, we haven't been able to have a big book sale since November 2013," she said.

"We know this is a very popular event and it was great to see that despite the delay, Aucklanders came out in their droves to support us - and nab themselves some great reading material too."

Over 8,500 items were on offer over the four day period and included a mix of adult fiction, adult non-fiction, musical scores and CDs.

Ms Cutting said sale goods ranged in condition from “used to good or very good”, and each item had been checked for sale worthiness. They were all older or less popular items, had been replaced by updated material or were unneeded duplicates: their sale would make room for new stock to hit library shelves, she added. See Auckland Libraries' collection assessment policy for more information.

"There was nothing in the sale priced over two dollars, so it really was good value for people. We saw lots of customers leaving with heaving backpacks and bags full of books to take home and enjoy. It's great that these items can have a second life," she said.

All funds raised from the sale will be used for special projects at Central Library. The small amount of unsold material will be donated to a local charity, or the library may provide small "free" trolleys at the library in the coming months.



21 October 2015

Libraries' submissions help to lift Into the River restrictions

Auckland Libraries has welcomed The Film and Literature Classification Board of Review's decision to remove any age restrictions on Ted Dawe’s young adult novel Into the river.

An Interim Restriction Order, making it illegal to sell or distribute the novel in New Zealand, was placed on the book in September, after a complaint from the organisation Family First New Zealand. Prior to this, the award winning novel had been rated R14, also in response to a complaint from Family First.

General Manager, Libraries and Information Allison Dobbie submitted on behalf of Auckland Libraries to the Classification Board of Review in support of the book, on the basis that the work should be unrestricted. A supplementary submission, in response to comments made by Family First to Libraries' original submission, was also provided.

You can read the first full Auckland Libraries submission here, and the supplementary response here.

Auckland Libraries’ Manager, Regional Collections, Louise LaHatte said Libraries were pleased with the decision.

"We welcome the board’s decision to lift the restriction on Ted Dawe’s Into the river. We immediately began making copies available across our region’s network of libraries. We have a long list of requests, and customers who have been waiting will start to get notices advising they can pick it up from their local library.”

At the time of publication, there were 110 holds on Into the river.




6 October 2015

Into the River: in conversation with Ted Dawe

"Writers hold a mirror up to the world, and sometimes the world doesn't like what it sees. This is true in New Zealand. If 'Into The River' has made aspects of our society look ugly, then hiding the mirror will not make it beautiful again."  - Ted Dawe, September 2015

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We were delighted to have award winning New Zealand author Ted Dawe share his thoughts on the controversy surrounding his young adult novel, "Into the River", at Central Library last week.

If you missed Ted in conversation with Auckland Libraries' Regional Collections Manager, Louise LaHatte, you can hear the full event via our podcast. Click below to start listening, or search for "Auckland Libraries" in your favourite podcast app.


28 September 2015

Into the River and Banned Books: a conversation with the Office of Film and Literature Classification

Libraries all over the world will be celebrating the freedom to read during Banned Books Week at the end of September. This is especially topical in New Zealand right now, with the controversy surrounding Kiwi author Ted Dawe's award-winning young adult novel, Into the River.

We sat down with Michelle Baker, Acting Manager of the Information Unit at the Office of Film and Literature Classification, to find out more about Into the River and "banned books" in New Zealand.


Auckland Libraries: What’s the story with Into the River?

Classification Office: Into the River, published in 2012, was the winner of the Margaret Mahy Book of the Year Award at the 2013 New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards. Under New Zealand's Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993, books don't have to be classified before they are supplied to the public (in the way that films are). Instead, books are usually classified as a result of a submission from a member of the public, or enforcement action by Police, Customs, or the Department of Internal Affairs.

The organisation Family First made a complaint to the Department of Internal Affairs about the book, and as a result it was submitted to the Classification Office. It was classified using the criteria set out in the legislation, and was classified M (unrestricted, anyone can access it, but it’s more suitable for mature readers).

21 September 2015

25,000 Customers APPreciate Libraries app

With 25,000 downloads in the first six months, Auckland Libraries' customers are relishing the new app.

Auckland Libraries Digital Services Manager - Customer Interaction, Barbara Garriock, is pleased with the uptake, developed in response to strong customer demand.

"We are delighted the app has been so popular. We knew there was a growing expectation from customers that they should be able to access our services from a platform on their handheld devices - and according to our app provider, 69 per cent of library customers use mobile apps to access information. So we clearly needed to be in this space.

We also have  a commitment to make access to services and content as easy as possible for all customers.  Providing an app is part of that commitment," she said.

15 July 2015

The sweet sound of success at Central Library's music month storytime

A string quartet is more at home performing as part of Central City Library's Thursday Lunchtime concert series events than a children's storytime. But a bright idea from staff saw a regular Saturday programme turned into a celebration of song, story and dance for the central library's youngest customers.


Part of May's New Zealand Music Month festivities, the event was the brain child of Music Library Assistant Owen Gordon. Together with musicians Ainsley Murray, Kate Walshe and Ginny Hopkins who generously loaned their time and skills for free, the quartet incorporated music into every facet of the progamme, including the regular welcome song. They also provided special sound effects to stories The Toymaker and the Violin by Pamela Allen, and Willbee the Bumblebee by Craig Smith, The quartet particularly shone between stories with dance breaks, getting the whole audience on their feet.

26 April 2015

Books, beaches and buses: Auckland Libraries' scorching summer holiday programme

Heading to the beach over the Christmas holidays is as Kiwi as Wattie's Tomato Sauce, hokey pokey ice-cream and jandals. And with many beach-goers looking to relax there with a book or magazine, it was a natural fit for Auckland Libraries to hit the beach last summer!

With a fleet of four mobile libraries usually parked up during this period, Kumeu Community Library Manager Matthew Kerr, who had been working on a project to look at peoples' experience of using mobile libraries, saw an exciting opportunity to connect with and delight customers in an unexpected way.

"Summer is the one time of the year when mobile libraries are off the road. They normally get a service and thorough revamp over the Christmas and New Year period. This year we were able to get this work done fast and early, which enabled the buses to be available for something else. I really wanted to be able to show up to a spot where lots of people went over summer and surprise them by providing a full service pop-up library."

From this idea, the #ALBeachBus was born, and the response from local media and the public exceeded Matthew and his team's wildest expectations.

21 April 2015

Busting school holiday boredom with fun that's educational too (don't tell the kids!)

It's the cry all caregivers dread from children during the school holidays:

"I'm booooored!"

But Auckland Libraries helps banish the boredom with an assortment of events and activities every school holidays at all branches across the city. And they aren't just reading - these children are managing mischief too.

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Movies made by kids during Wellsford War Memorial Library's school holiday programme. 


Libraries Adviser Youth Service Development Wendy Dreadon says school holiday programmes aren't just about giving kids something to occupy them, but creating rich experiences for all library users, no matter their age.

"We want to surprise and delight our customers with our school holiday programmes. We want parents, guardians, caregivers, to come in and share their child’s experience, and see that libraries continue to offer valuable services for them. We also want customers that come in at the same time they are not participating, to stop and take a second look at what else their library offers, in case they didn't know."

In 2014 Auckland Libraries introduced "meaningful play" as the driver for children's activities. Wendy describes meaningful play as "imaginative, exploratory and expressive. It provides multiple pathways for literacy and learning."

9 April 2015

Guest post: Ian from Public Libraries News interviews us about Devonport Library

Ian Anstice is a passionate librarian from the North West of England. When he's not at his day job, he's busy running esteemed library website Public Libraries News.

Recently Ian interviewed Auckland Libraries regarding the newly opened Te Pātaka Kōrero o Te Hau Kapua - Devonport Library. He's kindly allowed us to reproduce his Q&A here.












Hi Auckland Libraries!

I come across some marvellous stuff while doing Public Libraries News. Devonport's new library caught my eye, not least because of the specially installed cat flap. Sadly, I'm not able to get to the other side of the world to see the lovely new building myself - would you kindly answer my queries?

Ian Anstice: Where was the funding obtained from the new library and what happened to the old one?

Auckland Libraries: The Devonport Library project was a $7.8 million Auckland Council-funded project. Auckland Council is a largely ratepayer-funded local government organisation. Some elements of the project were funded by supporting organisations, such as Te Rongo Kirkwood’s glass artwork in the foyer and the lights that hang in the Matariki (Pleiades) formation in the library which were funded by the North Shore Libraries Foundation.

The old library was demolished.

IA: Is it normal to have such add extra aesthetics - artworks, lovely ceiling, etc - to a library in Auckland?

AL: Auckland Council is a champion for quality urban design in the Auckland region, it sees good urban design as critical for enabling Auckland to become the world’s most liveable city.

26 March 2015

A New Zealand first: Auckland Libraries launches Chinese language Facebook page


Lunar New Year is known as an auspicious time for beginning new endeavours, and it was 19 February 2015, the dawning of the Year of the Ram, that Auckland Libraries chose to launch an exciting new initiative: a Chinese language Facebook page.

Manager Inclusive Service Design Abigael Vogt says with 39 per cent of Aucklanders now born outside of New Zealand, and with a significant Chinese population growing in the city, there is a clear need to connect with Chinese speakers in the social space.

"According to the 2013 census of the 54,000 Aucklanders who don’t speak English, 24,993 of them identify as Chinese. Facebook allows us to work in a language other than English and to be in conversation, reaching Chinese-speaking Aucklanders and beyond," Abigael says.

"Those who engage with us via the Facebook page may not traditionally be able to communicate easily with all staff or share their library experiences with ease. This is one way Chinese-speaking Aucklanders can do this, communicating in their own language and accessing the wide range of Chinese-language services, staff and materials that Auckland Libraries has to offer," she added.

The Facebook page is almost totally written in Mandarin, with three staff, all native Mandarin speakers, managing the page and writing content in simplified Chinese. It has a regionwide approach, sharing events and activities from across Auckland Libraries, as well as highlighting new items in Chinese that have been added to collections, as well as reading recommendations.

5 March 2015

From codex to Kobo: the Auckland Libraries eBook opportunity

The boom in eBooks and eReading has presented unprecedented challenges for Auckland Libraries. 

How do you read? In the bath or on the bus? Fiction or non-fiction? For work or for leisure?

In recent years, these traditional choices have been joined by those of a more technological nature such as: traditional book or eReader? Kindle or Kobo? Many readers have been converted to eReading by the cost and convenience of eBooks, even as they mourn the tangible qualities of a physical book.

Readers all over the world are embracing eReading technology as part of their everyday lives. 


The growth in eBooks and eReading of all types is one of the biggest technological step-changes of the last ten years. With the development of eReader technology, most famously the Amazon Kindle in 2007, eBooks have rapidly become easier to find, borrow and read.

This technological and cultural shift has had implications for public library systems all over the world, with many rushing to provide equitable access to digital versions of popular books. In 2007, Auckland City Libraries offered a new eBook lending service to customers via a platform called OverDrive, and free eBorrowing was made available to Aucklanders for the first time.

However, providing free eBook and eAudiobook lending services under the strictures of a public library system has proved an unprecedented challenge. Copyright issues, technological limitations, constantly evolving eReading technology and a rapid growth in demand have caused many a headache for those at Auckland Libraries for whom eReading is a key priority.

18 February 2015

Unitec students commemorate fallen soldiers through an interactive history experience

A collaborative multimedia exhibit revealing tales of home-grown war stories has inspired a new reciprocal relationship between Unitec and Auckland Libraries. 

The More than a War: Remembering 1914 – 1918 exhibition was produced during a series of workshops run by Auckland Libraries to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the First World War. It included a story of love and loss recreated from love letters from the war years, accounts of women working on the home front and the war efforts put in by Kiwi kids.


Students were encouraged to use a variety of media to tell their stories, including audio-visual production, a digital touchscreen, video looping and blogging.


The exhibition was produced as a labour of love by Unitec Communication programme Leader Dr Sara Donaghy and Libraries Oral Historian Sue Berman.

The project was set as an assignment for the programme’s first- and second-year students, and encouraged them to make their own connections with what was happening in New Zealand during the war - miles away from the battlefields.

Sara says they wanted the series of projects to focus on stories from the home front, teasing out forgotten pieces of history and cultivating cultural responses from her students.

“We wanted to not just create awareness of World War One content, but to also bring a youthful dimension in reimagining and reinterpreting the war in a way that speaks closer to the students and their peers,” says Sara.

22 January 2015

Craft and companionship forge closer community connections

As their fingers knit and purl beautiful woollen creations, something else is woven among the men and women who attend Auckland Libraries’ knitting groups – friendship.

As Monica Foster from Orewa Library explains: “We get together to knit, but it’s all about the yarn.”

Knitting clubs warmly welcome all attendees regardless of ability, age, gender or language. 

Monica’s group formed at the end of 2013 as a one-off Christmas decoration project. It quickly blossomed into a regular group that meets every Thursday morning for a cup of tea, a bikkie or two, and several hours of companionship and craft.

For the Orewa knitters, it’s also about charity: they use donated wool to create blankets, jerseys and slippers for Operation Cover Up, an initiative from Mission Without Borders, which sends these items to orphanages and the needy in Eastern Europe.

Although it started off with crafty origins, Monica says it is really all about the people.

“Our group has evolved and is now mostly attended by older women who may be widowed, unwell, lonely or depressed. Our weekly get-togethers are therapeutic - a reason to meet others, share and care, and keep minds (and hands) active,” she says.