Sunday, October 31, 2010

November 1st - Day Nine - The New Order

Practicum hours
Site: Auckland Library (not Auckland City Library)
hours worked: 4
hours to date: 55

Remember this?

Now it's this:

Today was the first day of the Auckland Council, formed from eight previously linked but autonomous regions. As such, all city functions are merged across this new 180 km (110 mi) long city of 1.4 million people. Auckland City Libraries, which were the 17 branches that served the Auckland City region are now part of the 55 branch Auckland Libraries. Cool!

The morning started with a short ceremony. Daniel, the Maori Services librarian opened with a short Maori address and led the group in a song. Here are the words:

Te aroha
Te whakapono
Me te rangimarie
Tatou, tatou e

In English, it reads:

The 'love'
The 'faith'
and the 'peace'
for everyone

Daniel told me that this is a common song used on many occasions. Then Geoff Chamberlain, formerly head of Northshore libraries now director of the group of 17 branches that are in the Auckland City region, gave us a quick reminder about where the library had been, where it's going and how excited he is to be a part of it with us.

What he talked about was really how this is not a new things for the library. In fact, the merger had been some ten years in the making. In order to serve patrons better, the libraries had developed a program called Libraries in the Greater Auckland Region (eLGAR). This program was about two key components of libraries: collections and customer service. The libraries had developed a catalog that combined collection records so that materials could be found in any region, although up until today there was a fee to borrow materials from other regions. The customer service aspect standardized service at all the libraries. So in this sense, libraries were well prepared for combined regional services, and not dreading it at all. In fact, everyone I met and talked with before today kept a very positive, sometimes eager, outlook on the change. Being in the business of information, the library kept employees informed so everyone knew how their roles would change and Allison Dobbie (library director of the entire Auckland Council) was always open about what changes were being made. There's no way to predict some things, such as how many holds or returns there will be, but everyone seems ready to go with it.

After the ceremony, it was business as usual. I observed (and hokey-pokeyed with) Erika in Wriggle & Rhyme. Today's concepts included training eye movement and including a variety of sensations in naming body parts. Then I prepared for storytime by using the online catalog and the Novelist database. Very excited for tomorrow! I also prepared for several meetings tomorrow including time with Jan, Chinese services specialist.

in the staff room
hot chocolates today:1 (short day)
hot chocolates to date: 11

Saturday, October 30, 2010


I'm in business! I was walking around Upper Queen street trying to figure out where to top up (refill) my bus pass card with more credit because someone had mentioned that a particular chain of convenience stores would have that capability. Not finding one quickly, I got distracted and entered an interesting looking secondhand store. And just inside the door were the bikes! All the bikes I've seen in the paper and in stores like Pennyfarthing and T. Whites have been crazy expensive, from $400 up to $5000. Not kidding. Even the rustiest clunkers on trademe, a kiwi version of craigslist cost $150 at least. Forget that. I got really lucky and scooped up a winner for $65 bucks. It's a Merida Albontech 870, apparently a real old model.

It needed a little work so I got some guides (from the library) and set to work yesterday. I cleaned some of the rust, adjusted front and rear brakes and got the front gear shift to work by adjusting the front deraileuueur. The rear tire had a slow leak, so I managed to get that apart and fixed the teeny hole by just covering it with some silicone. I'll probably need to get a proper patch on it, but it seems to be holding for now. Marianne generously let me borrow a gel seat cover which will really save my butt. I bought a bike lock and a light which together cost as much as the bike itself, but at least I'm road ready now. I asked the folks at the bike shop about Critical Mass, but they thought I was some kind of weird missionary. The Auckland CM website is vague and uninformative, totally in line with the "spontaneous" and "leaderless" rides that take place on the last Friday of every month. I can't wait to hang out with the fixies around here.

I went for a long bike ride last night to celebrate my new found transportation capability. Along with a satisfying workout and the thrill of being back on a bike, I got a keener sense of the geography of Auckland. Possibly due to its volcanic history, there are places of incredible steep inclines and declines surrounded by long, gradual slopes. Nowhere is Auckland flat. On my ride, I came across a burger and coffee joint that you could sit at or drive through. Here's a slightly Nighthawks-esque scene from the place.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Around Auckland

A few photos and curios from around town:

From the cemetery near Grafton and Symonds street. Original cemetery for the Scottish settlers.

Pretty dresses at a shop called Anne Stanton (I think)

Fun at the Maungawhau playground. These super fun wire swings are called Flying Foxes.

This restaurant, which serves great thai, is called Otto Woo*. You can see here what the * refers to.

Full moon rise over eastern Auckland

Enough LOL cats. Time for us to be honest about what kitties have on their minds.

Mosaic near the library. For reference, the US amended the constitution allowing the same in 1917.

This would be a very different book on American shelves.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

October 28th - Day Eight - On the Road

Practicum Day 8

Site: Mobile Library
hours worked: 8
hours to date: 51

The mighty engine strained against the weight of a modified cargo truck full of large print, western and romance novels as Sid lurched the mobile library out of the driveway early last Thursday (B) morning. I was seated in the library function chair that faces the inside of the bus, observing the stacks of books and magazines that obediently stayed put while Sid drove up and down the hills of eastern Auckland. Thursday (B) is a busy day on the mobile with eight stops to make. The morning stops were to relatively quiet neighborhood locations that afforded Sid time to show me the collection and some of the functions on the computer. The mobile library has the capacity to do everything a desk at City Center branch might do. It has a computer equipped with cellular internet so the circulation and hold functions are integrated without delay. This proves to be useful since the mobile has a biweekly (I began to enjoy the term 'fortnightly') schedule and many patrons make lists of requests.

The mobile library has special parking spots designated with the day and time of the stop.

The mobile library is yet another example of responding to community needs. Sid drives four days a week and sees an averages of 33 people per day over 8-10 stops. I found that he knew, before they even got on the bus, who would be coming and whether they would be late or early at the stop. He knew the patrons so well that he set aside books and authors he knew certain patrons would really enjoy. The patrons eagerly came onto the mobile to greet Sid and chat with him about their news, while Sid asked about theirs and passed greeting onto anyone who wasn't able to make it this week. Senior citizens in Auckland can get a Gold Pass for unlimited free use of the buses and trains which many use to come to the library. Even so, I have to think that Sid's customer service has a lot to do with how the use of the mobile library by senior citizens has increased in the last 18 months. Outreach to children is in progress. Stopping near schools hasn't been as successful as hoped. No teens at all use the bus.

You can see a little bit of the bulletin board with notices of interest.

The mobile also collects returns which are processed as would happen in the library. Since the entire fiction collection is floating, anything returned to the mobile library stays on the bus. This is okay since the readership is fairly consistent. Large print, magazines, romance and westerns dominate the mobile collection. In regard to magazines, it seems better to have more subscriptions to weekly or fortnightly magazines than even the monthly titles since this improves selection for popular topics. Doreen also helps with this service by selecting materials based on Sid's feedback. She makes visits to some of the rest homes and retirement communities that are on the route so that they know what kinds of services are available when Sid stops there.

in the staff room
hot chocolates today: 1 (I was thirsty when we got back at end of the day)
hot chocolates to date: 10

October 27 - Day Seven - Te Puna (the pool)

Practicum Day 7

site: City Centre branch, information services
hours worked: 8
hours to date: 43

If you need help fixing your chainsaw, I know exactly where you need to look. Carol is a senior reference library and keeper of the car, boat and small engine manuals (among many other topics of course). Since these books are among the most used and are relatively expensive to buy, there is an extensive reference only (non circulating) collection. There are two interesting aspects to a collection like this. One is that since the call numbers are almost all the same, they are not helpful for quickly finding a particular book. So Carol invented a new cataloging system just for these books based on subject first (car, truck, motorcycle...) then make, then year. This system was begun a long time ago and now the challenge is to make these books findable to librarians who are using the online catalog or the Millenium catalog software (since they don't have call numbers). Dealing with this takes staff time, which is always valuable. I toured this collection with Fran, the new leader of Information Services. She has a keen eye for making sure that the collections and services are offered in a way that really makes sense, and she has a keen ear for understanding how staff feels about the work they are doing. Fran pointed out that as cars become more technical and fewer people can easily do work on them a collection manuals, so popular now, may face some changes in the future. If I am learning any lesson in all this library work, it's to not hold on too tightly to anything except a few core ideas about free access and customer service. Everything will change sooner or later, and better to understand and anticipate than react and miss out.

The rest of the morning was spent with Teresa and C.J. who detailed interloans - wow there is a lot to know about here. Basically Auckland City Library is part of a national network (known as Te Puna, meaning pool of knowledge or resources) that sends and receives material, including books, audio visual and magazine and journal articles. What's interesting is that not only does the library support other library's customers, it also has a relationship with the local government to do research, and it also generates revenue by providing research to corporations! They call this Information Supply Service, and it costs $40/hr. Corporations pay an annual fee plus the charge for each request. There is an additional charge for an urgent request. Corporations pay for this service for three reasons: 1 - Access to many many resources that are only needed infrequently, and therefore not worth purchasing themselves (such as building standards). 2 - The expertise of librarians in using and navigating those resources. 3 - The privacy ensured by the library. Companies who want to bid on a project need to know, for instance, specifications of building a office tower in Australia. But they might not want their competitors to know they are thinking about making a bid. The library's dedication to privacy is important to them.

The interloans team processes requests made by Auckland residents and fulfils requests made by patrons of other libraries. It's interesting to me whether libraries consider interloan to be a core part of access or not. Some libraries have truncated or eliminated their service because it is too expensive while others have decided that it is an important part of free access to information. I think the decision comes down to funding, but the collection development policy of the library is clearly a factor. Here is Auckland Library's CD policy. For individuals, the library does not pass on the cost of interloan to the customers. It does charge $15 NZ (~$11 US) per request. Since they use a courier service, and the last pickup is at the end of the day, materials arrive at their destination the next morning! Auckland City Libraries send out about three times as many materials as they do requests, so perhaps the service is paying for itself (I don't have an idea about what other libraries charge). It also seems like the interloan team operates in a similar way to other librarians with a specialized focus in that their experience allows them to be familiar with the collections of many public and academic libraries, and often making the right request to the right location increases efficiency.

Another important service is keeping the public informed about governmental issues. Laws, standards, and notices are kept and organized by Jo with whom I met this afternoon. She arranges displays for items of public interest such as standards for things like building a deck on your house. She also organizes updating local and national statutes, the text of bills and acts from national government and helps look after the law resources. I could really get a sense from her about the importance of organizing truly vast quantities of information. Librarians are so necessary as this process is in no way automatic and takes a careful and trained professional to make finding relevant information in a timely way at all possible.

in the staff room
hot chocolates today: 2
hot chocolates to date: 9

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

October 26th - Day Six - Learning Services

Practicum Day 6
site: City centre branch, Learning Services
hours worked: 6
hours to date: 35

Today I met the Learning Services and Information Services team. Gerard is the reference librarian who leads a team of six others in providing specialized learning services including computer and internet classes, and the Book A Librarian program. He was great at introducing me to the responsibilities of the team, which overlaps with information services to a high degree. Overseeing collection development and maintenance of the adult non-fiction takes up the majority of time, the balance spent in providing reference and computer help.

The tasks that are specific to the Learning Services team revolve around teaching computer skills in classes attended by the public and leading internal training sessions. They also develop materials or classes for special promotion weeks. If a large enough group in the community was interested in a training, responsibility would fall to this team.

There are twelve classes offered each month. These are general interest or skills like computer basics, job searching, Microsoft products, using the online catalog and online searching. There are other specialized classes offered less frequently. I got to observe Rob conduct the job searching class. His insight is that patrons prefer learning everything in one session and that they are not so in need of instruction as guided practice. Patrons can take home handouts with the websites highlighted in the class for further exploration.

In the afternoon, I was invited to an Information Services staff meeting. Information services is responsible for many of the same aspects of the library as Learning Services, mostly adult reference, but Info Services maintains the more specialized areas such as music, law and business. At the meeting we discussed common library issues but one of particular interest was signage. There is a need to inform patrons of reminders, such as to keep an eye on belongings, but there are good ways and better ways. For instance, "Keep an eye on your belongings" might sounds better than "You are on closed circuit TV". However, both of these are lost on you if you happen to be a foreign traveller in an international city like Auckland and don't speak English.

in the staff room
hot chocolates today: 2
hot chocolates to date: 7

Monday, October 25, 2010

October 22nd - Day Five - The National Library

Practicum Day 5
site: National Library, Auckland location; city centre branch
hours worked: 5
hours to date: 29

New Zealand's national library exists to preserve the printed documents produced by the people of New Zealand and the surrounding areas, roughly similar to the Library of Congress. The Auckland location that I had the pleasure of touring exists completely to support the educational system of the country. There is an amazing amount of information, innovation, networking, and technology going on there. Imagine! A nationally funded library devoted to services to schools, educators, school libraries and librarians! Definitely check out their expansive website here.

I'll describe the National Library in three parts: the building, its use and the collection, the website, which they prefer to see as an online content delivery service, and the Any Questions online homework help service.

The National Library in Auckland is located on a busy street just on the edge of the Central Business District. Traffic stopped at the red light just outside gets a glimpse of the busy building that completed its renovation just a few months ago. Looking in "The Window", they see visiting classes of children and groups of teachers meeting for various professional development opportunities like software training or writing workshops presented by prominent New Zealand writers. While I was there, it was casually pointed out to me that Brian Falkner was speaking (think Eoin Colfer or Margaret Peterson Haddix). The current ground floor exhibition has interactive touch screen displays that navigate through digitized photos of Auckland local history from the National Digital Heritage Archive. I found this to be an awesome and forward thinking use of technology to bring library collections and services to the general public. The Service to Schools program, in addition to the workshops, has developed the Learning Studio. From the brochure: "a place for educators to collaborate on ways to use the rich resources of the National Library's collections. Teachers and school library staff can search browse and create their own resources using a range of technologies." The School Library Association of New Zealand holds meetings here. The National Library prepares for the future of libraries by weaving together professional development, utilizing typically museum oriented technology to explore library materials, and a broad public exposure. I was also entranced (really) by the collection. In line with the services to school, the materials were focused on children which means an enormous non-fiction collection and (my favorite) a large collection of picture books with multiple copies of everything. Loan periods for books are for a school term, so the multiple copies policy supports lending for long periods. I got to see a typical request filled. A teacher had requested books on wind, kites and flying. A librarian went around finding age-appropriate books on these subjects, packed them in a box and got them ready to ship to the teacher.

The National Library considers their online presence ( be more than a website, instead they call it an online content delivery service. There concept of a digital library or digital branch promises a lot more now that ways to interact online are becoming easier and websites can be more responsive to users. They develop online resource units based on hot topics to compliment the books that are going out, they maintain forums for teachers to discuss issues with others in their area, they provide online professional development and address four goals: Developing Libraries, Creating Readers, Supporting Maori Learning and understanding 21st Century Learning and Literacy. This last section focuses on positioning school libraries to handle the changes in way education is headed. Their idea is that "knowing" and "literacy" in the future will be based on inquiry and critical thinking, and so they provide resources to help school librarians understand this and use the library to support it. Take a look at this page on School Library futures. Technology and its use in the classroom is another exciting issue addressed. That page explains how educators can think about the trends in emerging technology (reality simulation, crowd computing, wirelessness) and use them to re-imagine teaching. It's all kind of unbelievable and completely exciting in some ways.

Lastly, the Any Questions? and the te reo (Maori language) service - - are managed out of the National Library. They get funding from the Ministry of Education (reviewed annually) to provide real time homework help to the entire nation's worth of school students, geared for primary and secondary students but university students would probably be helped as well. The service doesn't just do homework or find answers for students. It uses the live connection to teach some information literacy and research skills. The compliment website Many Answers stores websites for topics that are frequent requests. The service operates Monday through Friday 1-6pm all year long and sees eight to ten thousand visitors annually. There are about 130-150 operators nationwide that log in on a schedule, most for 1-2 hours a week. If you would like a bookmark about the service, they gave me plenty to take home with me.

After this eye opening visit, I came back to the city centre library to work a while in the afternoon which ended, as most do, with a hot chocolate.

in the staff room
hot chocolates today: 1
hot chocolates to date: 5

To Catch A Fish

Last weekend, I got to have fun with Marianne and Terry at their house at Langs Beach, just up the road about one and a half hours northwest of Auckland. The house, of course, is spectacular. Here's the view:

Terry is an avid kayak fisherman. His rig is totally sweet: little places for bait, a line for fish, a nice fast craft. I am not an avid kayak fisherman, but here I am playing the part:

Terry guided me out to sea, literally to sea. If you could keep going past us in the picture, you would run into the Chilean miners. Note: take the waves straight on, otherwise you're in the drink.

So, being an avid kayak fisherman, Terry caught a red snapper within ten minutes. And me, not being an avid fisherman, caught seaweed. But we kept trying. The gannets that flew around overhead were fun to watch. They sweep wide circles in the sky and then suddenly dive, swoosh! right into the water. After a bit they come up, usually with a wriggling catch for themselves. We thought that they must know something we didn't, so we followed them to their spot. Lo and behold, fish! I caught the next one, a real struggle for me (not an avid fisherman, see above) but Terry was a fantastic coach and we got him in. A while later, Terry reeled in out third snapper and gurnard to round it off. Here I am taking all the credit for Terry's hard work:

Now, we are not the only ones involved in this deal. It was a true team effort. Since Terry is an avid fisherman, Marianne is an avid fishercook, so she whipped ol' Snappy into a very delicious meal.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

October 21st - Day Four - Kia ora! Visiting a marae

Practicum Day 4 - 10/20
hours worked: 6
hours to date: 24

It's probably hard for those of us in places like Ohio and Pennsylvania to really understand Native American culture. We might have been to the recent exhibit of artifacts at the art museum, or remember reading The Indian in the Cupboard, but tragically these are no comparison to the level of exposure that some fortunate New Zealanders are able to get to Maori culture. It may be too much to go into the back story of the Maori here but you need to know that there are places where contemporary Maori follow traditions and in the last 15 years the government has put programs in place to help bolster the practice and understanding of Maori culture and language. You can read about the Maori Language Commission here. The library's website (bilingual itself) has a page of Maori resources here.There are other programs within schools that teach bicultural and bilingual lessons. I got to experience a little bit of that today when I accompanied Daniel, the Maori services librarian, to Puna Reo Kura Marae on Waiheke island. A marae is a Maori living and meeting place where traditional culture is practiced.

Entering a marae starts with a formal welcoming process called powhiri ("wh" is pronounced as "f"). The powhiri includes speaking, singing and a welcoming gesture. The speaking parts give introductions and thanks, and also acknowledge the present deceased. There is also a part that celebrates the living: "It's great to be alive!" The singing and some of the dances are traditional songs and hakas, and the greeting is a clasping of hands and touching foreheads and noses. This shows closeness, so close that you are sharing breath. After you have been greeted this way, you are part of the marae and greet other visitors in the same way.

Here I can describe the library angle. Through Daniel, the library collaborated with a nearby elementary school and the marae to engage students on the marae. Daniel led the school's part of the powhiri and once the students were welcomed, he told stories about the origin of moko (tattoo) and explained how the library has information for them about Maori culture. In this, I saw Daniel not only represent library materials with the books that he brought, but also being an example of how some knowledge is stored in people. (Aside: Auckland City Library recognizes this through their Book a Librarian program).

Being on the marae was not so much a structured program or cultural sketch, but more of an experience of community. At first I felt trepidatious so as not to commit any unintential offense, but I quickly saw that there was a general feeling of community. There was definitely a sacred element about the place and the buildings on it. The main meeting houses are built, designed in fact, to symbolise ancestors. The top of the roof is the face, and the long beams coming down the the ground are the arms. The beam in the middle of the roof is the backbone, and the rest of the roof beams are ribs. Each rib is carved with a Maori story in it. The ribs rest on tree trunks carved with ancestors of the marae. It's all very beautiful.

There were maybe a hundred and fifty children that came to the marae to hear the stories, follow customs, learn the arts of the Maori and become part of the marae. Currently, about 1/7 th of NZ's population is Maori, and the government language initiatives have helped advance awareness of Maori culture to others. It seems like an important focus for libraries to support these Maori collaborations, both to preserve what is there now and to provide services to that part of the population.

in the staff room
hot chocolates drank: 0
hot chocolates to date: 4

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

October 20th - Day Three

Practicum Day Three
site: City Centre branch
hours worked: 4
hours to date: 18

A short day today. I reviewed the award winning Storytime training manual written by super Children's Reference Librarian, Erika. There is a quote on the first page that I am going to steal and put here:
"I often remind myself of the purpose of storytime: to introduce the pleasure of stories, to inspire excitement about learning to read, and to provide access to the world of books and ideas. What children gain is what we all gain from reading stories: entertainment and diversion, vicarious experience, and information."
Cobb, Jane, comp. 1996. I’m a little teapot! Presenting preschool storytime.
Vancouver: Black Sheep Press

Apart from the love of reading, early literacy plays an important role in storytime planning. There are a lot of similar elements to storytime that I am familiar with: welcome songs, stories, fingerplays, and music. What is cool about this manual is the explanation for the inclusion of the elements. For instance, we add music and movement not only to be inclusive of various learning styles, but to develop these senses in each child in the audience. I also met with Anna, the Children's Librarian at the Epsom branch. She invited me to observe the storytimes at her branch. There are two unique styles. One is that storytime is presented by two people, the other is their Play Dads program geared at male caregivers. Very cool.

I continued working with the super Children's Reference Librarian, Erika, who also happens to be the super Online Reference Librarian when she logs into Any Questions?. This is an online homework service that operates M-F, 1-6pm. It's nationwide for patrons up to 18 years old. The interesting part is that they consider it part of their mission to teach information literacy. For instance, instead of just finding a website with relevant information, they tend to guide the student to google, then do a shared-view search and explain which hits will be the best.

Speaking of youth library services, I am so intrigued that Auckland City Libraries offers multiple card types, including a few options for youth. If you are under 18, your parents can co-sign for a card that lets you borrow up to 35 items. If they can't or won't sign, you can still get a card that allows you to borrow 5 items at a time. Parents can also opt for this restriction (in fact it's called Under 18 Restricted card) if they wish. But I think it's so amazing that the library takes service to youth so seriously that it will forgo, with a limit, the need for a financial guarantee in order to really provide everyone with access to information.

in the staff room
hot chocolates today: 1
hot chocolates to date: 4

Monday, October 18, 2010

October 19th - Day Two

Practicum Day Two
site: City Centre branch
hours worked: 7
hours to date: 14

Today I met with Annie who is the Teen librarian here. She assists in teen selection, a responsibility that few other people have because the preponderance of the purchasing for the 17 branches is done centrally. She also manages some of the content for the teen section of the website which includes teen written reviews. In her spare time she also serves on the council for Storylines, an organization that promotes literature to young people. They do a lot, for instance coordinating a weeklong celebration or writing and illustration that draws thousands. They also give awards for children's materials, as does the Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa.

I attended storytime with Doreen who presented stories about Diwala, the upcoming Indian festival of lights. The library has coordinated a day that will involve performers and activities for children around this holiday next week. I observed Ben and Vivian read a story and lead a tour of four and five year olds in the library. Vivian was well practiced and presented library materials in a way that would encourage young children to return to see them again. The whole Community Outreach team seems adept at this. Erika has developed a slew of materials that children can use when they come to the library such a memory matching cards, word searches, and games that teach them how to find interesting or familiar topics in the dewey decimal system. Lin and I talked for a while about how the use of the library has shifted in the last few years, and how her team of eleven diverse, talented and motived staff members respond to that. Initially when it reopened the library was host to many university students. That is still mainly true, but there have been many young families making more use of the library. From the beginning, the library aimed to be not only a main branch but a community branch for the downtown area. More families are renting apartments downtown, and so there has been an increase in the services the Community Outreach team provides to children.
The library has had a long relationship with the nearby Auckland Art Gallery. Initially, this would take the form of displays and programs that complimented the theme of gallery shows, and this continues even though the gallery has had some slowdown for renovation. The school groups that use one often visit the other. The library itself hosts at least two school groups per week, not as a rule, but just to keep up with demand.

I'm starting to understand the idea of a Community Outreach team. The more I see, the more it seems that every library should have staff that specifically pay attention to the ways that the community want to use the library and provide those services. There is a dedicated Maori services librarian, and a Chinese services librarian. Even the parts of the collection that are considered to be reflective of specific parts of the community, such as the foreign language materials, are under the auspices of the CO team. This seems to work: ten percent of the magazine circulation is attributed to Chinese language magazines.

In the afternoon I was invited to a meeting of the children's librarians! Up for discussion were some changes taking place as a result of the impending almagamation of the seven councils into one, and the types of youth library cards and their various levels of borrowing rights (the rights related to number of materials, not types). We also discussed summer reading, which of course involved talks about parties, stickers, prizes and reading. Very fun. The librarians were also asked to share a recent favorite book. It was really wonderful to be part of an appreciative, animated and professional discussion of picture books.

in the staff room
hot chocolates drank: 2
hot chocolates to date: 3

Sunday, October 17, 2010

October 18th - Day One

Practicum Day One - 10/18
site: City Centre Branch, orientation
hours worked: 7
hours to date: 7

It's finally October 18th, which means that I have finally started my practicum work! After such a long long period of looking forward to it, I get to find out that it is everything I was anticipating and more. I was met early this morning by my practicum superviser, Lin Kaiser, who manages the Community Outreach team. In short order I was introduced to a calvalcade of welcoming librarians and managers who work in various posts throughout the library, almost all of whom I will get the chance to work with over the next few months. This includes supervisors of children's services, information services, reader services, learning services, music collection, selection and acquisition, and more.

I've got a general sense of the library now. The City Centre branch was renovated about four years ago with an emphasis on being a community library. To do this, they made several dramatic changes. The ground floor is given to high interest and high traffic areas such as children and teen services, DVDs, a newszone with newspapers and a tv set to BBC or CNN, popular magazines, adult fiction, 20 minute express computers and a cafe. The second floor is more specialized: adult non-fiction, music, a small public meeting room, reservable computers, and section for citizen's information (renting, taxes, legal issues) including the New Zealand version of a notary public. The third floor has the local history and geneaology collections, special collections including some beautiful rare books, and special meeting room where Maori traditional rules are observed. One particularly interesting decision that was made during the renovation was to shelve the majority of the collection in the basement. This gives an enormous amount of floor and office space that is used quite well. Most of the available seats and much of the floor was full of students and patrons using the free wifi. The books in the basement are retreivable through a book delivery machine. Imagine Mr. Roger's trolley if it could go on walls and ceilings and deliver books to programmed stations. Librarians and assistants take scheduled turns in the basement finding books and sending them to the station that requests them. This service model reflects two modes of patron behavior: 1) community use is becoming a more important role for the library and 2)patrons who need information are often looking for a specific book rather than browsing. I'm not sure if this system inhibits the public, or librarians, from accessing books that they might if they were more casually available, but I am sure that this library is a very vibrant busy place.

I observed Wiggle and Rhyme time today. In conjunction with Auckland Sport, the Community Outreach team developed a program of 10-12 sessions that teach early literacy principles to parents of 0-2 year olds through music and movement. This program has been hugely successful, gaining at times a hundred active participants. I got to do the hokey pokey, which put today's attendance at 55. And get this! There are two machines in the staff room that dispense free hot chocolate!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Friday Afternoon and Weekend

After the Beachlands Excursion, Marianne Sam and I walked up around One Tree Hill. Stunning place, all the way up and down. Check it out:

At the moment it is actually No Tree Hill, as the tree was removed in 2002, I think. There is a monument at the top dedicated to the Maori people who, at the time were thought to be going extinct (today, 1/7 of New Zealand's population is Maori). The sheep belong to farmers who rent the land from the city which works out well for both since the hilly, terraced terrain once used as storerooms and houses by the Maori are terribly hard to mow.

And here is a picture of a gigantic tree. Good lord, was it gigantic.

As if that wasn't enough scenery for one day, we all took a trip to Terry and Marianne's beach property at Langs Beach, about an hour and a half up the coast to the northwest of Auckland, on the northside. On a map, you'd find it close to Waipu, which has an astounding history of its own. Scots who chose to leave their homelands in the late 1810s travelled to Nova Scotia to escape British persecution. After 30 years of hard work to establish a colony there, the potato blight hit in 1848 prompting them to leave and head for Australia on the reports of land and work. They arrived in the middle of a gold rush and thousands of other immigrants. So they kept going, eventually making it to Auckland and then further up at Waipu. Great museum with all this there. Anyway, here's the view from the porch at the beach house:

Another view, this one of a nearby creek and Hen island, I think.

Stay tuned for the exciting report of sea kayak fishing and subsequent dinner!

Friday Morning

Am I getting tired of having adventures everyday? No. Although I suspect that the sort of guazy-eyes I have at each new thing will at some point focus on what New Zealand might want to promote for itself, but for now I am more than satisfied to be completely obsessed with the more or less normal parts of life here (oooh! a roundabout! ooooh! a litre of something!). Among the vistas that New Zealanders may take in stride that I have not yet seen enough of is beaches. Friday morning was a trip to Beachlands, just to the southwest of Auckland.

Just on this one small beach near some property that Marianne and Terry are putting on the market, I found some really exciting photos. There was an old shack built on the beach, maybe used for housing a boat or something, but it appeared to be abandoned now.

I have become very fond of the Pohutukawa (you sort of say Pu-ta-cow-ah) tree. They are a native NZ species that are sometimes called a Christmas tree because the bloom vibrant red flowers in the summer. They are all over the place, literally, since the can grow on the very edges of cliffs. Sometimes, the cliffs erode or crumble and the tree just deals with it. I found this one almost looking like it was walking down onto the beach.

A little further down the beach was a sea cave! I was really jazzed about this. It was big enough to climb in and probably filled up at high tide. It got me thinking how excited I am for Harry Potter 7 (which incidentally debuts in New Zealand on NOVEMBER 18th! Too bad, America!)

After some time on the beach here, we headed to a small area where we had a coffee. I usually order a 'tall black' (an americano) or a 'flat white' (a less-foamy cappucino). The view of Rangitoto and Waiheke Islands was a little shrouded, but still impressive to me. I also found a little place where I'd like to drop off my resume....

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

My, Auckland, but you have a lot of places to walk

My first real day hoofin it around Auckland. I started by trying to catch the bus into town, but the bus didn't stop at the stops near Epsom Girls Grammer School (which is near me), so I kept walking. I walked under the South Motorway, which is having some construction done on it. When we passed by this thingamarig last night, Terry called it some 'mechano', which of course made me think of some mad villian who uses construction equipment in his (or her) nefarious schemes.

I made it to Auckland domain. A domain is where a volcano crater has been turned into beautiful parkland. Auckland domain is one of, if not the largest. It has some cricket pitches, however they are supposed to work, and it is also home to the Auckland War Memorial Museum:

The grounds continue for quite a ways, with tended gardens and ponds. To give a sense of placement, you can get pretty lost in the parts with trees and not really see the city if you don't want to.

At the top of one of the hills in the domain was this fenced in tree. There was no explanation, just a fence carved with Maori imagery, and then a cruder fence outside of that. It felt very strange and special around this tree.

More walking walking walking, I made it to Albert Park, which is right across the street from the LIBRARY! and Auckland University. Many many people out and lounging, riding skateboards, rolling huge balls made of toilet paper (not lying) and playing sports. Directly across from me, in the very center of this picture, are a young woman and man sitting on a bench. The man was reading a book and the woman inched closer and closer trying to look at the cover, but really trying to get his attention. It was a very sweet exchange moment.

So the guys playing rugby also caught my eye. Stiller fans are worldwide!

Finally caught a bus back to Mt. Eden domain near where I'm staying. I walked up to the top again for a rest and was rewarded with this here. Rangitoto island looks so inviting out there in the bay.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Hello, my dear Auckland!

I am here! Yes, in Auckland, New Zealand! Nearly a year after first hatching this crazy scheme I have made it and love it already. Still fruit loops after nearly 24 hours of travel and flying around the world being chased by the dawn when it caught up with me this morning. The in-flight info told me that we were traveling at Mach 0.85, which means I watched Raising Arizona and the new Robin Hood at very nearly the speed of sound.

I am staying with two extremely wonderful, generous, intelligent, involved, lovely people named Marianne and Terry Kayes. Here they are, I hope you get to meet them someday:

Today, Marianne took me on a walk of the neighborhood. Within a few moments of leaving the house, we came to the top of one of Auckland's 29 extinct volcano cones. Somehow, I find the cone to be a bit friendlier for being all grassed over. The weather was cloudy and cool. To the left you'll see downtown Auckland, and to the right, across the bay, you can see Rangitoto Island.

I haven't taken too many pictures of Auckland yet, but stay tuned. The library internship sets sail this Monday!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Farewell, my dear Oakland

With two days left in America, I decided to retrace my childhood steps around Oakland. I went to Anderson playground across a bridge from my house. I remember as a kid that it used to have a huge ball maybe 15 feet in diameter with holes cut out that you could climb, and a slide around both sides so that the hole thing resembled a planet. They've redone it since then; there are swings there now:

I used to play on the train tracks down under Panther Hollow Bridge. Walking along the tracks, I saw a lot of places that people had put coins on the rails and wait for the trains to come through and schmear them out.

The tracks lead up to my high school which is right next door to WQED, the local PBS station. It was in there that Mister Rodgers filmed his iconic series. Passing over the nearby campus of Carnegie Mellon University, I came across some students playing some bizarre game on a green in the gathering dusk. It turned out to be rugby, which I took to be a good omen for my soon to be new home base.

The next day I went to a birthday party for a cheerful, wubbulous little boy. His friends are all other little bubbies just about the same age, and what could be more awesome than a roomful of happy laughing babies (none of which I am directly responsible for)? His mom constructed a clever caterpillar cake made out of cupcakes, one of which he demolished all by himself. Why do we spend so much on hair product when icing works just fine?

And the next morning after that, it came time for my last goodbyes. Mom and Robert whisked me to the airport. I will miss Pittsburgh, and all of the familiar America that I'm leaving behind. So it's goodbye, for now.