Thursday, November 4, 2010

November 5th - Day Thirteen - Community Library Tour

Practicum Day 13
site: Birkenhead, Leys, Onehunga, Mt Roskill community libraries
hours worked: 7
hours to date: 79

If it's snowing where you are reading this, then you may want to skip the next paragraph

The Auckland Libraries will be starting summer reading very soon! The title of the program is Hot Summer, Cool Books which will build on the theme of kiwiana (all things New Zealand Aotearoa). The idea is to get kids enjoying reading and to use staff time to engage children in discussion rather than metrics. There are no registrations or check-ins, but there are three tic-tac-toe boards that have activities on them that can be stamped when completed. For instance, there are boxes for "I read a..." and "I read to..." and "I drew a picture...". The cards are directed to younger children, older children, and parents. Each completed card can be submitted for a drawing to win tickets to a place to have a fun experience, like the zoo. Each time a stamp is issued, a sticker is also given that can be put anywhere on the child's rainbow-adorned reading certificate.

With the prototype documents in hand Julianna, Lin and I spent the day visiting several branches. We started at Birkenhead, part of the North Shore libraries. This was the first branch I had visited, and it happens to be in another council (but now part of the new large regional system). Not quite a year old, the award winning architecture presented a very bright, airy and natural feeling using interior light colored wood and brick. The ceiling was visible from the first floor because the second floor was only partially built out. From the second floor you could see beautiful views of the city through a strip of perfectly placed windows set among cutout work that resembled tree branches.
There was also ample space alloted for the Citizen's Advice Bureau, a NON-governmental service that is "somewhere people could go to learn about their rights and obligations and also how to use this information to good effect to get the best outcomes. " The trained volunteer staff helps anyone with tenancy, employment, money, or legal issues that arise. For free. I think this sort of community focused, information based service would be successful in any American library. (The CAB is another area tended to by the Community Outreach team at City center). In addition to this, the library provides space for Plunket services, which is the largest community resource for children's health and well-being under the age of 5. It provides health information and reference similar to the CAB for legal issues. It seems such a perfect match to offer these types of services in a public library.

Our next stop was to the oldest library in continuous operation in Auckland. The Leys Institute was built in 1905 as a place of learning and discussion, and it was also the site of the first children's library in Australasia! The building has some very old parts to it inlcuding a wall in the basement where every visiting author has signed. It's very full. The architecture of the building has so much character and the community uses the location heavily. The storytimes are crowded to capacity and among the discussions there are strategies to handle attendance that exceeds the health and safety requirements for the rooms.

children's room at Ley's Institute
Further down the road we came to Onehunga which has extraordinarily high borrowing rates, exceeding the rest of the branches in a recent adult reading program by some 400 entires. The users of the branch are also interested in community events and especially local history. The library offers a storytime, entirely in Chinese, every fortnight. Another special feature is the way the library shares space with the Onehunga community center, which offers art, fitness and sports classes. All of these things makes the library very well attended.

Finally we came to Mt. Roskill which is the largest of the community libraries. They have a high teen patron attendance and have started a number of successful programs to engage them. The most successful teen programs seem to be ones where teens are presenting to themselves. For instance, a recent program had a teen who was a successful cartoonist present a program about drawing cartoons to her peers. Having teens present to peers seems like a model worth exploring because often popular topics have more to do with friendships than the topics themselves. Another observation of note is that the Chinese collection and Maori collection are both as beefed up as the teen collection at this branch. However, similar to City Center, the Chinese collection circulates much more frequently and the Maori collection tends to be underused.

in the staff room:
hot chocolates today: 1
hot chocolates to date: 18

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