Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A children's RE resource

Are you familiar with the picture books Hattie and the Fox, Where is the green sheep? and Possum Magic?

As well as being a talented story-teller, their author Mem Fox is also an international consultant in literacy.

Her website has great resources about children's literacy as well as lots of interesting things about her books and writing.
Her ten read-aloud commandments are extremely helpful and sensible.
Mem is a wonderful, inspirational, advocate for reading and her website is well worth a look.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Where to find out about comics?

by Sean Murgatroyd

When responding to requests for purchase for the Graphic Novel collection, I often come across problems when the customer has requested a title that is out of print, hasn’t been printed yet or isn’t even available in English Language format.

Very often they are relying on the vast number of comics discussion forums where speculation and wishful thinking play as much a role as any real fact.

To sort out these issues, I visit the websites of the publishers themselves. I would recommend introducing them to any comics fans you’re helping. This will help them make informed decisions about their favourite characters and authors.

The big names are of course Marvel, which has a searchable catalogue and DC which provides a very helpful list of their graphic novels currently in publication.

Don’t forget Vertigo, DC’s very popular line of graphic novels for adults. A large part of our adult collection has been sourced from here.

Other notable names in the superhero publishing universe are Dark Horse, Image Comics and relative newcomer Dynamite Comics.

For adult readers looking for the more literary works, the Fantagraphics and Drawn and Quarterly (which publishes New Zealand’s own Dylan Horrocks) sites are well worth a look.

Lastly, the Japanese-originating manga world is a force that has had an increasing impact on the Western comics world. Weekly Shonen Jump magazine has been running in Japan since 1968, spawning many of the more famous comics lines. Viz Media publishes the English language versions of many of their titles. The other major English-language publisher of manga is Tokyopop.

As you can see there is a world of resources available in helping patrons with every comics preference. With many of the sites offering previews, informed choices are easy.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Newsletter no. 22

August 2010

I enjoy… editorial by Linda Hopkins*…reading a wide variety of fiction genres; Adventure/thriller, Mystery/thriller, some Fantasy (like Lord of the Rings), Chick Lit, Classics etc. As long as the book is engaging, fast paced and free flowing and the pre-amble captures my interest, I’ll read it. The perks of working on the check-in desk, all those newly returned books are a constant temptation!
I find I usually gravitate towards the adventure/thriller/mystery type books when I want some escapism. I do love intriguing and engrossing novels. My early favourite authors were Hammond Innes, Nevil Shute and Alistair MacLean. Their novels were my first taste of the adventure genre. I used to love reading these as a teenager and remember hiding under the bedclothes with a torch long after I should have been asleep!
Moving forward to the current years, authors that have captured my attention are Rosamund Pilcher (a gentler adventure, well crafted characters), Ted Allbeury and Geoffrey Archer, but my favourite author in the Adventure genre is John J Nance. Given his qualifications [as an airline pilot, lawyer, novelist] his books are action packed and have an air of authenticity and authority about them. Some of his books have been turned into TV mini-series’.
On the Mystery/thriller side, I began my interest here with the Readers Digest True Crime stories. These were the only books that interested me (and I was allowed to read) in my grandfather’s bookshelves on school holiday visits and I would devour them. Since then I have “matured” and enjoyed the earlier Sue Grafton “alphabet” novels, Patricia Cornwell and her Kay Scarpetta Mysteries, Lisa Scottoline (believable characters with a touch of humour), Iris Johansen (with forensic sculptor Eve Duncan), Kathy Reichs (Bones TV series is based on her books), Tess Gerritsen, Catherine Coulter’s FBI novels and JD Robb among many others.

* Linda is Specialist Librarian – Information Services at Devonport Library.

Best Reads…..
This month’s selection is from Vanessa Seymour.

Ordinary thunderstorms by William Boyd

The odd woman by Gail Godwin

Theodora : actress, empress, whore by Stella Duffy

The night book by Charlotte Grimshaw

Corduroy mansions by Alexander McCall Smith

Lola by Elizabeth Smither

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


by Patricia Kay

Word of mouth is the most effective way of passing on to other people suggestions for and recommendations of books to read. That is why the BookChat sessions running in our libraries are so successful. Participants are multi-tasking; getting ready to add their bit to the discussion, listening to what others are saying and jotting down titles and authors mentioned for follow up. At our desks we notice an increase in requests when books have been favourably reviewed on the radio. The Good Word show on TV7 brought books to a television audience and now we have the Youtube version - video book reviews.
A new initiative from Martin Taylor, NZ internet guru, records and disseminates booktalks by three well-known, well-read and personable local booksellers. In a 3 minute video clip they give a sense of the story, a quick run down on the main characters and some reasons why that book is such a good read. The videos are available to everyone from the website BookTV, from Youtube and soon from The Reading Experience section of our very own website.
Here is an example

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Newsletter no. 21

July 2010

Animals in war… editorial by Hantie Braybrook*
War programmes are not usually my cup of tea but I plucked up the courage to watch the repeat broadcasting of Band of Brothers and from there The Pacific and now the Generation Kill series. Though it was difficult to watch at times - I still haven’t been able to pick up a book about personal war experiences or combat situations. What I have been able to read is stories about animals in war situations. Even in stories (real and fiction) animals seems to break past that wall of dread and fear and engage our emotions with their openness, loyalty and bravery. Dogs feature prominently in this kind of literature.
What is the appeal of this genre?
The strong bonds people form with animals are deeply emotional and are often a central theme in these stories. And then there is the animal’s unconditional love, non-judgemental acceptance, loyalty, bravery and protection beyond reason, comforting, giving their caretakers a reason to live for / hang on in desperate situations, respect earned and given.
The unknown outcome of everyone entering the war zone adds to the intensity. You experience the ‘adventure’, get to know about life during times of war– both those of soldiers and civilians. The personality of the animals and the mischief they and their companions get up to add charm to what could otherwise be a harrowing tale. Happy endings, when it happens, are especially satisfying. What is also fascinating is how the animals are trained and how they perform under the intense pressure of combat situations.

The subtitle on the cover of
The dog that saved my life sums it up: ‘Sacrifice. Loyalty. Love beyond all bounds.’ Those are the qualities that bring me back to this genre time and again.Dogs at war by Blythe Hamer; The four legged major by Graham Spencer;Caesar the Anzac dog by Patricia Stroud; From Baghdad with love by Jay Kopelman; Nubs by Brian Dennis et al;Freedom in the air by Hamish Ross; Silent heroes by Evelyn le Chene; Animal heroes by Anthony Hill.

* Hantie is Specialist Librarian – Information Services at Glenfield Library.

Best Reads…..
This month’s selection is from Patricia Kay.

As the earth turns silver : a novel by Alison Wong

The children's book by A. S. Byatt

Good to a fault by Marina Endicott

The elegance of the hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

The housekeeper and the professor by Yoko Ogawa

An equal stillness by Francesca Kay

In hovering flight by Joyce Hinnefeld

Share your best reads … just send a list of titles to Ann

Monday, July 12, 2010

Children's author website

Kathy White, children's author and until recently the CATS Librarian at Devonport Library, has launched her brand new website. It has lots of information about Kathy and her writing and also has a very good page of links to webpages about writers and books., especially suitable for children and teens.
Have a look!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Newsletter no. 20

June 2010
Something our customers will love…..
If you haven’t already found this on the Reading Experience page of our website, then you definitely need to take a look.
By clicking on
fiction you will find lists have been compiled for the browsing reader. Thanks to Sarah Menzies – whose brainchild this was, we have a great resource for the reader, and a great reader’s advisory resource for us as a starting point for recommendations.
The beauty of these lists and links is that the browser can see the catalogue record, read a summary, read a review and most importantly, request the book …all from one site – fantastic!
Now it’s up to us to make sure our customers know about it…

This month’s editorial is by Sheryl Day* …..

In my role I take responsibility for the services provided by the Area Office as well as being part of the library team. Over the years I have built up knowledge of local government procedures and am able to provide customers with information on a wide range of services. If I do not know the answer then I will try to put the customer in touch with someone who does -customer service and the provision of information – skills that are also a large part of a librarian’s job. Communication, excellent service and follow up are keywords in both positions. Customers are not always happy with the council – taking payments is another part of the job - a smile and friendly greeting can often defuse a situation.
I am also responsible for displays showcasing different areas of the collection, encouraging readers to try something different – maybe non-fiction for a change or perhaps a new author in their preferred genre. My own reading is eclectic but my preference is for the red dots – the REAL red dots – a good psychological thriller with plenty of twists Jeffrey Deaver ,Michael Connelly , Lee Child, Tami Hoag, Linwood Barclay, Cody McFadyen and so many others, and this week, joy!.. A new writer, Noah Boyd . I think the reading experience should be a relaxed, enjoyable indulgence – time out for one’s self.
Now enough about me – this is cutting into my precious reading time!

* Sheryl is Council Services Librarian at Albany Village

Best Reads…..
This month’s selection is from Megan Grimshaw-Jones.

On Green Dolphin Street by Sebastian Faulks

Mao's last dancer by Li Cunxin

Brooklyn : a novel by Colm Tóibín

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

American wife : a novel by Curtis Sittenfeld

The winner's bible : rewire your brain for permanent change by Kerry Spackman

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Who writes like

We are all familiar with the great resource Who else writes like.
Wellington City Libraries have a webpage with this information featuring some of the more popular fiction authors. It's called Who writes like... and is a good quick link to help our patrons select their next book.
Have a look!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Newsletter No. 19

May 2010
You just never know what gems you will hear ….
While making reading recommendations to a customer, a staff member acknowledged the customer’s husband standing nearby and a conversation started up. During the course of that conversation the husband asked “do you read Grahame Greene?” “Not for many years” replied the staff member. “Well” he continued… and it transpired that he once worked for Graham Greene for about 5 years on his estate as painter and decorator, during the course of which he witnessed a clandestine affair being conducted between Graham Greene and Anita Ekberg! And apparently Mrs Greene was a very snooty lady – well who can blame her!
The Reading Experience can have many benefits… Don’t you just love working in a library?
Creating the WOW! for Children and Teens…

By now you will have all attended The Reading Experience workshops developed and delivered by the CaT’s team and from the feedback given at each session, they were an overwhelming success. Congratulations to the team and Karen for putting together and running such a great workshop. Now the real enjoyment can begin.
You will all be completing the exercises and getting out in the children’s area, putting your new found knowledge and confidence to good use to both spread the joy of reading and enhance the library experience for our customers. Congratulations and “good on you” to all those staff who have already taken up the challenge to deliver Rhymetime and Wriggle and Rhyme. However, for those of you a little less brave, being in the children’s area talking to the kids and showing your enthusiasm is just as important.
As a reminder of the sort of fun author websites you can find in “Dive into Reading” – check out Brian Falkner’s…

Best Reads…..

In keeping with our focus on children and teens, this month’s best teen reads are from Helen at East Coast Bays.

Nation by Terry Pratchett

Alchemy and Meggy Swann by Karen Cushman

Fever Crumb by Philip Reeve

The evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
Impossible : a novel by Nancy Werlin

Friday, April 30, 2010

Newsletter no. 18

April 2010

A true story ….
NSL staff member (X) tells of helping a customer choose a book to read and the customer commenting that she and X obviously enjoy the same sort of books, as the customer had enjoyed something X had recommended once before. X doesn’t remember recommending something to the customer, or even having helped her before, but nevertheless the customer remembered her and came back.
This is a good illustration of the affect we have on our customer relationships – Whether we remember them or not, the customer will remember – good or bad. This customer now has a familiar friendly face to approach, a good experience to take away and a good source of reading that she knows she is likely to enjoy.
This is The Reading Experience in action!

This month’s guest editorial is by Patricia Kay*……
I love attending book festivals to listen to authors and meet other readers. There is always a buzz at such events with people talking non-stop about books. The best list of festivals is in Wikipedia and the best festival sites include biographies, reviews, forums, blogs and sometimes even ezines and podcasts. A quick browse through any of the following sites will furnish you with plenty of ideas for book recommendations:
Hay on Wye, UK
Hong Kong
New York
You can read about my experiences at the Wellington Writers and readers Week on my blog, 'Happy Reading'.
The Auckland Readers and Writers Festival is held annually in May and begins this year on Wednesday 12 May with public events held at the Aotea Centre from Friday 14 to Sunday 16 May. See the printed programme in your Library or visit the website. To feel the atmosphere you can just pop into the Aotea Centre over that weekend and visit the bookstall – you are bound to see some of New Zealand’s top literary figures and there will be international authors signing copies of their books as well. Inspiring!
* Patricia is Specialist Librarian – Information Services at ECB Library

Best Reads…..
This month’s Best Reads are from Beth at Library Support Services.

Home Safe : A Novel by Elizabeth Berg

The women in black by Madeleine St John

As it is in heaven by Niall Williams

Ten sorry tales by Mick Jackson

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Reading Experience for Children and Teens

The Reading Experience for Children and Teens is a workshop which looks at the reading experience through the eyes of children and teens and how we, as librarians, can make a difference to every child's reading experience.

It follows on from last year's The Reading Experience workshops which focussed on the adult areas of the library.

This workshop will give you:

  • An appreciation for working with children and teens in the library - yes, it can be FUN and extremely rewarding!

  • Some knowledge and skills to feel more confident when helping parents / children / teens with their reading queries or promoting books.

  • a greater awareness of the role of the Children's Librarian and the services we offer.
They will run from 20 April - 27 May. Staff will be rostered onto sessions and dates advised by your Managers. A reminder email will be sent a few days before the session.
One of the followup exercises for this workshop is to visit this blog and leave a comment about one thing you learnt from the session. So ... if that's what you are here for ... please leave your comments in the comment box below.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Newsletter no. 17

March 2010

A great idea for promoting your love of reading – and it’s easy!….

Using the signature function of Outlook is a great way of emphasising our role as librarians and our own love of reading, by passing on to other people the title of the book you are currently enjoying. A great way to spread the word not only amongst ourselves, but out into the world as well as we email colleagues, business contacts, friends and family. This can be done as text or as a hyperlink to a book record or web page. Your IS Librarian or Gemma will be able to show you how if you need help. Email Eileen to receive a reply with an example signature.

This month’s guest editorial is by Bernice Sell*……I have a fondness for novels that can be classified as magical realism, since those that I have read have managed to be literary but very readable.
Magical realism is a literary type or form rather than a specific genre. A magical realism novel requires the reader to assume an equal acceptance of both the ordinary and the extraordinary as the distinction between fantasy and reality is blurred. The stories often contain elements of myth, fable or folktale. It differs from fantasy writing though as events take place in the real world, not a fantasy setting.
Magical realism has its roots in South American literature and anyone wishing to sample it could try any of the short story collections of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, or his seminal magical realism work, One Hundred Years of Solitude.
A short list of the best known magical realist works can be found on the Book Lust website:

As usual, LibraryThing comes up trumps with a very comprehensive list found in its tag search:,+novel

For a bite-sized overview try Oprah’s book Club:

Excellent magic realism novels for young adults include David Almond’s Secret Heart, and Isabel Allende’s City of the Beasts.
* Bernice is Specialist Librarian – Community Learning at Glenfield Library

Best Reads…..
This month’s Best Reads have been provided by Jan at Albany Village…….

Life according to Lubka by Laurie Graham

The women in black by Madeleine St John

The horse dancer by Jojo Moyes

Aphrodite's workshop for reluctant lovers by Marika Cobbold

The hours of the night by Sue Gee

All together now by Monica McInerney

All the nice girls by Joan Bakewell

Bad behaviour by Liz Byrski

The behaviour of moths by Poppy Adams

A seaside practice : tales of a Scottish country doctor by Tom Smith

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Newsletter no. 16

February 2010

Downloadable audio (Overdrive) is almost here...!
We are very close to offering this new service to our customers. Overdrive provides the infrastructure and applications to support the down loading of audio books on to a variety of devices - PC, Ipod, MP3 etc. at home. Yes, you will be taken through it very soon after it becomes available, so that you will be able to promote it to our customers. For a preview of how it works visit Auckland City Libraries and click on “quick start guide” to scroll through and find out what it’s all about. For further information you can also explore the Overdrive website. You will hear more about this fabulous new service soon.

This month’s guest editorial is by Helen Beckingsale*……

For the last 10 years Storylines has followed up the New Zealand Post shortlist with a Notable Books List intended to take the place of a “long-list” as produced for some overseas book awards.
The Notable Books list also gives an opportunity to make special mention of books which are not eligible for awards but are an exceptional addition to our national children’s book heritage. These include Margaret Mahy’s Bubble Trouble in new picture format in 2009 and A.H. Reed’s re-illustrated Illustrated Myths and Legends of the Pacific in 2008.
The Word Witch, the beautifully illustrated collection of Margaret Mahy’s poetry, will fall into that category in 2010.
So, when you can’t find any of the New Zealand Post short-listed titles take a look at the Notable Books List and encourage young readers to look more widely at our great New Zealand children’s authors. If you must have an actual award winner or short-listed title go to:

· Helen is Specialist Librarian – Children’s and Teens Services at ECB Library and is a member of the Management Committee of Storylines.

Best Reads…..

This month’s Best Reads have been provided by Sheryl at Albany Village…….
The Love of Her Life by Evans, Harriet
Bridge of Sand : A Novel by Burroway, Janet
The Cellist of Sarajevo by Galloway, Steven
The Husband by Koontz, Dean

Very Valentine by Trigiani, Adriana

The Help by Stockett, Kathryn
Constance by Thomas, Rosie

Assassin by Cain, Tom
A Reliable Wife by Goolrick, Robert
Don’t forget to email your “Best Reads” to Ann Hill so they can be shared with us all.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Newsletter no. 15

Newsletter no. 15
January 2010

Welcome to a new year of wonderful reading experiences

Guest editorial…
From time to time a member of staff will be invited to provide a guest editorial about their area of expertise. You never know when you may be invited!

Our first guest is Sean Murgatroyd*:While North Shore Libraries have had graphic novels for children and teens for some time, we have recently opened a great new collection for adults of this material! Graphic novels have come a long way from the superhero comics of years gone by and now cover a vast range of topics – from intimate, moving personal biographies such as Marjane Satrapi’s “Persepolis” to compelling artistic works like Joann Sfar’s “The Rabbi’s Cat”. The more you investigate this fascinating world the more you will find there is something for all tastes. For a great collection of constantly updating reviews, visit the Graphics Novel Reporter.

*Sean is Specialist Librarian – Information Services at Northcote Library.

Best Reads 2009…

What were your best reads for 2009? Send a list of your most memorable reads to Ann Hill
and they will be shared over the next few newsletters. Here are a few that I would consider some of my Best Reads for the year in no particular order and for a variety of reasons:

City of Refuge by Piazza, Tom

The Piano Teacher by Lee, Janice

The Hour I First Believed by Lamb, Wally

The Color of Lightning by Jiles, Paulette

Burnt Shadows by Shamsie, Kamila

Baking Cakes in Kigali by Parkin, Gaile

The Help by Stockett, Kathryn

The Voluptuous Delights of Peanut Butter and Jam by Liebenberg, Lauren

Cutting for Stone by Verghese, Abraham

A Quiet Belief in Angels by Ellory, R. J.

Towelhead : A Novel by Erian, Alicia

The Lieutenant by Grenville, Kate

This Is Where I Leave You by Tropper, Jonathan

Hiroshima Joe : A Novel by Booth, Martin

Spooner by Dexter, Pete

The Personal History of Rachel Dupree by Weisgarber, Ann

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Newsletter number 14

A picture is worth a thousand words......

Have a great Christmas and enjoy summer in our paradise by the sea – here are some recommended booklists* for sourcing the necessary supplies…

From Booksellers New Zealand this is the year’s bestseller list compiled from sales figures

The NZ Listener for Dec 12 – 18 includes 16 pages of books of the year. Read it in the Library or wait until 26 December for the online version at

The New York Times offers a list of the 10 best books of the year and a list of 100 notable books of 2009

The Times of London also provides two lists; the fifty best paperbacks of the year and the 100 best books of the decade

*Links courtesy of Patricia - ECB Info news.
Reader photo from Flickr.