Wellington City Libraries

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Support Local: New Zealand Music Month 2021

It’s May 2021, which means that New Zealand Music Month | Te Marama Puoro o Aotearoa is upon us once again. We like music here on the Teen Blog, so we thought we’d share with you some of the cool stuff you can see, hear, or do to mark the occasion.

Album art for the following albums by Wellington artists: Kugels, Raven Mavens, Estere, Stalker, Flowz, David Harrow, Ariana Tikao, Spook the Horses, Julie Lamb, Phoenix Foundation, Neil Johnstone, and more.

A festive panoply of recent additions to our collection of Wellington music.

Find local music at the library

The theme of NZMM21 is simple: ‘Support Local. Stream Local. Follow Local. Buy Local.’ I’m not sure if there’s some kind of subliminal messaging at play here, but I think it’s possible that the kind folks at the New Zealand Music Commission are encouraging us to check out local artists. This is a message we at Wellington City Libraries wholeheartedly support. Our Customer Specialist for Music and Film, Mark, runs the Wellington Music blog and Facebook page, and if what you’re after is a constant stream of local Wellington content — interviews, videos and performancesanecdotes, new releases and more — well, he definitely has you covered. Check out his exhaustive Artist Directory for lists of literally hundreds of Wellington musicians and bands going back to the 1940s, complete with links to their material. It’s the best place you could start if you’re wanting to explore the music of this place.

On the off-chance that you are the kind of person who still likes to bust out the odd CD or vinyl record and give it a spin, we actually have a massive collection of both, at our Te Awe branch on Brandon Street, and Te Pātaka, our Collection Distribution Centre in Johnsonville. Use the Artist Directory to search by artist/composer/band, or browse the whole gosh darn collection at once:

If you’re into classical music or jazz, we have a bunch of awesome resources for you to check out — from the score and songbook collection and classical and jazz CD collections (including the music of prominent New Zealand composers like John Psathas and Gillian Whitehead), to the truly massive and amazing online repositories of the Naxos Classical and Naxos Jazz Libraries — free with your library card.

Make music with the library

If you want to make music of your own but don’t have the means, you can actually borrow audio equipment like mics, PAs, field recorders, even the legendary Synthstrom Deluge synthesiser/sequencer/sampler/marvel of engineering from the library. It’s super easy — just pop your details in the form, tell us what you want and when you need it, and we’ll make it happen. One of our librarians will even sit down with you and show you how it all works if you need.

If the home studio isn’t quite the vibe you’re going for, you could also use our free recording studio at Tūhura/The HIVE at Johnsonville Library. For up to two hours at a time, you can have free use of the studio and all its gear to do whatever you want — record, jam, noodle, rehearse, whatever you need. Because the space is heavily used, bookings are essential — email johnsonville.library@wcc.govt.nz to book your spot. Here’re the specs on the studio software and hardware available to you:

  • Software: Logic Pro X, Garage Band, Da Vinci Resolve, Final Cut Pro X
  • Audio Interface: Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 Gen3
  • Microphones: Rode NT-1a, Shure SM57, Shure SM58, AKG P170
  • Audio Monitors: Mackie CR4BT 4″ Multimedia Monitors
  • Control Surface: Korg nanoKONTROL Studio
  • MIDI Keyboard: Icon Pro Audio iKeyboard 8Nano
  • Electric Drums: Alesis Nitro Mesh 8-Piece kit
  • Electric Guitar: Squier Bullet Mustang
  • Guitar amp: Marshall CODE50
  • Bass Guitar: ESP LTD B10

Gig guide

While our librarians have a well-documented propensity for being musical performers themselves, we also accept that there might be some cool stuff happening outside the library too. Thankfully, the excellent people behind NZMM21 have put together this fabulous calendar of live gigs for your edification and enjoyment. Make sure to visit their website for the full picture.

There will be more to come on New Zealand Music Month-related goodness in and around our libraries, but until then, remember: Support Local. Stream Local. Follow Local. Buy Local. Local is where all the best stuff is, anyway.

Why the Oxford English Dictionary is actually super cool

Let me introduce you to the wonder that is the Oxford English Dictionary Online. And I mean that! The OED online really is a thing of wonder, a remarkable resource, a superb site, and you have full access to it through us here at Wellington City Libraries!

To get into the OED online, just go to the eLibrary tab at the top of our website, select ‘By name’, then look under ‘O’ for ‘Oxford’. Or you could just click here.

Now you’re in, but maybe you’re not sure how it works. Luckily, that’s what I’m here for.

One of the simplest uses for the OED online is to look up a word you don’t know how to pronounce.

You know how it is, you’re reading a book, you learn a new word, you’ve never heard it said aloud, and English can be an awful language for guessing the proper pronunciation. How are you meant to know how it’s said?

Ah, how could I forget the hilarity that ensued when one of my friends foolishly and confidently and in front of me mispronounced the word ‘entrepreneurs’. She said ‘on-tray-pruners’, I laughed, and I have never forgotten it. But you can avoid such foolishness by going to the OED, searching this new addition to your vocabulary, and listening to the handy recording the OED provides for every word. See, here’s the entry for ‘entrepreneur’, with several handy blue play buttons that you can click on to listen to and never embarrass yourself with foolish pronunciation again!

Screenshot of the OED entry for Entrepreneur. It reads: Title: entrepreneur, n. Then pronunciation each with an IPA transcription and blue play button for each different pronunciaiton.Origin: a borrowing from French. Etymology" French entrepreneur person who owns a business.

Another really rad thing about the OED online is all the historical and etymological information they provide. If you’re a word nerd or just like knowing cool facts about cool stuff it can be fascinating to read through the entries and discover how meanings have changed over the years.

Did-you-know-for-example that the work ‘lemony’ used to have another meaning in NZ slang? See, it’s all written here with several examples of this older usage:

Screenshot of a dictionary entry. Text reads b. Australian and New Zealand slang. Irritated, angry, esp. in to go lemony at: to become angry with (someone).

If, like me, you ever find yourself in ferocious debate with your friends over the meaning, etymology, or older spelling of a word then this is the place to go to get your proof. And hopefully your friend won’t go lemony at you when you prove them wrong!

There are other cool things to explore too, such as this interactive explanation of how a word enters the OED, or you can discover which words are the same age as you, or even submit your own word!

You can search for certain words, or browse by the date a word was added, or search for words that originated in a certain location, or look through all the sources the OED uses for historical evidence of what words used to mean. If you think any of this could be useful for a project at school then they do have a page with a bit more information on it for you.

If not for the OED online I would never have been looking through quotations from my old favourite Beowulf and I would never have discovered that Beowulf has the first recorded evidence of the word ‘blonk’! A blonk is, of course, one of those four-legged animals that goes ‘neigh’. Now, alas, this word is obsolete and we use another word to refer to this animal. But ‘elf’ was also first used in Beowulf, and we still use that word!

Anyway, I hope I’ve managed to get you even just a little bit excited in the Oxford English Dictionary Online. Now you have all you need to go and learn all about archaic meanings, obsolete words, and much more!

New LGBTIQ+ Teen Reads on OverDrive

Look, I get it. Sometimes you just need someone to tell you what books to read. I understand that! There’s a lot of books out there — entirely too many to count — so the intrepid librarians behind our illustrious eBook collection on OverDrive and Libby have undertaken to sort these books into comprehensive, yet easily-digestible lists for your convenience. One such list in the Teen Reading Room is the LGBTIQ+ Teen Reads list, which has recently doubled in size thanks to the efforts of our mystical and talented library gremlins! Make sure to keep checking in as new lists are being worked on all the time.

LGBTIQ+ Teen Reads

This list pulls together a veritable panoply of the best of the best in LGBTIQ+ authors and titles for young adults — that’s you! Here are some of my current faves from this selection:

Overdrive cover We Contain Multitudes, Sarah Henstra (Audiobook)

This beautiful book, told as an epistolary story (through letters and diary entries) is a classic oppposites-attract romance set in a Minnesota high school. You may have to suspend your disbelief a little at the premise of this story (letter-writing pen pals in high school? In 2019? Sure, Jan), but give it some time. The characters are deftly drawn, the storytelling by turns cerebral and intensely emotional, and the language absolutely to die for. Plus it was my sister’s favourite read of 2019. Give it a whirl!

Overdrive cover Lizard Radio, Pat Schmatz (ebook)

I totally dig this oddball dystopian coming-of-age novel (with lizard-people aliens!) wrapped in layers of mysticism, cyber-tech, and explorations of gender identity. Kivali is a “bender,” a young person who doesn’t conform to the extremely rigid gender culture of the all-powerful Gov’s future society, sent to mandatory rewiring in a gruelling CropCamp with other nonconforming teens. From all quarters, Kivali is faced with the question — who are you? — a question she refuses to take at face value, and challenges in different ways throughout the book. A must-read for nonbinary teens everywhere!

Overdrive cover My Fairy Godmother is a Drag Queen, David Clawson (ebook)

This book is a super sweet modern fairytale — a kind of Cinderella for the modern sensibility. It has its moments of darkness, sure, and like many of the mainstays of queer literature some of its musings on issues of sexuality, family, money and stability, and self-doubt will hit home a little too squarely for some. But where My Fairy Godmother is a Drag Queen really shines, for me, is in its lighter moments — how a random encounter with a drag queen can sweep joy into your world; how getting swept off your feet by sudden, unexpected romance can feel easier and lighter than breathing. This book is a celebration of all things glitter and warmth, and it invites you to the party every time.

Overdrive cover The Full Spectrum, David Levithan (ebook)

This is a Very Cool and Most Timely collection of poems, essays, and stories written by young adults and teens from across the LGBTQIA+ spectrum. The writings cover a massive range of topics — coming out, dealing with family (supportive and not so much), navigating friendships that suddenly seem to have taken on a new dynamic, questions of faith and identity, and much more. Plus it’s all been pulled together by none other than the legendary David Levithan, and rad queer poet Billy Merrell, whose 2017 novel Vanilla is also a Must Read for fans of poetry and queerness.

Overdrive cover You Asked for Perfect, Laura Silverman (ebook)

Ya okay so this book is just painfully, beautifully relatable on so many levels. Perfectionist attitude towards school keeping you down in terms of life? Check. So worried about the future that you’re losing your grip on what’s happening right now? Check. Queer and stressed? Yep, that’s one big ol’ checkeroon. But don’t worry friends, all is not lost, because books like this are here to save the day! As the wonderful Bill Konigsberg puts it in his back-cover review, “[the book] hit me straight in the heart.”

Overdrive cover Finding Nevo, Nevo Zisin (ebook)

This powerful autobiography should be a required read for anybody to whom questions of identity are important. I can’t put it any better than the OverDrive description, so let me quote from it: “Meet Nevo: girl, boy, he she, him, her, they, them, daughter, son, teacher, student, friend, gay, bisexual, lesbian, transgender, homosexual, Jew, dyke, masculine, feminine, androgynous, queer. Nevo was not born in the wrong body. Nevo just wants everyone to catch up with all that Nevo is.” Read it now!

Overdrive cover The Rest of Us Just Live Here, Patrick Ness (ebook)

Patrick Ness’s trademark poetic and slightly oblique style is really brought to bear in this sci-fi deconstruction to end all sci-fi deconstructions. What if something remarkable and improbable is happening in your town (dark and mystical forces colliding; people’s family members disappearing in the woods; extra-terrestrial beings descending from the Great Beyond to wreak terror and destruction, only to be stopped at the last minute by an ordinary teen who just happens to be the only one with the power to stand up to what may or may not be the gods of old made manifest in this realm), but you’re not the Chosen One? You’re just a background character (in most books like this, you’d be among the first to go, possibly before we even got to hear your tragic backstory) and you’d really like it to stay that way. You’re not trying to save the world, you’re just trying to make it through the day without embarrassing yourself too much. This book’s queerness is part of its fabric without being the main focus — you should read it anyway, because it’s Just That Good, Folks.

Overdrive cover The Falling in Love Montage, Ciara Smyth (ebook)

This novel balances tongue-in-cheek witticisms with clear-eyed sincerity in an absolutely gorgeous way. Saoirse, 17, dealing with many issues in her life beyond her recent breakup with her ex, Hannah, meets Ruby, one of the most instantly loveable characters of any in books on this list. Ruby believes in true love, you see, and invites Saoirse to make a rom-com out of their lives together, complete with long, meaningful glances on Ferris wheels, ‘spontaneous’ skinny dipping late at night, and yes, a falling-in-love-montage just like in the movies. Not that the book is all bubbles and soft lens filters, but definitely one to curl up with under the covers, wearing out your face from all the smiling.

Overdrive cover Rainbow Revolutionaries, Sarah Prager (ebook)

The LGBTIQ+ Teen Reads curated list doesn’t just include fiction, but a great amount of nonfiction as well. This is a compelling collection of autobiographies covering the lives and times of 50 very rad and very revolutionary queer people spanning continents and centuries, who have left some indelible mark on culture, society, and what-it-means-to-be-queer-ness at some point in their lives. The people discussed range from the super well-known (the Frida Kahlos, Alan Turings, and Harvey Milks of this world) to the less well-known, at least in Western pop culture (Maryam Molkara, Nzinga, Al-Hakam II, and Tshepo Ricki Kgositau, to name a few), all  accompanied by Sarah Papworth’s striking and energising art and Sarah Prager’s concise and, at times, searing descriptions. 

Overdrive cover Are You Listening?, Tillie Walden (ebook)

I had to end this selection with one of my absolute favourite reads in recent months — Tillie Walden’s atmospheric, surreal, breathtaking ride of a graphic novel in Are You Listening? I don’t want to spoil too much of the story, but prepare yourself for a real emotional rollercoaster, and one of the most arresting and most genuine depictions of a moment of real human connection that I can remember seeing in a book (or anywhere else, for that matter). I read this one in a single sitting, oblivious to the world around me, and to be honest I can’t imagine anyone putting it down before the end. Do yourself a favour and pick this one up as soon as you can — you definitely won’t regret it.

Information Literacy and You: Part 3

Using trusted sites and books

The trick for information literacy skills from Gandalf is to keep reading, reading and reading.

And the follow-up skill for reading, is searching, searching and searching. Knowing how to do an information search is critical for accessing and disseminating the appropriate information. Having information needs, i.e. finding out who is in that music video you’re covering for a Music studies report or finding that one massive reference to use in your History essay can make the difference in your exams and assessments. It also helps you discover awesome things when you’re surfing the net or getting books out of the library. There are various reference collections for important areas of knowledge such as the Māori reference and loan collection, or the standard hard-copy dictionary or thesaurus, maps and atlases collection. Not all library’s have extensive access. but they are spread out over the branch’s for you to use.

the follow-up skill for reading, is searching, searching and searching

Doing Google searches for instance in a reference-style, is a great starting way of looking for sources and information. Using the Library catalogue is another search engine function where you can group together keywords, such as relevant subjects or authors you want to explore about. These searches will bring up a list of results, and then with the short blurbs displayed will give you an idea as to the relevancy of the material being resulted. The same principle is used to sort out Google search results and other search engines, such as those within the history archive Recollect from the library website.

The library has several services that you can use to gain reliable information, all with your library card! Just log into the eLibrary section of the Wellington City Library website and scroll down to More Resources, where you will find the section entitled Rauemi ā-ipurangi (the My Gateway online resources https://wcl.govt.nz/mygateway/).

Image of the database frontpage, showcasing the various subjects that databases are to be found within.

The library’s many databases collection. Find the subjects you are interested in today!

There is also available the WCL Recollect platform (https://wellington.recollect.co.nz/), which helps you history buffs access a treasure trove of information, curated by the Library’s resident historian Gábor Tóth. Remember to apply your Info Literacy skills to the search results to further expand your knowledge, also remember if it doesn’t feel right then it probably isn’t. If it’s not relevant, then there’s no need to read it.

Image of the library's historical research database, Recollect.

Screenshot of the Recollect service offered by the library. Use this for historical research.

if it doesn’t feel right then it probably isn’t

Government-listed websites are also important sources of information, and can contain really useful information, such as on te taiao – the environment. Using places like DOC to find your information, it can make a difference to your understanding and the reports that you write. It also helps you to be a better Aotearoan.

Image of the Department of Conservation website, front page

Screenshot of the official Department of Conservation website.

So, now you have the skills to analyse greater amounts of knowledge specifically, and to withstand misinformation in its many guises. Don’t be fooled by the media and unlimited access to ‘information’, always read beyond the page and think critically about what is being said.

Information Literacy and You: Part 1

Image shows the wizard Gandalf with the text: Gandalf reads and so can you! The right books = Knowledge (and a little bit of magic)

Inspirational memes for hard-studying teens

Information literacy is a skill you need for work, when studying, or even knowing about the news of today’s world! It is super important to avoid information overload, and that is where your information sleuthing skills are put to the test. Information literacy is your passport to navigating the seas and air of information overload – and it’s a lifelong process.

Having the right book, with the right information – even if that challenges conventional thinking, is the ultimate goal of information literacy.

Even when we select material for the library’s collections, seemingly innocent titles can mean ‘fake news’ and misinformation can slip past us in the process. For instance we once had a title called Ancient Aliens, a companion book to the TV series of the same name. It sounds harmless but upon some thorough investigation, it turned out that the theories behind the programme and thus represented in the book were actually racist bylines.

That is something we do not endorse in the library, and neither should you. Having the right book, with the right information – even if that challenges conventional thinking, is the ultimate goal of information literacy. The skill of sifting through misinformation amidst the ages of digital media and ‘fake news’, is something to learn by and to continually develop. It takes time and patience, and a lot of reading about all types of knowledge.

That is where you come in. Your interests and passions can really help you wade through the information and get at the heart of an argument, and of knowledge. It’s that secret code of books which needs investigating and understanding, in order to interpret. It’s a skill that even Gandalf, and Hermione, know all too well (as something which J.K. should learn more about). You hold the key, it’s your enthusiasm for reading about all sorts of things which hones your skill of telling the difference between real news and fake news, and knowing the difference of knowledge from assumptions.


But what IS Information Literacy?

The American Libraries Association calls it three things:

  • Reflective discovery of information
  • Understanding of how information is produced and valued
  • Participation of creating new knowledge, ethically

Basically, it is differentiating good information from ‘bad’ information, unreliable, or ‘fake news’.

Information literacy is involving yourself in the research process. You put your reading skills to the test to see how you can interpret and then disseminate, the information you are after. Metacognition, the reflexive thought process (Livingston, 1997), is how we adapt what we see on print and online, to fit or delete from our understanding. We can decide what is a ‘truthful’ fact, and what is not, as well as determine…

What is ‘fake news’?

An attempt to mislead people, usually for financial or political gain, through the misrepresentation of media and information. An example of this would be tabloid/magazine stories that are completely made up to shock readers into reading them with flashy headlines (Colby-Sawyer College, 2020). There are also many reports of dubious ‘scientific researches’, often purporting to have the answers for some of life’s biggest questions. Much like the Ancient Aliens book already discussed, fake news can have malicious intent, bringing together popular prejudices under the guise of seemingly innocent titles.


Conspiracy Theories: News or just Fake News?

By reading lots you can imagine what is relevant information, what is conspiracy and somewhat questionable content, and what is information or ‘fake news’. What is important to note is the validfity of a source. For instance, getting your information from a government website is usually reliable, or from an independently established author. Always check their credentials though, someone from a university i.e. a lecturer, is probably more reliable than someone independent not from a university. Most historians have a PhD and a current posting at an institution, making it easier to rely on their fact-checking than someone who has neither of those qualities. This is because scholars have to back-up their evidence with citations, and this means trusting newspapers can be difficult.

Journalists do not need reference their work. Instead, they draw heavily from independent sources and witnesses, who often do not come with citations haha. Often journalists will fact-check by their editors before a story is published, but there is often an understanding that the journalists have secured reliable sources – which leads to misinformation because of public knowledge usage.

When writing for school or university, you can use print articles and newspapers as they are often reviewed before publication, but again, be wary of newspaper articles as there is less stringency on fact-checking than a peer-reviewed journal written by academic scholars.


Stuff to Read

Want to find out more about fake news, information literacy, and the post-truth era? Here are some nifty books from our collection that can get you on the path to critical thought without a hitch:

Fake news and alternative facts : information literacy in a post-truth era / Cooke, Nicole A
Information literacy is a key skill for all news consumers, and this Special Report shows how you can make a difference by learning skills and techniques to help you identify misinformation. Listen to a podcast with the author now! Talk of so-called fake news, what it is and what it isn’t, is front and center across the media landscape, with new calls for the public to acquire appropriate research and evaluation skills and become more information savvy. (Adapted from Catalogue)

Fake news : separating truth from fiction / Miller, Michael
While popularized by President Donald Trump, the term fake news actually originated toward the end of the 19th century, in an era of rampant yellow journalism. Since then, it has come to encompass a broad universe of news stories and marketing strategies ranging from outright lies, propaganda, and conspiracy theories to hoaxes, opinion pieces, and satire — all facilitated and manipulated by social media platforms. This title explores journalistic and fact-checking standards, Constitutional protections, and real-world case studies, helping readers identify the mechanics, perpetrators, motives, and psychology of fake news. (Adapted from Catalogue)

The broken estate : journalism and democracy in a post-truth world / Bunce, Melanie
It is easy to look at the extremity of post truth politics in the US and conclude that we must be doing something ok in New Zealand. But in many ways, the foundations of our media system are in worse shape. In the age of Trump, fake news and celebrity headlines, it is easy to despair about the future of journalism. The New Zealand and global media are in a state of crisis, the old economic models for print journalism are no longer viable, public funding has been neglected for decades, and the numbers of journalists employed by major news organisations are in freefall. In what she describes as both a critique and a love letter, [the author] discusses the state of journalism in New Zealand and the solutions needed to ensure its future. Her fresh analysis draws on the latest international research and interviews with leading journalists. (Adapted from Catalogue)

This book will (help you) change the World / Turton, Sue
Protest injustice. Campaign for change. Stand up for your future. Political turmoil, shocks and upsets have rocked the world in the past few years, and it has never been more important to find your voice and stand up for what you believe in. From award-winning journalist Sue Turton, with hilarious illustrations from activist illustrator Alice Skinner, this is a powerhouse guide to politics and activism for teens everywhere. […] Be it disrupting the system from within by joining political parties or inspiring change through protest, Turton shows young activists how their actions and words really can make a difference. With a toolkit demonstrating how to avoid fake news, triumph in debates and grab the spotlight for your campaign, this is the ultimate teen guide to changing the world. (Adapted from Catalogue)


References

Andretta, Susie (2005) “Information Literacy: A Practitioner’s Guide”. Chandos Publishing. UK

Colby-Sawyer College (2020) ‘What is Fake News?’. Cleveland Library. USA

Livingston, Jennifer (1997) Metacognition: An Overview. State University of New York at Buffalo. Graduate School of Education. USA

Fighting off the boredom with PapersPast

Are you really, incredibly, horrendously and hyperbolically bored? I know. Me too. Lockdown is still, absolutely, the right thing to be doing but that doesn’t mean it’s easy or fun or not boring.

This is just a teeny blog post but the resource I’m highlighting here can provide hours of interesting scrolling. There is a site called PapersPast that anyone can access for FREE and it is a digitised and readable form of hundreds of the newspapers and magazines from Aotearoa/New Zealand’s past. It’s a resource from the National Library of New Zealand and is a great example of how informative and interesting archival material can be.

This site is for you if:

  • You want to learn more about local history.
  • You’ve got really hooked on researching genealogy, what with ancestry.com being available from home at the moment and all!
  • You want to read newspapers but are, sensibly, limiting yourself to current news intake as there is only so much news it is healthy to consume at this time.
  • You’re bored and want something to do.
  • You’ve become increasingly interested in news and the media and the role it plays in the world through seeing the impact that is has at a time like this.
  • You’re studying history at school and you need to find some primary sources for a project.

NOTE: Old school newspapers may not be quite what you expect. Back in the day they were such a foundational and unique resource that people and communities put all sorts of stuff in there. Sometimes they feel more like blogs or Facebook feeds than they do contemporary print media. If someone loses their favourite knitted beanie ...they probably didn’t call them beanies back then… where does the word beanie even come from?...  on Cuba street back in the early 1900s, everybody knows about it! That kinda thing. It’s weird and fascinating. We’re keen to see what kind of stuff you’re able to find!

We Need These eManga in Our Lives (and so do you)

We understand it’s been a dark time for many manga fans. The books you were able to borrow before our libraries closed are long finished, their covers growing thick with the dust of disappointment. Your days are growing heavy with the weight of unresolved cliffhangers. Thankfully, our eLibrary is absolutely stuffed full of manga series to keep you going until you can get your hands on printed material once again. Below are some of our faves, but be sure to check out the Comics, Graphic Novels, and Manga section on OverDrive/Libby for more gold.

Overdrive cover Assassination Classroom, Volume 1, Yusei Matsui (ebook)
Volumes 1 – 5 available on OverDrive.
One of the most popular manga series currently publishing outside Japan, in Assassination Classroom we join Nagisa, Sugino, Karma, Okuda, and the other would-be assassins of Class 3E as they navigate life, death, and education under their moon-killing, pseudo-octopoid, super-organism teacher, Koro-sensei. Sound weird? Well, strap in. This is shōnen sci-fi manga at its best we’re talking about here — pretty much anything goes.

Overdrive cover Cardcaptor Sakura Omnibus, Volume 1, CLAMP (ebook)
Omnibus Volumes 1 and 2 available on OverDrive.
I love Cardcaptor Sakura unreservedly, and once you read it, you will too — and not just for its super awesome anime adaptation that aired in the late ’90s. This series has everything you’re looking for in a shōjo ‘magical girl’ manga — namely, an awesomely strong and compellingly-rendered magical girl to lead the cast, vicious beasts to fight, mythological dreamscapes to explore, complex characters that grow into their roles, and of course it can all be pulled together into a largely unknown trading card game from the year 2001 that I wish I owned. Some day, some day.

Overdrive cover Haikyu!!, Volume 1, Haruichi Furudate (ebook)
Volumes 1 – 8 available on OverDrive.
Okay, I admit it. I was skeptical about Haikyu!! at first. I mean, I’m not really one for the whole sportsball thing, so a manga about one boy’s drive to become the greatest volleyball player in Japan didn’t really sound like my cup of tea. With that out of the way, if you read one thing from this list, read this. The characters are expertly-drawn, both in terms of line and in terms of personality. The whole gamut of human experience is explored and poignantly rendered: hubris, ambition, disappointment, determination, loss, commitment, betrayal, hurt, unity — but ultimately it is this series’ big-heartedness that will win you over. Do yourself a favour and read it now.

Overdrive cover One-Punch Man, Volume 1, ONE (ebook)
Volumes 1 – 5 available on OverDrive.
I still remember the first time my friend showed me the One-Punch Man webcomic. Even then, in the summer of 2010, it seemed legendary, destined for greater things. And so it was — the manga remake is full of the charm, the absurdity, the inexplicable baldness, and the manic, supercharged energy of the original webcomic, but distilled, whisked, blended, and baked into the extended manga form. It’s a superhero story like no other, and we couldn’t recommend it more highly.

Overdrive cover Tokyo Ghoul, Volume 1, Sui Ishida (ebook)
Volumes 1 – 8 available on OverDrive.
Sui Ishida’s Tokyo Ghoul may just be one of the greatest tales in contemporary fantasy. The premise is simple — in the shadow of our regular human world there dwell mysterious, powerful, and cannibalistic demi-humans known as ghouls, kept at bay by the powerful but shadowy government-controlled CCG (Commission of Counter Ghoul), who will go to any length to exterminate ghouls from the face of the planet. The morals of each party? Grey. The storytelling? Immersive, dark, and intense. The characters? Deeply human and beautifully flawed, with motivations that gradually unwind as we get to know them. The result? A series you must read. Not for the faint of heart.

This is just the barest sliver of excellent manga you can find on OverDrive and Libby. If we don’t have what you’re after, you can always use the handy-dandy ‘Recommend to Library’ tool to suggest we purchase what you’re after. At the moment you can only recommend one title every 30 days, to make sure our librarians aren’t overwhelmed, so choose wisely!

Doing Classics at School? We got ya!

So, school is still a thing? Right?! I’m betting it is pretty hard to do school stuff from home as well as be around your family/bubble crew all day, as well as deal with what’s going on in the world. Lots of stuff happening, we can all agree. As I’m sure you know your teachers are doing everything they can in these hard times to keep your education ticking so be sure to say a massive thank you to the teachers in your life whenever you get a chance!

I thought I would put together a list of resources for anyone who is a CLASSICS student and is studying The Big Three.

Zeus, Poseidon and Hades, you ask?… (remembering the good ‘ol days of Percy Jackson)

No. The Odyssey, The Iliad and The Aeneid. These are three really common texts for senior High School Classics students to come across. If you’re doing something else at school -I’m sorry!- I’ll include some general resources in the bottom of this post.

Note: just like Shakespeare there are lots of different versions of ancient texts, with different page numbers, line numbers and even order of events. If you remember that a lot of these works are actually works of epic poetry it makes sense that depending on interpretation there might be quite different methods of presentation.  Remembering that some of it is poetry helps with reading it too, stick to the beat and rhyme rather than getting caught up in all the particulars and then later on go back and look up individual words you need to.

So: Check with your teacher what version of the text you are meant to be using!!!

Also: Heads up! Lots of ancient texts contain stories and imagery of violence and sexual violence, so look after yourself and check ratings of stuff (or avoid it completely if you need, talk to your teacher) if you are watching film versions.


Odyssey / Homer

Overdrive coverMini bio: Odysseus, after fighting in the Trojan War, tries to return back home to Ithaca and his wife Penelope, but because a lot of weird stuff happens to him, it takes ten years…you heard that right: ten years! 

  • This is a foundational example of a heroes quest.         
  • Odysseus is repeatedly shown to have the traits of Ancient Greek heroism through the ways that he defeats and overcomes the trials/tasks of his journey.
  • This story has been incredibly influential on storytelling since and is considered a fundamental text in our understanding of the time and ideas around manhood, heroism and what a quest is. In the end this is ultimately an adventure romp with villains, monsters, hot women with ulterior motives and a fair bit of magic.
  • In the context of this time and story, Odysseus’ decisions (somehow including the seven year fling) are meant to show that he is ultimately faithful to his his wife and overcomes temptation. I know, I know…MASSIVE double standards for men and women around sex and marriage… but back then they thought he did good!

The Iliad / Homer

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Wee bit back in time from The Odyssey. Essentially a prequel to it with overlapping characters but different leads. Takes place during the Trojan War.

Mini bio: This book is set in the final weeks of the Trojan War, which if you think about it it a pretty interesting plot device, to start at the end of something. Lots of previous events are spoken of and implied but not shown. Essentially the Greeks are surrounding Troy because Paris, a prince of Troy took Menelaus, the King of Sparta’s wife Helen back with him from Greece to Troy. She is ‘the most beautiful woman in the world blah blah blah.’ Spoiler: the Greek side wins because of the horse, you know the rest. It’s in pop culture big time.

Featuring famous characters like: our old friend Odysseus, Achilles, Hector, Paris, Helen, many other mortals and a whole bunch of gods such as Zeus, Hera, Athena, Aphrodite…

If you want to see a film version of this with some seriously famous leads watch 2004’s TROY. Not a substitute for reading the text, the plot varies a bit, but a pretty fun movie.


The Aeneid / Virgil

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While the other two are GREEK stories this one is ROMAN. This story is written to detail the story of the founding of Rome. So basically when the Greeks storm Troy via a very crafty wooden horse, most of the Trojans are killed but Aeneas gets together a group of survivors who escape and sail out of Troy go on an adventure and eventually make it to Italy where he founds Rome. Dido, who is the Queen of Carthage falls in love with Aeneas for a period, eventually the gods remind him of his destiny and he leaves her to continue on his journey to Italy.

Importantly this story has as much to do with the Roman politician and ruler at the time, AUGUSTUS, as it does the foundation of Rome. There are constantly parallels made between Augustus and Aeneas and the Roman political state of the time this text was being written. It can be understood as political propaganda in this way, a statement and praise of Virgil’s political moment in time. This said, Virgil’s motives and ideas are not that straightforward and he also uses this text to comment negatively on the politics of his time, it’s a double whammy.


In summary

Episode one: The Iliad, The Greek armies win the war against Troy with a wooden horse. Lots of other stuff happens.

Episode two: The Odyssey, Odysseus takes a really ridiculously long amount of time to get home after fighting in the Trojan War. He does get home eventually. Lots of stuff happens.

Episode three (takes place at the same time as The Odyssey, kind of in a wiggly ancient history way, well at least starts after the Trojan War like The Odyssey): The Aeneid, Aeneas takes a really ridiculously long time to get to Italy and found Rome after he escapes from Troy after the Trojan War. Lots of other stuff happens.

If you want to learn things and read something entertaining check out Stephen Fry’s Mythos and Heroes! For something less serious, Courtney Carbone’s Greek Gods (#squadgoals) really hits the spot.

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Five Days in the Life: A Review(ish) of MangoLanguages

Hello, B. Spinach here. Another week in lockdown Wellington is upon us and I’m really starting to feel sad that a Spanish language course I had signed up for, and is obviously not running, has been postponed. I was really pumped to meet new people and get my brain, mouth and thoughts around a whole new set of sounds to communicate with. So I have decided to do something about it with —drum roll please– one of Wellington City Libraries awesome resources: MangoLanguages!

You might be familiar with the app DuoLingo? It’s a goodie. The Italian and French courses that I did (only to a very basic level) were invaluable when I was travelling in Europe last year. So for that DuoLingo, Merci beaucoup! Well MangoLanguages is a little bit like that, but like all online language learning software it’s got its own particular format and way of doing things. It’s a really effective and well designed programme that offers 71 different language courses all of which you can access for free if you are a WCL card holder (it just takes your library card number and your PIN and you’re good to go my friend). I would like to point out that MangoLanguages is an American-run app and does not have a te reo Māori course or Pacific languages from our part of the world, so it won’t be the right tool to fulfill your reo needs.

I’ve gone for the introductory Spanish module. Firstly I am very mono-lingual so this is quite new and exciting. Secondly this post is only going to track five days and five lessons which is a WOEFULLY small sample size, but hey, hopefully it’s interesting for you to see what it’s like to dip your toes in this software and also useful for me to make sure that I stick to my plan.

To give you a feeling of what this looks like introductory Spanish is divided up into five main units, which are in turn divided into chapters inside of which there are lessons. It’s not as complicated as it sounds, don’t worry! For Spanish, the five units are: Introductions, Connections, Community, Lifestyle, and Ambition. For this blog I’m just doing the smallest sized chunk I can, because this seems sustainable, so I am doing a single lesson every day. I should mention also that there are additional units with tantalising titles like: Romance, Text Talk, Medical, Spanish for Librarians… I know we’re all drooling about that last one.


Day UNO

I’m not going to lie, I’m pretty tired today and it has been hard to focus generally. Regardless I did a lesson and managed to to do the whole thing happily. I really like the format of these lessons. There is a timer feature for you to practice the words after first being introduced to them. This seemed stressful at first but even on a tired brain I managed to happily piece together the sentences with individual words I had learned. The timer kept a good pace, I like it.

“Hello, how are you today?”                                                                                                       “Hola, ¿cómo estás hoy?”

I will be interested to see how much sticks in my tired brain for tomorrow but is quite a testament to the lesson that it grabbed my attention easier than all the chirpy TV I have been struggling to focus on today. Buenas noches.


Day DOS

So I have more energy today, excellent. I have gone for a run, done some work, watched YouTube, played frisbee, written an email, cooked food…you know, general adult stuff… and now it’s time for Spanish. Though the energy is higher today the word I related to the most is cansado, which means tired. Hmm… maybe I do need sleep after all.

Some thoughts:                                                                                          – I’m really impressed with the sound quality (would recommend headphones).
– I’ve remembered a surprising amount since yesterday, cool.                                          – – The rate of repetition is excellent. Just when something is slipping out of your brain it comes back into circulation. Doesn’t feel like a chore, more like a game/ 10/10.


Day TRES 

Day three, whoop! A beautiful Wellington day. Today’s Spanish was good, it’s really fun getting my mouth around the Spanish words. It’s worth listening carefully to the demo, just to get the softness of the T’s and get just how the double L (ll) sounds, and other letters that are said differently in English.

P.S fun fact! Did you know that llamas…yes those cute giant furry animals…are actually meant to be said with a Y sound. So like Ya-maas, if you’re sounding it out. Cool right!


Day CUATRO

Took me four days to realise this but if you click on any of the Spanish terms a little box comes up with how you say this phonetically! Don’t wait four days to work this out, it is very helpful. Also I’m on to slightly more complicated sentences now and it is helpfully showing the literal vs. equivalent phrase when word orders vary between the languages.


Day CINCO

I made it. Mini celebration. A smooth run today, I’ve got into the swing of it and am really milking the review section to keep on top of words I learned earlier in the week.

Final fun fact: Days of the Week are not capitalised like they are in English. There you go, now you know a new thing too!


My conclusion

I really like MangoLanguages! I know, a surprise right? But no, in sincerity, being in lockdown has been a really strange time for me finding any kind of focus let alone learning something totally new, and even so I have really enjoyed MangoLanguages. It is going to become a proper habit, like brushing my teeth or drinking coffee every morning. Anyway, B. Spinach out. Hope lockdown is treating you all okay and you’re finding ways to be really nice to yourself and everyone in your bubble and the world outside.

What do you say?/Was sagst du?/He aha tō whakaaro?

You’re back at school now, you might be learning a language, you might not be learning a language, you might want to learn a language… Well! For any of you interested in starting, or brushing up on a language you started a while ago, or trying to launch yourself to the top of the class, we’ve got some tools to help you with that! And these online tools that we offer do not come with a threatening and eerie owl that accosts and harangues you until you meet your language goals (even though ominous owls are something I’m particularly interested in, it’s best to be safe in these circumstances).

Anyway. The two resources I’m writing about are LanguageNut and Mango Languages, which can be found on our language resources page. Both are free for you to use, all you have to do is plug in your library card number and your pin and you’re away.

Mango Languages has many languages for you to choose, from Greek (Ancient) to Greek (Modern), from Bengali to Yiddish, from Irish to Tamil, there’ll be something to interest you. You can even learn to talk like a pirate, or insult someone the way Shakespeare would have!

A screenshot taken from Unit 1, Chapter 1, Lesson 2 of the Pirate language course. The phrase in English is "Stop your messing around and quickly align the ship with the wind!". In Pirate the phrase is "Belay yer carousin' and haul wind smartly!" A screenshot taken from Unit 1, Chapter 1, Lesson 8 of the English (Shakespearean) language course. The phrase in English is "No, as they dare. I will give them the finger; which is an insult, if they take it.". In English (Shakespearean) the phrase is "Nay, as they dare. I will bite my thumb at them; which is a disgrace, if they bear it."

LanguageNut has fewer languages, but they’ve got a fun selection of games and activities to help you revise before you test yourself. And they’ve got a good selection of Pasifika languages, including Māori!

So what language will you choose? You could learn Spanish, German, Japanese, and Hebrew to catch up with Natalie Portman, or Greek, Spanish, and French to catch up with Tom Hiddleston. Seriously. Some friends of mine started teaching themselves German in high school because of a German pop rock band. And they still remember some of the language that they managed to teach themselves in that eight month period! What have you got to lose?

And we’d love to hear from you, in whatever language you’d like to use. Get in touch with us on FacebookTwitter or Instagram and give us your best Shakespearean insult, your most carousin’ piratical expression, or just let us know what you’ve been up to during the lockdown!

 

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