Wellington City Libraries

Te Matapihi Ki Te Ao Nui

Teen Blog

Reading, Wellington, and whatever else – teenblog@wcl.govt.nz

Category: stuff to learn Page 1 of 2

Making Sense of the World Around Us

Well, we’re a fortnight into 2021 and hoo mama what a time it has been.  It’s full on for anybody right now looking around at what is going on in the world, particularly in America, and trying to just understand what on earth it all means.  In times like these, I turn books to get answers, but I know there are so many dry and dull books out there that just make the whole topic all that more confusing!  So I thought I’d put together a bit of a list of some that are interesting and topical to help you get some answers and perspective on the events of the world around us.

Eyes wide open : going behind the environmental headlines / Fleischman, Paul

This book is an excellent explainer for the position we find our world in environmentally.  It takes a deep dive into capitalism, world politics, consumerism and our everyday lives to look at just how we got here, and how we can think about moving forward.

Hope was here / Bauer, Joan

A powerful story about a young woman finding her place in a new society and how her everyday choices draw her further into local politics.

 

 

Legacy / Hereaka, Whiti

“Seventeen-year-old Riki is worried about school and the future, but mostly about his girlfriend, Gemma, who has suddenly stopped seeing or texting him. But on his way to see her, hes hit by a bus and his life radically changes. Riki wakes up one hundred years earlier in Egypt, in 1915, and finds hes living through his great-great-grandfathers experiences in the Maori Contingent. At the same time that Riki tries to make sense of whats happening and find a way home, we go back in time and read transcripts of interviews Rikis great-great-grandfather gave in 1975 about his experiences in this war and its impact on their family. Gradually we realise the fates of Riki and his great-great-grandfather are intertwined.” (Catalogue)

Saints and misfits : a novel / Ali, S. K

Janna divides the world around her into three categories – saints, misfits and monsters, to try to make sense of the events happening in her life.  She is trying to fit into her community and deal with a recent traumatic event that she has been through.

 

The tyrant’s daughter / Carleson, J. C.

“When her father is killed in a coup, Laila and her mother and brother leave their war-torn homeland for a fresh start in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. At her new high school, Laila makes mistakes, makes friends, and even meets a boy who catches her eye. But this new life brings unsettling facts to light. The American newspapers call her father a brutal dictator and suggest that her family’s privilege came at the expense of innocent lives. Meanwhile, her mother would like nothing more than to avenge his death, and she’ll go to great lengths to regain their position of power. As an international crisis takes shape around her, Laila is pulled in one direction, then another, but there’s no time to sort out her feelings. She has to pick a side now, and her decision will affect not just her own life, but countless others. . . . Inspired by the author’s experience as a CIA officer in Iraq and Syria, this book is as timely as it is relevant.” (Catalogue)

The dharma punks / Sang, Anthony

“Auckland, New Zealand, 1994. A group of anarchist punks have hatched a plan to sabotage the opening of a multi-national fast-food restaurant by blowing it sky-high come opening day. Chopstick has been given the unenviable task of setting the bomb in the restaurant the night before the opening, but when he is separated from his accomplice, Tracy, the night takes the first of many unexpected turns. Chance encounters and events from his past conspire against him, forcing Chopstick to deal with more than just the mission at hand. Still reeling after the death of a close friend, and struggling to reconcile his spiritual path with his political actions, Chopstick’s journey is a meditation on life, love, friendship and blowing things up!” (Catalogue)

Bernie Sanders guide to political revolution / Sanders, Bernard

“Adapted for young readers from Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In, from political revolutionary and cultural icon Bernie Sanders comes an inspiring teen guide to engaging with and shaping the world–a perfect gift and an important read. Adapted for young readers from “Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In, ” this inspiring teen guide to engaging with and shaping the world is from political revolutionary and cultural icon Senator Sanders.” (Catalogue)

She takes a stand : 16 fearless activists who have changed the world / Ross, Michael Elsohn

“She Takes a Stand offers a realistic look at the game-changing decisions, high stakes, and bold actions of women and girls around the world working to improve their personal situations and the lives of others.

This inspiring collection of short biographies features the stories of extraordinary figures past and present who have dedicated their lives to fighting for human rights, civil rights, workers’ rights, reproductive rights, and world peace. Budding activists will be inspired by antilynching crusader and writerIda B. Wells, birth control educator and activist Margaret Sanger, girls-education activist Malala Yousafzai, Gulabi Gang founder Sampat Pal Devi, who fights violence against Indian women, Dana Edell, who works against the sexualization of women and girls in the media, and many others.” (Catalogue)

Dawn Raid / Smith, Pauline

“Like many 13-year-old girls, Sofia’s main worries are how to get some groovy go-go boots, and how not to die of embarrassment giving a speech at school! But when her older brother Lenny starts talking about marches and protests and overstayers, and how Pacific Islanders are being bullied by the police for their passports and papers, a shadow is cast over Sofia’s sunny teenage days. Through her heartfelt diary entries, we witness the terror of being dawn-raided and gain an insight into the courageous and tireless work of the Polynesian Panthers in the 1970s as they encourage immigrant families across New Zealand to stand up for their rights.” (Catalogue)

The rise of the Nazis / Tonge, Neil

Learn about the Nazi occupation through visually stimulating primary sources taken from the War era; readers will be engaged as they discover authentic newspapers, broadcasts, propaganda, letters, and diary entries.

 

Persepolis / Satrapi, Marjane

“The intelligent and outspoken child of radical Marxists, and the great-grandaughter of Iran’s last emperor, Satrapi bears witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country. Persepolis paints an unforgettable portrait of daily life in Iran and of the bewildering contradictions between home life and public life. Amidst the tragedy, Marjane’s child’s eye view adds immediacy and humour, and her story of a childhood at once outrageous and ordinary, beset by the unthinkable and yet buffered by an extraordinary and loving family, is immensely moving. It is also very beautiful; Satrapi’s drawings have the power of the very best woodcuts.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Hindsight : pivotal moments in New Zealand history / Hager, Mandy

Hindsight is a good look at four key moments in New Zealand history and how they affected our society as a nation.

 

Te Taiao – The Environment and Your Future

In this age of global climate change, and amongst the deniers, te taiao – the environment, is ever-changing and ever-important. It has recently come to the fore in a hugely political movement, globalised since the first speech of Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg. This blog series will look at three aspects of climate change. Firstly, the scoop on global climate change issues, secondly on local or Aotearoa-based climate issues and thirdly, how yourselves as rangatahi can enact change against the climate crisis.

Firstly, the global picture

Acidification of our oceans

Drivers of hypoxia and acidification in our oceans

Factors showing the driving of acidification in our oceans.

Due to the vastly industrialised world, and the ever-increasing pollution from factories and car exhausts, our oceans are becoming acidified. This is because the oceans absorb 30 per cent of the carbon dioxide released from land use and emissions (Ocean Service, 2020). It means we have less organisms in the sea, and people’s livelihoods will be affected. The behaviour of non-calcifying creatures are also affected, leading to different catchments being available. It affects directly the coral reefs, which provide amazing habitats for many sea-going creatures, and the acidic waters are actually dissolving some sea creatures shells right now (Bennett, 2020).

Salinity of water bodies i.e. lakes

Due to the salination effects on waterways from climate change, the waterways have increased in temperature about 2-4 degrees since the 1960s (Cheng L. et al. 2020). This has meant an ever-increasing salination rate, causing widespread damage to local aquatic and marine populations. What this means is that areas will become drier than before, eliminating vital habitat for various creatures, and a lessening of resources for humans to consume.

Read More

What’s your Marae?

Kia ora e hoa!

Recently I have been reading the library’s copy of Marae: te tatau pounamu, giving an insight into Māori custom, and how rangitahi and kauheke come together in these special places.

I am lucky to call two marae to be important places for me. The first is Te Herenga Waka, at Victoria University Wellington.

I recently was welcomed there as being a student, and as part of my library work. It holds a poupou of my Iwi’s shared tipuna Kahungunu, a  mighty chief. The marae is a very welcoming space for all students, and its name means ‘The Hitching-post of Waka’, a fitting testament to the many tribes coming together at the university.

The image is of the marae of Victoria University Wellington, called Te Herenga Waka

Te Herenga Waka, the marae of Victoria University Wellington

The second marae is now called Takitimu. Its original name was Te Wai-hirere after the small mountain where Māui’s canoe, Tama-Rereti, rested when snagging the North Island with his fishing hook, on the East Coast Hawke’s Bay area.

Image of Takitimu marae, named after the spot where Māui grounded his waka

The Takitimu marae, at Wairoa, was originally named after the spot where Māui grounded his waka.

Takitimu marae entrance, looking from the roadside

Takitimu marae entrance, looking from the roadside

Image of Patrick John Cosgrove, aged about 34, he is my tipuna.

Patrick John Cosgrove, my tipuna (ancestor).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was the place where my tipuna, Patrick John Cosgrove was a prominent young Māori, in Wairoa during the late 1800s. He was Christian, and the relationship between local Māori and the church helped construction of the marae due to the assistance of Māori during the Easter festival the year before. It has many ancestral panels and is highly decorated. It is a place of mana for many. My tipuna also married a chieftain’s granddaughter, the niece of the first Native minister Sir James Carroll.

The whakatara, or challenge, to you is to look into your local marae and tell us about them! They can be your marae, or the ones in your area that you want to get to know.

Kia kaha in your journey through te ao Māori! 🙂

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 2

Information overload is what we are trying to avoid, and by growing up with digital experiences, you are well on your way to interpreting the right information from the wrong or misleading.

Information literacy can be paired with Visual literacy skills. It is part of a process called Paratextual reading. Paratextual means accompanying the text with other forms of literacy, or texts. For instance, a mixed media approach to books could be aligning renditions of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies graphic novel with the original novel format.

Relatable Content

Paratextual reading is about utilising any known facet of literature, or media and comparing and analysing the information together. It is about relatable themes, pulling out the best bits of each work (whether a music video, podcast or book) and integrating that relatable content with the thing you’re writing about now.

It’s about relatable themes, pulling out the best bits of each work

An example is a book review about Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice. Most of you know the story before, and in your book review or report you can relate the content of the book with the movie adaption featuring Kiera Knightley (2005) for instance. Or using the beloved BBC TV series adaptation featuring the extremely likeable Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. Or in fact, you can cross-reference the adaptation Pride and Prejudice and Zombies book (all of these items are in the library FYI).

But what about visual literacy?

Yes, this too can be intertwined in information literacy skills. Mixed media approaches to understanding information are key to any scholarly report, or school subject. Being critical of graphic and illustrative examples of works is a great way to show breadth and depth of understanding. It also highlights the critical nature of understanding texts. Film critics rely heavily on these skills to understand the emotion of a film, its historical accuracy and the music which ties in the ultimate rendition of the text being portrayed. It can really make or break a film as to the message it is trying to convey through story-telling.

Visual literacy is about reading, with your senses – mostly your eyes, it is the visual clues within a text (be it video, book or game) that allows you to pick up on the right information and to interpret the results appropriately. It conveys the message of the text, and can be instrumental in ordering how you understand a text and how you use a text.

It is the visual clues within a text that allows you to pick up on the right information

This includes the colour of the book, its font, the illustrations used or not used, and the layout of the text – even across movies, these factors determine your understanding and comprehension. It allows us to be lulled into a false impression of the information it contains, by being advertised as wholesome or eye-catching. Some colours represent shock and awe, such as most military books, or lighter tones for cooking books. This breathes an intimacy of trust to a text and it helps you determine what is trustworthy information and where it is to be avoided.

Read (and watch) more

Test out your newfound visual and paratextual literacy skills today with the complete Pride and Prejudice Info Lit Bundle™ below:

Pride and prejudice / Austen, Jane

The OG classic in all its glory.


Pride & prejudice (2005)

Let your visual exploration of this text begin here. Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFadyen await!


Pride and prejudice (1995)

The famous BBC adaptation. Look Colin Firth in the eyes and tell him you aren’t going to watch it. Can’t do it? Yeah. We thought so.


Pride and prejudice and zombies : the classic Regency romance — now with ultraviolent zombie mayhem / Grahame-Smith, Seth

I mean it pretty much does what it says on the tin.


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

From the Vaults IV: Printed Music

Heads up, music nerds, this one’s for you! This week’s post in our From the Vaults series features some of the more niche content we hold in the vast warren of shelves that is Te Pātaka, our Collection Distribution Centre — printed music.

In the time since the Central Library closed, you may well have forgotten that it contained a massive collection of music scores and songbooks, covering all styles and genres of music from pop to classical, jazz to musical theatre, and much more. Whether you need a score for a music exam or NCEA performance at school, or just want to chill out at home learning some new tunes, there’s bound to be something in our collection for you.

How our classical, jazz, and popular sheet music collections are often[citation needed] described!

But how to find it, you ask? Sadly, it’s not quite as easy as just typing “classical music” into the catalogue search and hoping for the best. Your best bet is to know a little about what you want before hitting the keyboard. Here are a few different ways you can go about it:

1. Search by Composer

This is probably the most straightforward way to go about finding sheet music in our catalogue. First, go to our catalogue. Go to the “Advanced Search”, and click in the “author” field. Here you can type the name of the composer — it doesn’t matter what order you put their names in. For example, “Bach, Johann Sebastian” and “Johann Sebastian Bach” will return the same set of results. If you’re looking for guitar tabs for your favourite band, the band name itself is the “author,” e.g. “Green Day” 0r “Ed Sheeran.”

Once you’ve done your search, you may be confronted by an intimidatingly long list of results. Fear not! Your next step is to filter by format. Click on “Format” on the left-hand side, and then select “Score.” Now, your results will show just printed music, and you can browse and reserve the items to your heart’s content! The librarians/gremlins/mystical shelf beings at Te Pātaka will hunt down that score and send it wherever it needs to go.

Behold, the magic of catalogue filtering!

2. Search By Instrument

This feature is a little less reliable and a little more clunky than the above, and it can only be used for classical music and jazz, but it can still be useful if you’re looking for pieces to learn for school or leisure! Here’s how you do it:

  1. Go to our catalogue homepage
  2. Click on “Advanced Search”
  3. Using the drop-down arrow, select “Call Number” from the list and “begins with” in the middle column
  4. Type “score” followed by the following numbers (or you can click the links below to take you right there!):
    1. Vocal music — 780
      1. Part songs — 780.4
      2. Sacred music — 780.5
      3. Choral scores — 780.6
      4. Musical theatre and Opera — 780.7
    2. Instrumental music — 781
      1. Flute and piccolo — 781.11
      2. Recorder — 781.112
      3. Oboe — 781.12
      4. Clarinet — 781.13
      5. Bassoon — 781.14
      6. Trumpet — 781.15 (jazz trumpet 781.1598)
      7. Horn — 781.16
      8. Trombone — 781.17
      9. Saxophone — 781.18 (jazz sax 781.1898)
      10. Bagpipes and accordion — 781.19
      11. Harp — 781.2
      12. Lute — 781.24
      13. Guitar — 781.25
      14. Violin — 781.3
      15. Viola — 781.34
      16. Cello — 781.35
      17. Double bass — 781.37
      18. Piano — 781.4 (jazz piano 781.48)
      19. Harpsichord — 781.5
      20. Piano duets — 781.6
      21. Organ — 781.7 and 781.8
      22. Percussion — 781.9
    3. Chamber and orchestral music — 782
      1. String trios — 782.1
      2. Piano trios — 782.2
      3. String quartets — 782.3
      4. Piano quartets — 782.4
      5. String quintets — 782.5
      6. Wind ensembles — 782.6
      7. Orchestral scores — 782.7
      8. Miniature scores — 782.77

3. Virtual Shelf Browsing

If you’re the kind of person that likes wandering through the shelves, revelling in the possibility of serendipitous discovery, there’s some good news — with our online catalogue, you can (sort of) replicate that experience! Here’s how you do it:

  1. Go to our catalogue homepage
  2. Click on “Advanced Search”
  3. Using the drop-down arrow, select “Call Number” from the list
  4. Enter “score” or “songbook” in the search
  5. When the list of results come up, select “View As: Flow” in the top right corner
  6. Finally, select “Sort By: Call Number” in the top left. The result will be all of the scores and/or songbooks held in the library collection, organised in order of where they would be on the shelf. If we have an image of the book cover, you will see that as well (but a lot of these books were added to the library catalogue before computers or the Internet existed, so we don’t have cover images for all of them!)

Just the same as browsing a physical library shelf… right?

So, if printed music is your jam, make sure you check out this veritable cornucopia of shtuff. It’s there for you to enjoy!

Out On The Shelves: Rainbow Stories at Your Library

It is now officially the 2020 Out On The Shelves campaign week! All around the country, libraries, bookstores, schools and other organisations are putting on displays and events to celebrate LGBTQIA+ stories, and to help connect rainbow people to those stories and to each other.

Rejoice, for this year Campaign Week is not one week, but two, from 17 — 30 August. And there’s all kinds of things you can do! You can participate in the Rainbow Writing Competition — your writing could be featured in the Rainbow Zine, and you could be in to win some sweet book voucher prizes, courtesy of the Women’s Book Shop! You could head into one of our libraries, enjoy one of our Out On The Shelves displays, and pick yourself up some excellent reading material from our collection. If you’re more e-inclined, or not super keen on leaving the house, you could visit our LGBTQIA+ Reading Room on OverDrive, or learn about your rainbow history in the Archives of Sexuality and Gender, which WCL was the first public library in the world to provide full access to. Once you’ve done all that, don’t forget to tell us what you think of what you’ve read by writing a review and submitting it to the good folks at Out On The Shelves.

Keep an eye out for more Out On The Shelves content hitting this blog and your local library. Soon we’ll be posting some gorgeous photos of our libraries getting dressed up all fancy and colourful to celebrate Out On The Shelves along with you — sometimes our shelves can be quite bashful; not so during Campaign Week! For now, though, here are some of our favourite rainbow titles from our collections to whet your appetite:

Sometimes we tell the truth : a novel / Zarins, Kim
{reps: intersex}
{content warnings: sexual assault, ptsd}

Look, we’re suckers for contemporary re-imaginings of classic literature. Some might say it’s the reason we got into this business. So this re-telling of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales is as fun as it is compelling and moving. It’s the kind of book that gets you to think about the stories we tell, not just to others, but even to ourselves, and the ways in which those stories themselves can sometimes assume the structure of a fiction. At the moment, we only hold this book in our vast Central collection at the Te Pātaka Collection Distribution Warehouse, so reserve it now to get sent to the branch of your choosing!

Every day / Levithan, David
{reps: non-binary}
{content warnings: violence, substance abuse, dysmorphia}

Surely every queer person remembers what it was like the first time they read a David Levithan novel. His works (including Two Boys Kissing, Boy Meets Boy, Will Grayson, Will Grayson) are now so central to the LGBTQIA+ canon that it’s hard to imagine the landscape of contemporary fiction without him. Every Day is one of his most interesting stories. You’ll meet A, a mysterious being that each day inhabits a new body, a new life. Every day they need to become accustomed to a new way of living, a new set of relationships, learning and re-learning over and over again how to be. A’s conception of their own gender identity, sexuality, and indeed personhood is mutable, changeable, flexible as it needs to be. Strong though they are, it is truly their inner voice that is most compelling and relatable as they play through all of the narratives of confusion, defiance, frustration, love, dysmorphia, terror, and acceptance that will be so familiar to so many in our rainbow community. Trust us, and give this a read — you won’t regret it.

Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the universe / Sáenz, Benjamin Alire
{reps: gay}
{content warnings: discrimination, violence}

We know, we know, this isn’t the first time we’ve highlighted this gem of a novel on this very platform. We’re sorry, but we can’t help but trumpet the importance of this book every time we have the opportunity! Sáenz’s extremely spare, almost poetic, prose sets out in pointillistic detail the agony and anticipation of leaving childhood behind and moving on to somewhere new. At times surreal, but always searing straight through to the heart (yours, mine, the characters’), this story picks you up and never lets you go until what we would class as one of the most perfect endings to a YA novel in recent memory. Even then, it doesn’t truly let you go. Ever. He has a way of setting out the most expansive ideas in the most devastatingly simple of words. Read a segment below to get a sense of what we mean:

There was a tear running down his cheek. It seemed like a river in the light of the setting sun.

I wondered what it was like, to be the kind of guy that cried over the death of a bird.

I waved bye. He waved bye back.

As I walked home, I thought about birds and the meaning of their existence. Dante had an answer. I didn’t. I didn’t have any idea as to why birds existed. I’d never even asked myself the question.

Dante’s answer made sense to me. If we studied birds, maybe we could learn to be free. I think that’s what he was saying. I had a philosopher’s name. What was my answer? Why didn’t I have an answer?

And why was it that some guys had tears in them and some had no tears at all? Different boys lived by different rules.

When I got home, I sat on my front porch.

I watched the sun set.

— Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. Simon and Schuster (2012).

All out: the no-longer-secret stories of queer teens throughout the ages / Mitchell, Saundra (ed.)
{reps: lesbian, trans*, asexual, gay}
content warnings: violence, discrimination}

This gorgeous collection of historical short stories is like the perfect fiction companion to Sarah Prager’s biography collection Queer, there, and everywhere: 23 people who changed the world. Oftentimes historical fiction containing LGBTQIA+ representations focusses on the difficulties of life for queer people ‘back in the day,’ or worse, just contains tokenistic references to queer people. This collection is not that. The stories, while they are mostly* accurate portrayals of their respective eras, feel more authentic, the depictions of the characters and their surroundings crystallised through the patented queer lens. The characters are without exception deftly sketched, their circumstances relatable, their relationships real, and their experiences — adventures, first loves, heartbreaks, self-discoveries — speak to a broad universality in queer experience while acknowledging the singularity of each individual’s lived reality. The stories collectively stand and say “Hey, we were here too! We were real, and we lived and loved and ate and cried and went to work and participated in history, just as everyone else did!” And that, friends, is exactly what good fiction should do.

New Simultaneous Collections on OverDrive!

We heard a rumour that you guys might quite like books. We also like books. So, we’ve created a new collection of always-available eBooks and audiobooks for you to enjoy any time, anywhere. Check out the Teen Book Club Reads section on OverDrive or Libby for the full list, but for now, here are some of our faves:

Overdrive cover Two Boys Kissing, David Levithan (ebook)
{LGBTQ+, romance, slice-of-life}
Two Boys Kissing is a cornerstone work of queer YA literature. Told from the perspectives of four boys “under the watchful eyes of a Greek chorus of a generation of men lost to AIDS,” this book explores questions of identity and emotion, and the often intimate connections between history and the personal. While you’re drying your eyes and restoring your breathing patterns to normal following this essential book, check out our LGBTQIA+ Fiction booklist for your next literary fix.

Overdrive cover Aspiring, Damien Wilkins (ebook)
{NZ author, small town, coming-of-age}
We’ve already talked about our enduring love for this book, which is a finalist in the 2020 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, on a previous post on this very blog. Trust us when we say that you will not regret immersing yourself in the unforgettably wry and observational voice of 15-year-old Ricky, crafted and shaped by Damien Wilkins’ bold and beguiling prose.

Overdrive cover Monster, Michael Grant (ebook)
{dystopian, science fiction, action}
From the author of the crazily popular Gone series comes this new trilogy, available for the first time on OverDrive as a Book Club read. In the aftermath of the Perdido Beach meteorite and the deadly wave of mutations that followed, Earth is once again being struck by meteorites bearing an even more deadly virus. This time, the whole world is exposed, and humans are beginning to change, again, some gaining unfathomable power. Sound like your kind of thing? We have the follow-ups Hero and Villain available for your delectation as well.

Overdrive cover You Can Do a Graphic Novel, Barbara Slate (ebook)
{non fiction, art, creative writing, comics}
If you’ve ever been interested in the art of creating graphic novels and comics, this nifty guide is meant for you! It starts at the start — with the story — and shows you the ropes as you move through the whole creative process, from drawing techniques and layout/structure tips, to how to deal with creative block and building strong and recognisable characters. Who knows, we may just see your work on our shelves in the zine collections at Arapaki, He Matapihi, and Newtown Libraries!

Overdrive cover Feminism, Nadia Abushanab Higgins (ebook)
{non fiction, feminism, social sciences, women}
This book is a concise and well-written introduction to the concepts and movements embodied by the word ‘feminism,’ which author Nadia Abushanab Higgins describes as “America’s new F-word.” Although it does have an undeniable focus on the history and contemporary definitions of feminism in the United States, it still provides a useful international perspective on the movement through really interesting profiles of pioneers including Gloria Steinem, Rebecca Walker, Elizabeth Stanton, and more. If you’re interested in the intersectionality between feminism and the Black Lives Matter and #GiveNothingToRacism movements, we have a great introduction for you here.

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!

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