>A quick update from New Zealand Book Month (NZBM), which has been extended into April for Christchurch after the recent earthquake.
Sadly numerous NZBM events in the city have been cancelled, including workshops with comic book writer Steve Malley, and the exciting ‘Create an NZ Superhero’ online competition – but libraries are still playing a major part in the recovery effort.
Carolyn Robertson, the city’s Libraries and Information Manager, told Books and Adventures, ‘I think books and library services were absolutely instrumental in helping people cope in the aftermath. The quake occurred on a Tuesday. By the following Sunday, there was a library story teller at every shelter with books, rhymes, and songs. The children’s responses varied from shelter to shelter: at one, they were very hyper and upset, at another they were painfully shy and needed lots of encouragement to even sit on the mat. So the library staff had to pull out all their tricks, and adjust the programme to meet different needs.
‘Parents were having to queue for hours to get money, grants, information and so on, but the presence of our storytellers meant they could concentrate on the survival business and know their children were being well cared for – and within their eye sight.
‘We currently have eleven library sites open and our customers are thrilled to be enjoying these services again. We have stepped up our Mobile Library service, targeting the worst hit parts of the city, roads permitting, as well as taking pre-school outreach and other programmes further into the community. Some of our libraries are being used to accommodate essential council services, but we’re busy looking for ways to establish temporary sites or alternative services where there’s need and demand.”
Carolyn is pleased that NZBM were able to extend their activities for people in Christchurch: ‘NZ Book Month provides events that are fun and don’t involve much financial outlay. One of the things that gets some people down is the endless focusing on the quake and its impact. We also need to escape a bit – and we’re already planning for next year!’