Friday, July 22, 2011

A Special Library in Colombia

Take one dedicated teacher, a donkey and a stack of children's books and what do you have? Biblioburro of course. This library in Colombia gives new meaning to the term 'mobile library'. Luis Sorian Boroquez inspires a love of reading and learning in children who might otherwise have little, if any, access to books. He believes that 'a child who we educate today will understand rights, duties and commitments, and will say no to war and violence.' His own commitment to getting books to children is admirable. What a great man.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

How to spend a foggy, freezing Sunday morning.

Don’t get out of bed until the house is warm. The cat will let me know when it's warm enough (and she's hungry enough) to uncurl herself from the end of the bed. Hang out a load of washing and hope the fog clears so it will dry.

Read some chapters of Lethal Legacy by Linda Fairstein. It’s centred around murder and mystery at the New York Public Library. I seem to be finding library connections everywhere this year. It’s the 10th book in the Alex Cooper series I’ve read. All have settings in and about significant New York landmarks so I’ve learnt a fair bit about New York history.

Write an article for the new blog I set up on WordPress yesterday. See It’s a blog for and about my university studies. More of a professional blog than this one and will include some posts that are required for my digital technologies paper. I decided to use WordPress because I wanted to try a different blogging platform and see how it compares to Blogger.

Start roaming around the WordPress blogs to see what other people are doing and how they've set their blogs up. I spent ages looking through a blog by Bridget Schaumann, who has a really good school library blog as well as an interesting personal blog. Get distracted by some entertaining YouTube videos – there goes half an hour. Check my e-mail. There's already a comment to approve on my first WordPress article!

The sun is coming out. Time to go outside and soak up a few rays.

Here is one of the entertaining YouTube videos I watched - the best of Funny Talking Animals by the BBC.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Does my cat need a CAT scan?

After blood tests, a microbiology culture, an X-ray, two lots of antibiotics and three visits to the vet the cause of Molly's nasal discharge is still a mystery. Although it has eased and she seems happy enough there is something not quite right in her tiny little nose. The vet mentioned an MRI or CAT scan as they suspect a foreign body, maybe from a previous event in 2007, could be causing the problem. But they admit they don't really know, and without more sophisticated (and expensive) investigations the problem will remain a mystery. After discussing the situation with the vet today we agreed to leave the mystery unsolved for now as Molly is OK and the antibiotics seem to have dealt with the recent infection.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Trimester Two Starts

My second trimester as a full-time distance student at Victoria University of Wellington started this week. I'm taking three information studies papers:
Info521 Management in Information Services
Info525 Digital Technologies for Information Professionals
Info528 Research Methods

Each paper has a weekly online class. It's good to be able to hear and speak to the course coordinators and other students although it is a little odd to be in a class full of people you can't see. One advantage is that I don't have to worry if I'm having a bad hair day and no one would know if I attended class in my pyjamas! As these will be my 5th, 6th and 7th papers I'm used to the system now. I feel more comfortable about speaking using the microphone and can focus on getting the most out of the sessions. I'm looking forward to learning more about the subjects of management, digital technologies and research, and I hope the assignments will be as interesting as they were last semester.

The photo is of Rutherford House in Wellington. That's where the School of Information Management is situated apparently. I must visit my university one day!
Photo by TreMichLan

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A Special Library in Samoa

This time last year I was in Samoa with some members of my family enjoying a winter getaway. We spent a few days at Lalomanu on the south east coast of Upolu. Lalomanu is a beautiful place and we met some lovely people there. We stayed in a fale on the beach. The fales had just been rebuilt after the tsunami in 2009 had wiped out all of the buildings in the lower part of Lalomanu. Part of the village was on higher ground and escaped the tsunami, including the hospital and school. We visited the school during the weekend and Zak played touch with some of the children there.

I recently learned via the internet that a library has been built at Lalomanu School since we were there. It was the result of a project undertaken by an Australian couple as a tribute to their six year old daughter, Clea, who died in the tsunami. Her parents, Jorge Salavert and Trudie Wykes, decided that building a library would be a fitting tribute to Clea (who loved reading) and it would be a meaningful way to contribute to the community to which they will forever be linked through tragic loss. The Salavert - Wykes family, with the help of family, friends and community, including Clea's school, organised fundraising, book collections and the building and furnishing of a library at Lalomanu School.

I think the library is a wonderful tribute to Clea and will help create a positive future through literacy and education for the young people of Lalomanu.

Images of the Clea Salavert Library by the Library Association of Samoa

Monday, July 4, 2011

Finn Brothers

It's always hard to get in touch with StudyLink by phone and today they were simply refusing to take calls at times. However at least when you do get put on hold they play music by the local lads - Tim and Neil Finn. I don't mind listening to a bit of Crowded House or Split Enz while waiting for a discussion about my student allowance. They are such talented musicians. I first saw them about 30 years ago when they performed as Split Enz in Palmerston North and I saw them again a couple of years ago when they came back to perform in their home town. I love the old songs such as My Mistake, I Got You and I See Red, and one of my favourite more recent songs is Won't Give In. I'm still waiting for an answer to my StudyLink query but it got me into the mood for some Finn brothers music today.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

I have just read the amazing story of William Kamkwamba, a young man from Malawi whose ingenuity and determination changed the lives of his family and community. He was forced to drop out of high school when his parents were unable to pay his school fees. But William was determined to keep up with his studies so he borrowed books from the tiny library (just three shelves) at the local school. He became fascinated by a couple of books about energy and although his English was poor he persevered to make sense of the information. At the same time a famine was sweeping through Malawi and life was a struggle for William and everyone around him. The description of the famine is harrowing yet throughout that time William never gave up on his dream. At the age of just 14, using scrap materials and his own ingenuity, he built a windmill that generated electricity, and changed the lives of his family and community.

I loved this book, it is an inspiration. Although parts of it are horrific throughout the story you can feel the strength of spirit, creativity and determination of William. As a library studies student I was fascinated by the role the tiny library of donated books played in William's life. William's story has spread around the world and he has spoken at TED conferences about his life (see the video below).

Friday, July 1, 2011

Christchurch. Can we fix it?

Christchurch is having tough year and I feel for the people there. But here is a lighthearted look at the situation.