Auckland Libraries has just launched its first online game, City of Souls – an interactive zombie adventure for ages 14 and over.
City of Souls – click the image to play!
Written by my colleague Danielle Carter using the free Twine game design software, City of Souls takes place in the same universe as both our Tupu Youth Library zombie siege and the recent Apocalypse Z interactive theatre event in Auckland’s CBD.
I alluded to my busy Auckland week in Friday’s post announcing my New Zealand Book Domino Challenge – for which the prize is cake, so if you are a Kiwi librarian and feeling adventurous, please join in.
The Cake Is Not A Lie
Last Saturday saw Auckland Libraries take their services into the city’s comic stores for Free Comic Book Day, as part of my project to expand librarianship beyond the walls of individual institutions into the wider community.
I was then interviewed by the erudite and wonderfully geeky Emmet O’Cuana for his podcast The Momus Report, with the discussion ranging widely from the educational value of pop culture to the Kierkegaardian implications of the 1978 movie Star Crash.
This week also included a visit to Auckland Libraries from Tracie Mauro of Parkes, NSW – a daring and innovative librarian whose work appeared on Monday’s Library as Incubator Project. Tracie and I travelled the Far North District in New Zealand, exploring library services and programmes in rural areas far from my usual Auckland beat.
Yesterday I was quoted in the New Zealand Herald, in a satisfyingly positive article which recognises that the 21st century library is about so much more than just shelves…and I also took some time out for a trip to the Christchurch vs. Auckland roller derby match, which reminded me of this neat guest post on roller derby and librarianship from Melbourne’s Jordi Kerr.
If you’ll excuse me all, it’s Sunday evening, so I will now go for a lie down…
Lots of adventures to report this week, but it will all have to wait until Monday.
For now, I want to repeat a challenge I’ve set New Zealand’s librarians on Twitter.
A couple of years ago, the amazing Arizona retail chain Bookmans made a promotional video with an elaborate sequence of book dominoes.
There’s been a lot of discussion in New Zealand this week about the mission of libraries and how to share it with the public in the 21st century.
I’m lucky enough to work for Auckland Libraries, the largest public library system in Australasia. Their strategy document Te Kauroa – Future Directions posits libraries as “your space of imagination, learning, and connection.” A public institution whose value in connecting us all to the sum total of human culture and knowledge goes beyond books on shelves into the realms of play, performance, and interactive digital outreach.
Bookmans, in Arizona, do wonderful community outreach work which puts many libraries around the world to shame, with some especially inspiring youth programmes. I interviewed Bookmans staff about their work last year.
That book domino video captures the blend of charm, creativity and outright cheek which I think lies at the heart of the best public libraries – so I challenged Kiwi librarians on Twitter to do as well as Bookmans, or go one further, and post the results on YouTube.
I’ll personally bake a cake for the first librarian in New Zealand who, in my judgment, matches or outdoes Bookmans’ stirling online effort.
A hongi with the Rebel Alliance
Librarians in Auckland ventured into comic book stores to celebrate Star Wars Day and Free Comic Book Day by issuing memberships and loaning items from their collections. More soon, but in the meantime here’s Twitter coverage via Storify.
[View the story "Auckland Libraries goes mobile for Star Wars Day/Free Comic Book Day" on Storify]
A local politician in Marlborough, New Zealand, has suggested ditching the district’s libraries in favour of distributing e-readers to residents.
The Kiwi TV show Breakfast on One reported this news in a piece titled “The final chapter for libraries?”
Although Kiwi librarians are attempting to push back with the Twitter hashtag #morethanbooks, responses have tended to focus on the fact that libraries use e-books too, and include other items like music in their collections as well.
The simple truth is, libraries aren’t about books on shelves, or compact discs, or even e-readers. Those are tools, mere means to an end.
Libraries are about helping the public to explore the world of knowledge and culture on their own terms. That might mean performance art in British libraries, bringing books to life through gaming in Toronto, or holding teen zombie battles in Auckland.
A library isn’t just a storage space for books on shelves – it’s also a place where musicians perform; where computer software is written; where teens get to wrestle a zombie-bitten police officer to the ground while debating the ethics of surviving a disaster scenario.
Yet one local politician has said “Why not replace libraries with e-readers?” and Kiwi librarians are on the defensive, letting their enemies set the terms of the debate. Read more
Auckland Libraries’ Anne Dickson led teen zombie hordes against a group of survivors in Tupu Youth Library
Last Friday in Tupu Youth Library, South Auckland, I ran an interactive live-action zombie event for teens on their school holidays.
The ‘survivors’, aged from 12 to 18, found themselves besieged in a meeting room while zombies feasted on hapless victims outside. Teens made barricades from furniture, used library resources to plan their escape from South Auckland, and faced special challenges including detecting potential zombie victims and even wrestling with a zombified police officer!
See the Tupu Zombies on New Zealand’s TV3 News and find more coverage at New Zealand’s Stuff.co.nz website.
Forgive the shameless self-promotion, but I’ve just been featured in the latest edition of Australian Books & Publishing, speaking about community outreach, daring to be different, and why rural Australia proved one of the most exciting places to create children’s and youth events for libraries.
It’s a subscriber-only link, but there is the option to sign up for a free trial.
You can read my profile piece in Australian Books & Publishing Online.
Central City Library, Auckland
So, a big announcement has been in the works for some time: from 25th February I begin a six-month contract as adviser to Auckland Libraries, the largest public library network in the southern hemisphere. The mission is to extend and enhance Auckland’s already superlative library offerings for children and young people with creative, challenging, and sustainable activities for the future.
I feel confident that we’re entering an era of swashbuckling literacy adventure Down Under. Auckland is the city where kids play a Kiwi-themed version of Angry Birds in their libraries; the city whose librarians already talked Bryan Lee O’Malley into letting them use Scott Pilgrim as the face of their comic book events and wooed Amanda Palmer into giving an impromptu Get Loud In Libraries-style guerilla gig.
Before Auckland beckons, I’ve been looking at the latest developments in the UK and US. The Future Foyles workshop held on Monday of this week brought together publishing, retail, and literacy professionals seeking a vision for London’s next great flagship bookstore – you’ll see me quoted in The Bookseller’s report of the event - and finding much food for thought from a wider community outreach perspective.
In the second part of his guest post for Books and Adventures, Steve Saville of Alfriston College in Auckland, New Zealand, discusses the lessons to be learned from his pioneering comics in the classroom workshops.
Most educators currently involved in secondary schools in New Zealand would agree that creativity is a good thing and that it needs to be encouraged; that we need to nurture and encourage the creative young people who will solve the problems posed by our ever changing world.
We can all look to our own school environments and proudly detail how creativity is nurtured, encouraged, and celebrated in our schools. We provide ample opportunities for writing, artistic expression, the creative use of digital technologies, dance, and drama. Our schools have bands, singers, sculptors. We offer classes in creative writing and philosophy. It can be argued that we have countless opportunities for young people to express and develop their creative skills.
We can also think of numerous teachers that we would classify as creative in their approaches, talented educators who find new and exciting ways to get their learners thinking. Teachers who challenge thinking by making learners ask questions and by asking learners to seek the relevance and authenticity of material studied.
All of this is totally correct – but is it enough?
It may be creative to enable a learner to write a story, to perform in a play or to design a web page but who chose the play and who decided the topic and who wrote the brief?
There is a difference between asking a learner to produce a creative response to something on a particular day, as part of a particular programme of work, and allowing an individual to be creative.
More profoundly, how can creativity flourish in schools, which are essentially non-creative environments?