Thinkings, doings, projects underway ...

Remoting it … 2 #eqnz

Each Monday we have a meeting in the morning. Friday’s there are drinks. We’re all to aim to at least make the Monday meeting.

I’m feeling that it’s really important to be there, to connect with my colleagues, remind them I’m working, that there is work I can do without a physical collection. As a sole charge librarian in a professional services company, the culture can be quite different to that of an academic, or I presume, a public library, where your colleagues share your profession.

A couple of special librarians responded to my email to the NZLIBs list. One is a law librarian who has also been displaced, and has potentially lost her collection too. We’ve had email contact and are setting up coffee meetings on Mondays, post my work meetings. It’s really good to have some contact. We all have similar questions and are grappling with similar situations.

I had some mail to check at work. A few issues of Your Environment, and an update for Brookers Resource Management. What do you do with looseleaf updates when there’s no longer a binder …

My new library is now in a draw of the kitchen.

My new library

I did contact Brookers and they are providing us with free online access until the end of the month. The situation will be reviewed after that.

My week remoting so far (2 hrs a day) has comprised a bit of cataloguing of electronic domuents, arranging travel to visit the Tauranga office and work in their library for a week, send instructions on how to access NZS4404 from our online library, finding all the Orders in Council related to recently inforced Canterbury Earthquake legislation, finding a copy of the Ngai Tahu Freshwater Policy, 1999 … and there are still loads of other jobs on my list.

Remoting it index

Remoting it … 3 #eqnz

How do you value a library collection? I’m probably going to have to do this soon. I’d really like some advice about this if anyone has been through a disaster recently and can shed some light for me.

While there has been no official word on our building, there is a possibility at sometime soon, at short notice, four of my colleagues may get a limited amount of access to our building. By limited access, I mean they get to make one trip in and one out, climbing a cracked stairwell to the 6th and 7th floors. They’ll be in the dark, with torches, wearing hard-hats and high-vis vests. Only two people will be permitted on each floor. They won’t have a wheelie bin to fill. They might be allowed to take a back pack (I don’t know, I hope so). They’ll hold lists in their hands of important priority items to find. My priority list includes Brookers Resource Management Looseleaf Service, and our new collection of NZ topo maps for the South Island. 

However, I’m realistic about the situation. It is unlikely that there will time or space in my colleagues’ arms or back packs to carry library items. Or that they will be able to safely access the library. Here’s my bog post, and a photo, of the library after the September 4 quake. Apparently this area was completely blocked after the February quake hit, no one could get passed the shelves or my desk (I write this feeling extremely grateful not to have been sitting in there).

So, while I remain hopeful we may be able to get back in and retrieve the library I feel I need to be prepared for the worst. I feel I need to at least have a plan in the event that I receive an email from our GM or CFO asking for a current valuation of our collection.

So, where do I start … 

  • talk to our CFO about our insurance policy and what the library has been insured for
  • run a report on all our company reports and estimate the cost of re-printing each one
  • pull my acquisitions records from the period of time I’ve been working (I’ve details of all purchases)
  • add a ‘value’ field into the online catalogue in preparation for inputting replacement values
  • check titles on and input the values into the catalogue
  • run a valuation report

As I was finishing this post I received an update from work about the state of our building …

Remoting it index 

Remoting it … 4 #eqnz

Well there have been developments. Two of my colleagues were permitted an hour to collect some important items from the office. 

While they were there they snapped off a few pictures. Here’s one of my library. 

My library after Feb 22 #eqnz

This is the last time I’ll see it. We’ve been told no one will be allowed back into the building; the building has no future.

Remoting it index

Remoting it … 6 - my 22:2:11 #eqnz

And maybe it’s time to tell my story, which I’ve found hard to write down until now. In those immediate days after the quake my brain was physically unable to comprehend anything further ahead than ‘tomorrow’. My perception distilled to a cluster of synapses firing in my reptilian brain. Once we were in Dunedin, that capability stretched out to a couple of days. Each day I’d write a list of things to do. I’d carry that note book with me, to write ideas down as they occurred to me, because my head could hold nothing, nothing more than a few thoughts. At times I couldn’t breath, I felt as though there was a huge metal flask stuck embedded my chest. I’d cry randomly. One afternoon I just went to bed and slept for 3 hours. I went to the Dr on the Sunday night after the quake, just to check I was ok because I felt so bad. I’ve never been under such extraordinary stress. For it to manifest so physically was literally breathtaking, for me.

The 22nd February was my husband’s birthday. Our 4 year old daughter and I were supposed to meet him on High Street for lunch that day, but we cancelled at breakfast time as he realised a phone conference he had scheduled would run overtime. So I was home in North Beach with our girl when the quake struck. I was in the kitchen, I’d just made a cup of coffee, Iris was on her way to the bathroom.

The following is a transcription of what I frantically scrawled a couple of hours later while sheltering under a table with Iris, and at least one distressed teenager, at my friend Vic’s friends house while we waited for Steve to come home from the CBD. It’s a bit jumbled and panic’d; totally stream of consciousness:

"Terrible earthquake in CHCH. Iris was in the hall, I was in the kitchen, cupboards flew open. Within 10 mins water was up our drive, through the back garden. Sand volcanoes up the driveway. Water was up to the doorsill on the sleep out when we left.

It was so violent - everything flew off the shelves and out of the cupboards. Definitely a west-east movement. Our walnut cabinet fell over, my laptop [MacBook], an inverted V, held it up. TV still on the wall, but only just. Grabbed Iris and got her out to the street to be with out neighbour [N]. Vic turned up like some kind of angel in bike gear. I grabbed our emergency stuff, got it in the car and got the car out over all the sand and water. Moved the guinea pigs to high ground. they were swimming in their cage. Iris saw Dan [the cat] when earthquake happened. She got thrown around and banged her head. The water was so frightening. I didn’t know if it was sea water. I tasted it. Thank god it wasn’t. With Vic holding Iris I ran around getting stuff out of the garage - the food bag, bedding, emergency box - and also a clean pair of jeans from the laundry as mine were soaked. Water was bubbling up through the ground on the drive and in the back garden. Water through the garage. I took photos and a bit of video. Am worried it’ll get into the house. If it can stay out of the house we’ll be alright. We’ll be alright anyway but I just want to get back there and see - to grab some clothes, the cat … Steve finally made it to Fisherman’s Rest about 3.40pm. Back wall fell off his building. Dad walked and ran home - building next to his collapsed [Caledonian Hall]. All so frightened.”

My memory of the event is in stop motion.

I kept my feet but couldn’t move. As the roaring and ground velocity increased, as everything lept and crashed, I watched the cupboards open, as if there were a poltergiest, and the contents shake itself out, like leemings pouring over a cliff. I remember looking at the table and contemplating it as the fridge started lurching towards me. But I had to get to Iris. I did as soon as I could, grabbed her, held her, told her we’d be ok, and got her into the kitchen by the door and under the table. I had to brush some debris away so she wouldn’t get hurt. ”It’s ok, it’s ok. We’re going to be ok, we’re going to be ok.” I sent a couple of texts, to Steve, Mum, Dad, my Sister … I tried Mum on the spare analogue phone; nothing. I was very frightened but was trying not to scare Iris. “Ok, I need to think, I need to think, what am I going to do?”. I saw my lap top, inverted and holding up the heavy cabinet that had fallen on it, and grabbed it. Tried to connect, forgetting the power was out. I had to know where the quake was centered incase there was a tsunami. It felt so big i thought it could have triggered one if it had been offshore. Then I heard the water, and I looked outside. It was terrifying.

Our back yard underwater and silt

I said to Iris, “Honey, we have to get out of here,” She was so scared, “Why Mummy, WHY!”. I tasted the water to see if it was salty. If it was I knew I had to get the ladder from the garage and get on the roof with Iris. When I realised it wasn’t the sea (the relief!) I grabbed her, got boots on our feet and carried her out, fairy dress and gumboots, into the flooded drive. It was then I saw our neighbours and knew we weren’t dealing with a tsunami. I ran to them, handed over Iris and went back for some gear. I started heaving our emergency bags into the car. Potted plants and railway sleepers were floating around the driveway. I knew the chooks would be fine but raced to check the guinea pigs. They were swimming in their cage, I grabbed one, and yelled at the other as it swam away from me, realised I had nothing to put them in, and then decided to drag the cage to as high a point in the garden as I could.  My girl was being cuddled while I collected these essentials together. I didn’t want her in the car until I knew I could get it out of the drive, incase the ground opened up under it. Water and liquification were more than halfway up the wheels and I had to try to get it out or risk it getting stuck. Iris cheered, “Go Mummy!” as I revved the engine and sprayed liquifaction 2m up the garage door. The car roared down the drive in reverse through the muck, hillocks and hollows of asphalt and lifted slabs of concrete. The roads were devastated. Cars were everywhere. Mums trying to get to their kids at kindy and school. We tried to get to Vic’s sister in Parklands and only made it a block. cars were stuck in potholes. The roads jammed with cars.  We went instead to her place in Waimairi Beach via Marine Parade which was safe, and found an untouched haven. A bunker. We made a decision. We’d stick together, we’d stay put until Steve and Jase made it back. We’d look after Iris. Then we’d decide what to do next. So we waited. 

Now, I can think ahead, I can plan little, just a little, not too far ahead because nothing is certain. Our land is messed up, we’re waiting with the rest of our city to find out where we stand, on our land, in our house - to find out what is our future here. We, like many others, are camping at home (fortunate and grateful to be in our home). Wearing gumboots outside because it’s still so messy. Being careful with water usage, careful with what goes down the drain. Avoiding using the oven. Using a chemical loo in the house. Bags always packed, ready to go. The car sits on the drive with a decent amount of petrol in the tank. Emergency gear in the boot. Bottled water, and a full gas bottle at the ready. Each night, making sure the jug is full of water, keys are in the door, torch and charged phones are by the bed. These are habits that may stay with me for a long time, some were carry-overs from September. It’s how I cope with this. It’s my way of having some control; to feel I am protecting my family. To be as ready as I can be, just in case.

And many nights as I get into bed, in the dark after I’ve turned off the light, as I lay my head on my pillow and close my eyes, I flash back to being wrenched from sleep, in that same bed, on the morning of September 4th 2010. And I hear the sea, and I think of Japan, and remember a reoccurring nightmare I used to have about a big wave. 

Tomorrow we start again.

Remoting it index

Think differently #eqnz #gapfiller [please RT]

I’m working with Coralie Winn of Gap Filler to set up a temporary Book Exchange in CHCH.

We’d love you to send us a copy of a book that made you THINK DIFFERENTLY in some way, to take part in this installation project. We’re hoping that this will be a fun project for people to take participate in, and to benefit from, and we hope that by going with the THINK DIFFERENTLY theme it may be another way to bring inspiration to people in Christchurch.


Books will be placed in a glass fronted fridge on an prominent earthquake gap site in CHCH (site details still being finalised). The fridge will have THINK DIFFERENTLY emblazoned on its double front, glass doors. People will be free to help themselves to books, and also free to add books to the fridge.

Books will have a Bookcrossing Identification (BCID) so when a book is collected, the BCID can be entered into and it’s journey can be tracked.


1. Grab a book that’s caused you to think differently in some way, about any aspect of your life, the world, religion, children, the environment. It’s open to interpretation.

2. Write a wee note to accompany the book.

3. Post it off to:

Gap Filler
31 Parlane St 
Christchurch 8024

4. Keep an eye on the Gap Filler Website / FB group for announcements about when we’ll be opening the fridge doors to the browsing public!


The site of the Herbal Dispensary on the corner of Barbadoes and Kilmor Streets in CHCH in a couple of weeks time (date TBA).