In November 2010, New Zealand’s most populous region became a ‘supercity’, uniting seven discrete territories. As a result the public libraries of the whole Auckland isthmus are banding together to become one big public library system — the biggest, they say, in the Southern Hemisphere. That means that instead of borrowing books from 17 bricks-and-mortar libraries as in the old Auckland City, I can now roll up and borrow from 55. (There are also mobile libraries and the digital library. More about those another time.)
The thought of All Those Libraries is invigorating, and I’m not the only person to feel that way. From the moment of amalgamation, Aucklanders started ordering library books as never before. But I’m not content merely to note that my reserved books come from such exotic and far-flung locations as Pukekohe, Wellsford War Memorial and Glen Eden: I want to go there. It would be nice to know more of this now even larger place called Auckland. So I’m launching the Latitude of Libraries blog project, in which I plan to visit approximately one library a week over the next year.
Auckland is, according to Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand, at latitude 36° 51'. I could have asked a reference librarian to find this out for me, but I worry that they’re busy right now, answering all the extra enquiries they’ve had since the superlibrary came into being. I did consult the Encyclopaedia Britannica, that fount of knowledge to which my public library membership gives me free electronic access. Although it didn’t tell me what the latitude of Auckland is, it told me this:
In November 2010 the greater Auckland region became a unitary authority that combined the governments of its constituent parts into one entity, the Auckland Council; these included the cities of Manukau, North Shore, and 11 others.* [italics mine]
I have it on better authority that the number of local bodies the new Auckland Council swallowed up is eight (four cities, three districts and a region). Maybe I should ask one of the reference superlibrarians how I can contact Encyclopaedia Britannica to put them right.
First, though, I’m starting this blog. As well as being about geographic locations, latitude is all about range and breadth, or, as the online Oxford Dictionary of English (also free with Auckland Public Library membership) puts it, ‘scope for freedom of action or thought’. A latitude of libraries seems an appropriate collective noun — like flocks of sheep, gaggles of geese, etc. My ‘latitude of libraries’ allows me to meander, and I promise you I’ll do that. I hope others will join me for the ride.
* Auckland. (2011). In Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved January 11, 2011, from Encyclopaedia Britannica Online Library Edition: http://0-www.library.ebonline.co.nz.www.elgar.govt.nz/eb/article-9011208